Saturday, June 1, 2013

Southern Iowa Sheaffers

As an Iowan I naturally unearthed quite a few Sheaffer pencils from the family desk drawers--they were made just south of here in Fort Madison (which, unfortunately, is better known around here for the state penitentiary), and some in Mount Pleasant, too. I expect it's a rare family in Iowa that doesn't have a Sheaffer "pearlie" pencil somewhere, or a Sheaffer ball point pen.  My blue and silver one has advertising on it for a retirement center in Fort Dodge that had a family connection.

Can you doubt that this pearl and pink Sheaffer was made "for the ladies, bless them"?  Whoever used it didn't erase much!  The pearl-center Sheaffer pencil is a deposit in the childhood memory bank of most of us Iowa baby boomers.  I bet this one took the minutes at a WCTU meeting in a church basement.  Refreshments were served, of course--as the saying goes, "We don't meet, if we don't eat."

Above is another Sheaffer, which like the so many pencils, was made to go with a pen.  It is a later pencil with a square top, and vertical line chasing.  The white dot signifies that the pen it went with had a lifetime warranty from Sheaffer.  The cap covers a small eraser.  Both of these pencils use 0.9 mm lead--the thin lead at the time, and they are both working well, still ready to take a memo or the minutes.

Another couple of Sheaffers are these elegant 4 & 3/4 inch celluloid pencils with vertical color bands.  The pencils are of the variety called the Balance, introduced by Sheaffer in 1929, and much imitated by everyone else.  These are Balances from the late 1930s.  Here, the gold center bands signify that the pencils were meant to accompany lifetime warranty pens.  A relative worked during this time period for Gardner Cowles, Sr., the publisher of the Des Moines Register, perhaps using the pencil below to take notes at the office, and make them accurate, as the flattened eraser inside shows. This takes 1.1 mm lead, and is a rose pink and dove grey color.

I purchased the black and red Balance pencil above to keep the other one company!  It has a shorter clip, and uses thinner lead.  Perhaps it is a later model.  It has a rounded over eraser, and carries the imprinted price of $3.50 under the Sheaffer mark and patent.  Here they are with a smaller 1929-1934 ball clip black and green Balance of 4 & 1/4 inches.  I doubt these went to the WCTU!  They look like they prefer to have nothing to do with temperance.

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