This one showed up in one of Jerome’s auctions, and just like the last time I ran across one of these, at first I breezed right on past it:
Sure, the grey marble with red veins is nice, I thought, and a little unusual in a WASP utility pencil . . . but I have one of those.
But then I circled back for another look, and I noticed that this one has a Sheaffer clip, not a WASP clip. A little different, I thought, but with so many of Jerome’s auctions closing in the coming days and so many things I planned to chase, I still wasn’t intrigued enough to bite.
A few hours later it dawned on me what this thing is. I bit and I bit hard - not on the pencil but on the auction: Here it is, next to what I thought it was:
No, that’s no WASP. It’s a rear drive pencil with a long, one-piece barrel and a much more substantial nose.
And I know what it is. Because I’ve been hunting it for some time.
I wrote about it three years ago, in “Before Sheaffer Put On the Togs” (https://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2015/01/before-sheaffer-put-on-togs.html). Here’s the new find, next to the black example from that previous article. They are the same size - the black one just looks a little shorter because it doesn’t have an eraser:
As I ran things down in the previous article, the Sheaffer LL with a black radite barrel and 4-inch leads was introduced in 1936:
For 1937, the catalog listing was the same: only the model LL, and only in black radite. In 1938, Sheaffer introduced the utility pencils (including the pearlies) that would remain in production for decades, and it was the last year for the LL, now called the “Utility.”
For that final year, it was joined by another model, the MM, catalogued in “grey pearl.”
Part of the reason it took me some time to recognize this pencil was it wasn’t quite the color I had read about: grey pearl in 1938 might mean either the striated grey, or the marbled grey without the red streaks – not the grey marble with red streaks which had not been offered for a couple years.
I talked to Daniel Kirchheimer in Baltimore about this one – didn’t have it in hand because it arrived on my doorstep while I was at the show. He confirmed that the grey with red streaks was probably what Sheaffer intended with the use of the MM prefix; even though the model is lined up with pencils in the other grey pearl. Sheaffer, having discontinued this color, would have been using up leftover stock, and what better place to do so than on a model that was also in the process of being phased out. With as long as these one-piece barrels are, it probably didn’t take very long to burn up the remaining stock.
So the Model MM has been found.
Now if these start showing up in other colors . . .