Thursday, December 15, 2016

Three for Three

Most of the time, if I’m after a lot in an online auction, there’s one or maybe two things out of the bunch that I’m really after.  The rest go into large boxes full of extras, that “I really need to start listing things on eBay” pile in one corner of the museum that mysteriously gets bigger.  I think they are reproducing on their own in there.

When this lot came up, I only had eyes for one of them:

That middle one - with the exposed eraser and the chrome-plated trim – matches one I wrote about here a couple years ago ( and is harder than heck to find:

These were Sheaffer’s utility pencils, made using the earlier striated Balance celluloids but with exposed erasers, like the company’s “working togs” lines.  In the earlier article I posted, Daniel Kirchheimer identified this by model name as the “Cadet Utility II,” with a 150 imprint denoting a price of $1.50.  With gold-filled trim, this same pencil bore a 250 imprint and matched the better Sovereign, Admiral and Craftsman lines, so in that configuration it was known as the “Sovereign Utility II,” the “Admiral Utility II” or the “Craftsman Utility II” pencil.

Now with a couple years under my belt as editor of the Pennant, I know where Daniel got his information: in the spring 2006 issue of the Pennant, Jim Mamoulides penned an article, “Taxonomy of Late 1940s Sheaffer Pens,” in which he ran down all of the models, including this one and its higher class cousins:

(Image derived from The Penannt, Spring 2006, page 27.)  These were cataloged by Sheaffer in 1946, the last year Sheaffer uesd striated celluloids - in the Summer 2006 article, Jim presented a similar taxonomy based on the 1947 catalog, and he makes no mention of the utility line, leading me to believe my plain black example was also made in 1946.  I’d prefer to show you the actual catalog images here, but while Jim’s excellent articles were based on 1946, 1947 and 1948 catalogs he had found, ten years later, those catalogs still are not in our library . . . sigh . . . I digress.

I had photographed the black Sheaffer Cadet Utility II for this article and was prepared to consign the other two to the “someday to be sold maybe” pile when, as a last thought, I compared them to what was in my collection.  Whaddaya know:

The ball clip Balance without trim (denoting that the pencil matched a non-Lifetime pen) looks nice alongside the black and pearl and grey pearl examples.  And . . .

The little black ringtop finds a nice place in my flattop stash.

Nice – three for three!

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