I’ll admit to having more fun than usual on eBay during this whole virus thing. With no pen shows to go to, no flea markets to attend, no Springfield Extravaganza . . . gotta get my fix somewhere, I suppose.
I’ve taken a bit of lighthearted heat from the wife whenever a little pile of packages appears on my doorstep. In the days when I would arrive home before Janet, it was easy to have all the packages opened, the boxes discarded and the pencils squirreled away into the museum before I’d hear the garage door go up. These days, however, she’s working from home and whenever all my little packages don’t fit in our mailbox, the dogs announce the arrival of our mailman right outside her “office” window with every load of illicit goods.
Not that I’m doing anything wrong or spending all that much money . . . I’m just on the receiving end of a comment here and there regarding how many pencils one might “need” in order to survive a nuclear holocaust and repopulate the planet’s shirt pockets with adequate writing gear.
I’m relieved whenever I get to tell Janet that not all these boxes are crazy little trinkets upon which I’ve squandered the kids’ inheritance, and lately there’s been a lot of other packages arriving. Without the usual socialization at shows, people have been sending pencils to fix, stuff to photograph – not everything that arrives is completing a one-way trip to Leadhead’s Leadquarters.
A couple weeks ago, however, one package arrived that was making a one-way trip – but it wasn’t anything I was expecting:
Apparently a few stragglers didn’t keep up with the march of the penguins, and there were a few other things in Don Jacoby’s stuff that Jack Leone wanted to catch up with the rest of the flock (if you're just now tuning in and that doesn't make sense, see "Penguins in the Barnyard"). “Party on!” Jack instructed.
“Party on, Jack” I titled the email to thank him, along with the observation that if I had not FINALLY gotten a long, long, LONG overdue haircut the preceding day, I would be playing air guitar and headbanging to Bohemian Rhapsody right along with him.
For all you kids out there who have no idea what I’m talking about . . . sigh . . . just go ask your parents. I keep forgetting what’s obvious to me is inevitably becoming the wisdom of the ancients.
There were a couple neat things in Jack’s care package worth sharing. First is this pair of Eversharp “4 Square” pencils (these actually have the imprint on the caps) – see "Making Sense of the Square 4" for the full rundown on these:
Well look at that – this subseries came in both nickel plated and gold filled trim! My example, in nickel plate, wasn’t nearly so nice, so both of these have found a comfortable place alongside their counterparts.
The rest were a few lower-level Parkers - Parkettes and such. Nothing much to write home about here, although I’ve had a single band example like that lower one which has been missing a clip:
I’ve had a green one just like that one which has that same clip, but I was never comfortable it was right. Now that Don’s example has made it to me, with the same clip as found in the wild (or to carry on the theme of the weekend, waddling around in the barnyard), I happily invited this one into the fold.
And then there’s that Parker Liquid Lead pencil . . . there’s something a little bit odd about it. It took me a while to find where I keep my other Liquid Lead pencils to compare it. What I remembered them looking like was more along these lines:
I think the ones like that lavender example were later, though . . . or maybe for the lower tier lines, like to match the 21 or such. I dug a little deeper and found a few Parker 51 Liquid Lead pencils, and they share that same shorter, ribbed tip:
And in the case of that lower example, a hefty price tag of $10!
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’ve settled into an uneasy peace with Parker’s grand experiment to load up a ballpoint cartridge with graphite paste and call it a “pencil.” Yeah, I’ll keep them around the museum as “close enough to being a pencil” (after all, look how hard I stretched to accommodate those chalk holders the other day). But no, I just haven’t been able to get too excited about them because the damned things never work (but then again, look how many goofy ideas that never worked well are proudly represented in the museum).
I’ve come to adopt the Don Jacoby philosophy. I like them just because I do, and I don’t like them just because I don’t. So sue me.
I will admit that on those rare occasions when you find one that works, they are kind of cool - lead flowing out of a pencil like ink and all. Plus, that cartridge looks a bit shorter and different from the other Liquid Leads I’ve got around, so I thought this might have been some weird experimental thing Parker did that may have worked a bit better. I turned Jack’s “Party On” instruction sheet over to see what it would do . . .
Whoa. It works, but I’ve never heard of a Parker Liquid Lead that wrote in purple! Of course that meant I had to take it apart . . .
From the other room Janet heard me burst out laughing. Yes, Virginia, you can fit an ordinary Pilot ballpoint cartridge in a Parker Liquid Lead pencil and it will work just fine as a pen – thanks to Don Jacoby I finally have a way to bring all those dead Liquid Lead paperweights back to life!
Party on indeed, Jack. Party on, Don! Climb on into that blue AMC Pacer and crank it up . . .
(Dooo do do doo do-do-do . . doo doo do dooooo... oh come on, I know you know this song. Bang your damned head!)