Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Short Surprises from Mr. Kirchheimer

Daniel Kirchheimer has a knack for noticing really interesting stuff.  Along the lines of yesterday’s representing of Edd Dawson’s 1948 presentation pencil from Craig Sheaffer, here’s one that Daniel sold me two years or so ago:

The pencil from Daniel is also 14k and is an identical model . . . just shorter:

Right down to the same unique white dot set into a rivet, set into the cap - used only in the third quarter of 1948, if I recall correctly:

Comparing the two, I’m not entirely certain this one isn’t the same pencil, just trimmed down either at the factory or by a skilled jeweler after the fact.  Note that the long version has a Sheaffer’s logo on the cap lip, below where the lines stop.  But why waste all that gold?

Notice also that the exposed brass tube under the lower barrel is the same length as that on the longer one . . . I’d think the same thing about that except for the fact that there’s no blank cartouche on the lower barrel of the short edition. 

And again, why would anyone waste all that gold? 

Neither Daniel nor I are sure exactly what this thing is . . . for now, I keep it alongside Edd Dawson’s other pencils, just because it seems like the best place for it to be.

I have a little better idea where to keep this one:

Daniel brought this one along to Baltimore - he was really into the tipless Sheaffers I wrote about a few weeks ago, so I agreed to trade him one for this.  Essentially it’s a Sheaffer Tuckaway with a clip, and two interesting twists neither of us have seen before:

I don’t have a black one to show you, but normally they have gold filled trim like the green example shown in this picture.  The only striated Sheaffers that regularly occurred with the chrome-plated trim were those in grey plastic, like the lower one.  Collectors call it “reverse trim” when the trim is the opposite of what is normally encountered, and Sheaffer Tuckaways with reverse trim are exceedingly scarce.

But wait a minute, you might be saying: Sheaffer Tuckaways in this series didn’t have clips, and later versions of the Tuckaway had a short stubby one rather than the rigid radius clip seen here.  Couldn’t this simply be a Sheaffer Balance cap stuck on a Sheaffer Tuckaway body? 

I don’t think so.  First, there’s the reverse trim issue – a scarce Tuckaway reverse trim bottom combined with a scarce Balance reverse trim cap seems unlikely.  There’s another problem with that theory, too.  The clip isn’t right for a Balance, either:

It’s too long – and trying to change out a clip on a Sheaffer pencil is more than a little bit of a pain in the neck.  Besides, replacing clips is usually because the old one has broken away, leaving a gaping hole and rendering the cap no longer usable. 

There are initials on the cap, H.V.S., which also adds points in favor of authenticity:

The initials had to be on the upper barrel because the lower barrel on a Tuckaway is ribbed; normally, personalization on a Balance will appear on the lower barrel.

And then there’s one last detail: interchangeability.  The longer clip means the clip is attached farther down on the cap, far enough that the cap won’t fit all the way down on a Balance, leaving a gap approximately 3/16" between the upper and lower barrels.

All indications point towards a bizarre factory variant rather than something modified or cobbled together. 

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