Wednesday, June 16, 2021

All For the Paper

This was advertised as a “set” in an online auction.  

The pencils are run-of-the-mill Eversharp Skylines, and both went straight to the sale bins for the next pen show.  The box is also Skyline era . . . nothing special there:

The paperwork, however, grabbed my attention.  I’ve arranged them as they were shown in the auction pictures, and I could see something that didn’t fit in at all with the pencils or the box.  In fact, they didn’t fit in with any Eversharp paperwork I’ve been able to study:

Eversharp didn’t refer to Skylines as “Gold Seal Repeaters,” because instead of a seal the double-check mark was incorporated into the clip.  This paperwork therefore likely pre-dates the introduction of the Skyline in 1941, and the combination of those two terms – “Gold Seal” and “Repeater” – places that paperwork within a very narrow, fascinating time period in Eversharp’s history.

When the item arrived, there were papers for both Gold Seal Repeaters and Gold Seal pens:

With one extra little twist:

“Eversharp, Inc.”  We’ll come back to that in a minute, because there was one other piece of paper folded up in this group . . . with stars on it . . .

For the Eversharp White Star Repeater.  Printed on the back are generic Eversharp repeating pencil instructions, which apply to all Eversharp models of this time period:

Step 2 of the instructions, regarding removal of the “Magic-Button,” illustrates a Coronet clip:

The Coronet, however, didn’t have any seals or white stars . . . and there’s something else to notice on the front side:

The White Star paperwork was printed by The Wahl Company, not Eversharp, Inc., in March, 1940.  

I’ve also written about Wahl’s garage sale of pens and pencils cobbled together from leftover parts – most notably, in connection with the X-seal pens and pencils (see Volume 6, page 110-112).  The general consensus has been that these weird variants were part of a financial reorganization of the company in 1939.

While Wahl might have been making use of leftover parts in 1939, the reorganization didn’t happen until 1940.  An account published in The Chicago Tribune on June 12, 1940, after the dust settled, stated that The Wahl Company showed a net loss for the year ending February 29, 1940, as well as in 1938 (no information was reported for 1939).  

The company’s largest and most formidable group of creditors was its own shareholders: dividends had been declared over the years, but Wahl had not paid accrued dividends on preferred shares of the company’s stock since 1930, and holders of common shares had not been paid since 1924.

On March 13, 1940, The Wilmington, Delaware News Journal reported that a new corporation, Eversharp, Inc., had been incorporated.   

On April 13, The News Journal published notice of a special meeting of the shareholders in The Wahl Company: on May 7, 1940, the shareholders would be considering a merger.  Holders of 7% preferred shares of Wahl Company stock, which had accrued dividends of $80.50 per share, would receive six shares of preferred stock and five shares of common stock in the new company.  Common stockholders would receive one share of common stock in Eversharp, Inc. for every 2 ½ shares of Wahl Company common stock:

The Associated Press reported that the deal was approved at the May 7 meeting, by a vote of 120,907 to 3,701.  

All of this happened just as the White Star line was being introduced.  I’ve written about “White Star” Eversharps before (see Volume 3, page 238 and most recently in Volume 5, page 224), and I’ve always dated them to 1940 or so because at some point I’ve seen another piece of paperwork, also dated March, 1940.  The typical White Star pencil is an aluminum-barrel affair, sporting Eversharp’s prettiest clip of all time:

The domed, gold-filled caps are correct on this series; the top example has a Skyline button for a replacement, and one has an eraser simply wedged in where the button should be.  The example second from top isn’t clipless – I’ve turned it around to show the location of the imprint.

Advertising for these pencils is consistent with the paperwork I’ve turned up.  The earliest advertisement I found for them appeared in The Indianapolis News on March 27, 1940, describing them as the “World’s First Thin Lead Eversharp Repeater Pencil”:

That’s pretty awkward wording.  Official national advertising described them as the “World’s First Thin Lead Repeating Pencil,” like this one published in The Spokane Chronicle on May 10, 1940:

The other series of pencils Eversharp made with White Stars are much harder to come by:

These featured in Volume 5, page 224, and the second one from bottom, with two equally thick gold bands at the top and a double check seal rather than the White Star, was discussed in Volume 3, page 238:

Could this be the “Gold Seal Repeater” from the paperwork at the beginning of this article?  Maybe . . . after all, these have been identified as the Eversharp “Victory,” advertised in 1941 (see Volume 4, page 174):

If . . . Eversharp was consistent in how the company referred to its products – recall that the Four Square from around the same time was referred to at different times as the Forty Niner or the Red Spot (see Volume 5, page 130).  Could “Gold Seal” Repeater have referred to things which didn’t have Gold Seals, like the Skyline?

The earliest advertisements I found reveal that the Skyline moniker was used from the model’s introduction.  Here’s an advertisement published in The Town Talk in Alexandria, Louisiana on October 4, 1940:

However, on January 21, 1941, The Indianapolis News ran an advertisement for “The New Eversharp Gold Seal Pen”:

Granted, both of these are jewelers’ advertisements rather than official Eversharp ads . . . but The Town Talk didn’t pull the word “Skyline” out of thin air, and I doubt that The Indianapolis News plucked “Gold Seal Pen” out of the blue, either.  

Then there’s this advertisement, which ran in several newspapers in February, 1941.  This one ran in The Bloomington Pantagraph on February 13:

These advertisements specifically mention Henry Dreyfuss as the designer, but the name “Skyline” isn’t used.  The pen is described only as having a “Magic Feed,” although the picture of the airplane and the reference to writing at altitudes above 12,000 feet tie in well with the Skyline name.

There’s one other thing to notice: the placement of the trim band on the pencil.  In the January, 1941 advertisement, the band falls on the boundary between the striped upper section and solid color lower section, but in the February advertisements, the band is moved up into the striated section, to better match the bands on the pen. 

Was this artistic license?  After all, the trim band on pencils always falls on the boundary between the two materials, right?

Almost always.  Out of all my Skylines, this is the only example like this that I’ve been able to find.  Apparently the modification was extremely short-lived, very early in production.  

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