Friday, August 12, 2016

Maybe Big Three Out of Four?

Note:  this is the fourth installment in a series - it might make more sense if you start here.

Montgomery Ward’s Gold Bond brand took a markedly different evolutionary path than did other store brands, such as Gold Medal, Diamond Medal and Webster, the latter three of which evolved directly from Rex-made (or at least Rex patent) mechanism to rebadged Parker products.  Some Gold Bonds, other the other hand, are just as clearly rebadges made by Eversharp and Waterman:

At the top, we have three examples which, for the time being, I attribute to the Rex Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island.  The bottom three are clearly rebadges of the Eversharp Doric, the Eversharp Junior, and a Waterman (the Eversharp Gold Bonds I’ve written about a couple years ago at, and the Waterman I wrote about just yesterday).

Side note: I theorized last year that “National Pen Products” wasn’t the grand puppetmaster behind everything flattopish and Chicagoish, but was instead a wholly owned subsidiary set up exclusively to supply Montgomery Ward’s writing instruments, incorporated by a Montgomery Ward executive, C.E. Barrett’s sister-in-law and a third person about whom I haven’t found anything yet (“What About the Boogeyman,” at  The fact that post-Rex Gold Bonds were made by different companies than contemporary Gold Medals, Diamond Medals and Websters supports this.

But . . . I’m getting off topic.   This article is about the “middle children” from that first picture, and particularly that grey marbled example.  It just doesn’t match the profile of either the Eversharp Junior rebadges (the closest Eversharp-made relative I can find) or the Waterman rebadge:

Yeah, it has three bands like an Eversharp, but much thinner.  And both the Eversharp and Waterman models are nose-drive pencils, fundamentally different inside regardless of outward appearances.  If you can look past those outward appearances, in fact, this weird Gold Bond looks a lot like the other middle child from that first picture:

Both are middle-joint, rear drive pencils, and note how similar the tips are?   As I was trolling around the museum comparing that very odd Sheaffer pencil to Diamond Medals and Gold Medals, that caught my attention . . .

and sure enough . . .

There’s no question in my mind: no matter what you see on the outside of these Gold Bonds, what’s inside is all Sheaffer.  Sheaffer also might be the answer I never thought to look for when it comes to that bizarre clip, which I haven’t seen on anything else:

It clearly isn’t derived from either the Eversharp or Waterman clips, but when I turned my attention to the Sheaffer wing of the museum, I noticed something from which it might have been derived:

That plastic, whether you call it “birdseye,” “screaming souls” or what have you, is a Wasp (acronym for W.A. Sheaffer Pen) Clipper pencil, a Sheaffer subbrand which falls chronologically into the exact same slot as when I suspect the Gold Bond was made (1933-1934).

Note that both clips are the same length, both have a flat face, and the tops of each share a gothic arch sort of profile.  A few minor modifications to existing tooling would turn a Wasp clip into a goofy Gold Bond one.  And while I’ve never been able to wrestle a lower barrel off a Wasp Clipper before, I was now determined to see exactly what was inside one of these.  A few choice words (and a bruised knuckle) later, I had my answer:

I believe my goofy grey Gold Bond was made by Sheaffer, outer appearances notwithstanding, and Montgomery Ward was being supplied with writing instruments made by Eversharp, Waterman AND Sheaffer – everybody BUT Parker.


Anonymous said...

Quite a sleuthing job. Very impressive. Dave

Martha said...

Sorry to see the story end! Seeing all these pencil innards makes me wish for X-ray vision.

Jon Veley said...

Don't worry, Martha - it's not over yet. Not even close . . .