Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Few WASP Variants to Report

A few of Jerome Lobner’s auctions recently yielded some pencils that filled in gaps in my collection of WASP pencils - that’s WASP as in “W.A. Sheaffer Pen,” a subbrand marketed by the company during the 1930s which included some really interesting features not found on the company’s regular lines.  Here’s two of them:

Let’s start with that silvery glittery one, a material Sheaffer referred to as “Lahn.” 

I’ve got nearly this exact pencil, but with a maddening little detail:

There’s the three colors, brown, green and silver; but note the clips.  The brown and green ones have a little decorative flourish on them, something I’ve nicknamed a “banjo clip” since it looks like strings on a banjo.  My silver example, however, has a plain clip that doens’t match the other two.  That’s been like having a pebble in my shoe.  This new example has a banjo clip:

So now the set exists in perfect harmony:

Not really. Although I should throw my plain clip silver lahn out the window and be done with it, now I’m going to hunt plain-clip examples in brown and green to complete the other set.  If any of these turn up in reverse trim I fear my head might explode.

As for the marine green example, at first glance I breezed on by assuming that I already had one of these, but when I thought about it some more, I remembered that isn’t quite true:

The one I was thinking of has a ball clip marked “Vacuum-Fil” as opposed to a flat clip, and note the different proportions and how the trim band is placed differently.  The green Vacuum-Fil has no imprint, while the black one is marked “WASP / Vacuum-Fil Pen Co. / Ft. Madison, IA USA”:

That’s the same imprint found on my new addition:

The profile of the new addition matches another WASP series perfectly:

Those two “lizard skin” examples appear on page 143 of The Catalogue, while the ebonized pearl example came my way some time later.  Two of them share the same imprint, with the ebonized pearl example being the odd man out:

After these two arrived and I’d already photographed them, I picked this one up too - also from Jerome:

I love that “electric green” color.  When it comes to these, I’ve noted two different styles of clips, on the copper-colored model in the same series (see

They come in both a flat clip as well as a more pronounced clip with the letter “W” artfully incorporated at the top:

The “W” clips show up on utility pencils in WASP advertisements from 1939 (see, but that was the only year in which I’ve found ads which show the WASP version of Sheaffer’s “working togs” line of utility pencils.  I would suspect that the flat clips are a little bit earler, and since Sheaffer didn’t introduce this incarnation of the working togs pencil until 1938, it could be that the flat clip examples are truly first-year models.

Exciting to think about, but it could also be that Sheaffer just used up old parts however they saw fit, whether before, after or at the same time as the W clips. 

I’m not sure, and maybe it doesn’t matter.  I just kind of like having both versions when I know there’s two of them out there, and I’ve had another one of these, which I acquired from the estate of the late Frank Tedesco:

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