Thursday, July 2, 2020

Doubly Presitigious

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:

I’ve been putting off buying one of these for long enough:

It’s not that I don’t like Eagle (I really, really do) and it’s not that this one isn’t loaded with deco style (it really, really is):

It’s just that these pencils suffer from what I called “Pen to Match Syndrome” in The Catalogue.  These pencils were styled to match the company’s Eagle Prestige pens, unusual paddle-filling pens from the 1930s which are among the most highly prized of Eagle’s products, and among the most expensive to acquire.  David Isaacson took a picture of a few of his Eagle Prestige pens for me to share with you, including one in black to match my pencil:

The pencils, however, lacked any of the technical innovation for which the pens they were made to accompany are so well respected.  Heck, it doesn’t even have a “prestigious” imprint.  Nevertheless, these pencils command prices which are abnormally high for what they are – hence the PMS diagnosis.

I’d seen that black pencil make the rounds on eBay several times over the course of the last year.  Rob Bader had it, priced fairly for those who know what it is.  But to quote Rob, while that is a fair price, I’ve been waiting for one at an unfair price, slipping under the radar as just a plain ol’ Eagle and into a place of honor in my collection.

It hasn’t happened.

I couldn’t put it off any more, because I needed an example so I could show you what a “normal” Eagle Prestige looks like.  When this next one came up online, I thought the seller might have been juicing his description to generate some ill-begotten interest, because it didn’t look anything like any Eagle Prestige I’d seen:

Purists, avert thy eyes.  If ever the occasion called for a bit of china marker to show you what’s going on here, this is it:

Sure enough, “Eagle Prestige” in some really cool script. I decided to phone several thousand friends on this one, so I posted just this picture – no description, no question – in “The Eagle Pencil Company Historical and Collectors Group” on Facebook.  Within moments, Andrew Timar was on it, posting a picture of a “normal” (ish) Eagle Prestige pen:

With a couple of disclaimers . . . first, he said, it wasn’t his pen.  Second, note that the clip does not have an Eagle imprint - Andrew says it was specially branded for the Heacock Deptartment Store in the Philippines.

Matthew Greenberger was right behind him.  The picture Andrew shared was Matthew’s, and he had another one to add:  The celluloid on my pencil doesn’t match those paddle-filler pens I’m so used to seeing, he explained . . . but it does match the lever-filling version.

A lever-filling Eagle Prestige?  Yes, Virginia . . . 

Not only does the celluloid match, but the overall shape of the pen and the twin cap bands make this an exact match.  And the nib . . . 

Well there you go.  And by the way, these are Matthew's pictures used with his blessing.

Since I’m on the subject of Eagle, this group of four showed up online in the weeks since.  They are much later, maybe late 1940s or so:

Neat but kinda cheap looking chrome caps - but you just don’t see these later Eagles very often:

Besides, while those solid barrel examples are a bit ho-hum, the red veined plastic on that top example tied in so well with other Eagles I’ve had:

The middle example is a common configuration, but not usually in that same plastic.  It’s the lower one that is the most familiar in this pattern.  The pens are much more common than the pencils for some reason.  Sometimes the clips are marked “Scout” rather than Eagle, and I’ve squirreled away a few of the pens over the years:

But mine look a bit ratty, as these tend to corrode with their lower quality trim.  Since luck was with me the first time I asked the Eagle elite, I posted this picture in that Eagle group on Facebook again, and once again, Matthew Greenberger didn’t disappoint:

Dang, I was hoping for a little better than mine, not a fully stocked sales card with NOS stickered examples!  Note they were referred to as the “Gold Standard Pens,” and the “OPA ceiling price” (and those round price stickers under the clips) indicate wartime production, when the Office of Price Administration regulated prices of consumer goods to prevent profiteering.  But there’s one other thing on Matthew’s card that made me laugh – the reference to the “Vicehold grip.”  That harkens back to the very early days here at the blog (The Leadhead’s Pencil Blog Vol. 1, page 29) –

The “Vicehold” clip was covered by two patents, according to this reference from the company’s 1937 catalog:

And neither one looks anything like the plain ol’ washer clip Eagle used on its “Gold Standard” pens.  Meh.  Guess they were just trying to add a bit of “prestige” to the line.

1 comment:

applguy said...

Wow, Great Research Material... another Pencil Brand to look out for on eBay!
I really like all the great advertisement material, and detail in this article!