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Early American mechanical or propelling pencils are far scarcer than their English counterparts, yet to date have received rather less collector attention. This is beginning to change, but it is still possible to acquire wonderful specimens of pre-Civil War craftmanship for less than one might pay for a common mid-20th century fountain pen.
14788: Collins (?) extending pencil: very early American production, unmarked as to metal content but by all appearances solid gold of relatively low karatage, 8.7 cm long closed, 11.1 cm extended, steel tip insert, bulbous crown characteristically early, uses 1.0 mm lead, "M. Collins" in tiny letters on shaft, could be either maker or owner. Scattered shallow dings, even wear to shaft, tiny spot of solder over slider pins.
DATE: c. 1840 • CONDITION: G • $225
14783: Pratt & Brother extending pencil: unusually large and heavy, silver and distinctively American, 9.65 cm long retracted, 12.8 cm extended, uses 1.03 mm "M" lead, faceted purple glass seal. Well used but mechanically sound, from a well known pre-Civil War Boston retailer.
DATE: c. 1850 • CONDITION: G • SOLD
14883: unmarked extending pencil: gold filled, of excellent quality, characteristically American with a steel-tipped nozzle and an elegantly hand-engraved hexagonal barrel; 9.5 cm long retracted, 12.95 cm extended, uses 1.0 mm lead, faceted purple glass seal at end; excellent overall condition but for light tool marks to nozzle, one pinhead ding in the shaft cartouche, and a tiny crack where the engraver pushed a bit too hard when cutting a flower (see details).
DATE: c. 1850 • CONDITION: fine • $120
14880: unmarked extending pencil: gold filled, of excellent quality, characteristically American with a steel-tipped nozzle and a sliding ring fitting on the hexagonal barrel; 8.1 cm long retracted, 10.6 cm extended, uses 1.0 mm lead, faceted red glass seal at end.
DATE: c. 1850 • CONDITION: fine • SOLD
14789: unmarked extending pencil: small, unmarked silver, characteristically American with a steel-tipped nozzle and a sliding ring fitting on the engine turned round barrel, 5.5 cm long retracted, 7.85 cm extended, uses 1.03 mm "M" lead, faceted red glass seal at end. Tiny crack at front of slider slot does not affect function.
DATE: c. 1855 • CONDITION: VG-fine* • $50
14882: unmarked extending pencil: gold filled, excellent quality and condition, crisply engine turned rectangular shaft, long and slender proportions, 8.3 cm long retracted, 10.65 cm extended, uses 1.03 mm "M" lead; one tiny bump in the cartouche, seal is red faceted glass, American production.
DATE: c. 1865 • CONDITION: fine-exc • $95
14881: unmarked extending pencil: gold filled, hexagonal shaft, elegantly hand engraved, probably English, hardstone shield-shaped seal stone; 8.2 cm long retracted, 10.5 cm long extended, uses 1.6 mm lead.
DATE: c. 1870 • CONDITION: fine • $95
14876: Aikin Lambert dip pen in box: unmarked rose gold filled holder with imitation ivory celluloid taper, 14.6 cm long excluding ventless gold Aikin Lambert #1 nib, lovely gold filled and silver inlay piquet work on both sides of taper. Taper is slightly bent and has a subtle molding ridge, guaranteeing identification of material.
DATE: c. 1890 • CONDITION: fine • NIB: extra-fine flex • $220
14850: Carter pencil: red hard rubber ringtop, 10.7 cm long, nickel plated trim, uses 1.1 mm lead.
DATE: c. 1924 • CONDITION: fine • $65
14879: Conklin Jaxon: black chased hard rubber clipless screw-cap eyedropper-filler, 13.2 cm long, wide feed, warranted #3 nib is a soft wet writer with some paper feel. Jaxon was a Conklin sub-brand; most were self-fillers, using a variant of the Conklin crescent-filling mechanism, eyedropper-fillers are rare. Clean imprints and chasing, moderate even fading.
DATE: c. 1912 • CONDITION: VG-fine • NIB: medium flex • $265
14873: Eagle dip pen and desk pencil: nickel-plated brass holder, 15.4 cm long excluding nib, fully marked, very unusual as this is a classic form in sterling silver and less commonly gold filled metal -- we cannot recall having seen another in nickel. Clean condition, some minor plating loss to the edges of the ferrule (see details), matching desk pencil shows more wear, uses standard 2 mm thick lead.
DATE: c. 1895 • CONDITION: fine/VG • $225
14857: Eagle combination: rare late-production example of one of the first mass-produced combos, in woodgrain celluloid rather than the usual hard rubber, but retaining the original eyedropper-filler design; 15.5 cm long, nickel plated trim, hard rubber pencil nozzle uses 2 mm lead, Eagle nib is a precise and responsive writer.
DATE: c. 1927 • CONDITION: fine-exc • NIB: extra-fine flex • $450
14869: Gorham dip pen: sterling silver, 15.2 cm long excluding plated nib, twist and scroll pattern very distinctive and in clean condition, imprints on holder largely polished away and illegible, front of nib holder very slightly shortened.
DATE: c. 1890 • CONDITION: fine* • $175
14877: Mabie Todd retracting dip pen: gold filled body, marked "MABIE TODD & CO. No. 1", pearl taper, 11 cm long closed, 13.75 cm extended including ventless gold Mabie Todd #1 nib. Splits to the collar of the nib holder (see details) do not affect function, the nib is still held securely. Nib has good springback, is not soft.
DATE: c. 1875 • CONDITION: VG* • NIB: extra-fine flex • $120
14874: Mabie Todd (?) pencil: unmarked gold filled twist-action model of lobed form used by Mabie Todd but also other early American makers; 7.35 cm long closed, 9.5 cm with nozzle extended, uses 1.5 mm lead, unusual smaller size (most examples are significantly longer).
DATE: c. 1860 • CONDITION: fine • $60
14884: Parker Classic ballpoint: sterling silver grid pattern, gold plated trim, button actuated, made in USA, marked "STERLING CAP & BARREL", no date code, uses standard Parker refills.
DATE: c. 1978 • CONDITION: fine-exc • $85
14875: Salz Army and Navy: WW1-era black hard rubber screw-cap eyedropper-filler in the form of a .30-06 US service rifle cartridge, 10 cm long; good imprint, warranted 14K nib.
DATE: c. 1918 • CONDITION: VG-fine • NIB: fine flex • $265
14862: Sheaffer Imperial III: grey Touchdown pneumatic-filler, 13.5 cm long, gold plated trim, two-tone gold-plated palladium silver Triumph-style conical nib is a smooth, wet writer.
DATE: c. 1961 • CONDITION: exc • NIB: medium fine • $115
14863: Sheaffer 500: black "dolphin" cartridge-filler, 13.3 cm long, brushed stainless steel cap, distinctive inlaid nib in white metal (palladium silver?) is a smooth writer.
DATE: c. 1963 • CONDITION: exc • NIB: medium fine • $80
14878: Waterman 552½: black hard rubber lever-filler with smooth solid 14K gold overlay and trim, 13.6 cm long, #2 nib has a semistub tip, responsive flex with great line width variation. Number on barrel end missing, shallow irregularities to overlay, fine overall appearance.
DATE: c. 1920 • CONDITION: fine • NIB: medium fine flex • $685
14872: Waterman Citation pencil: grey with gold filled trim, 13 cm long, wide barrel band, new old stock with minimal shop wear, uses .9 mm lead, matches Taperite or standard Citation fountain pen.
DATE: c. 1945 • CONDITION: near mint • $55
14845: unmarked dip pen: black hard rubber holder, 17 cm long excluding plated nib, ribbed gripping section, flattened letter-opener taper with interesting advertising imprint for the Leviseur and Conway Leather company of Boston.
DATE: c. 1903 • CONDITION: fine • $85