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(This page published May 1, 2018)
|The Wahl Company placed this advertisement in the September 18, 1938, issue of Life Magazine, hoping to catch the eye of back-to-school shoppers. The $3.50 Eversharp Pacemaker (center pen in lower left photo) was an ideal pen for a high school or college-bound student.|
For Christmas 1936, the Wahl Company introduced a pen that has become for collectors one of its most desirable models, the beautifully Art Deco-styled Coronet. But the Coronet, a premier model priced at $10.00, was not exactly Everyman’s pen. To put its pens in more pockets, the company needed a model that would sell for less than half that price. And so it was that such a pen was born. Priced at only $3.50, nicely slotted between the $2.75 Air-Lite (introduced at the same time) and the $5.00 Popular Doric, the Eversharp Pacemaker reached stores in time for back-to-school shopping in the fall of 1938.
The Pacemaker, which disappeared from the Wahl stable when the Skyline was introduced in 1941, was not a cheap pen in the sense of shoddy construction or cheap materials. Although its features did not stack up against those of the Doric or the Coronet, it was nonetheless well made. It was about the same size and shape as the Coronet, it had a partially transparent section to give a view of the ink level, and it was fitted with the same clip that Eversharp used for the Coronet (U.S. Patent No D104,687, below, by the noted stylist Alfonso Iannelli, who had also designed the Coronet).
The production version of the clip was flattened along the central ridge, eliminating a couple of the grooves and creating a long V-shaped flat area that led into a rolled curve at the shoulder instead of the sharp crease shown in the patent drawing. Both of these modifications improved manufacturability, and the flattening of the central ridge also reduced the tendency for brassing.
The Pacemaker had a cap and barrel that were both made of celluloid instead of a metal cap and a metal or celluloid barrel like its pricier sibling, and when the two are seen together the Pacemaker is more the shy, retiring type despite its not-exactly-subdued colors.
The Pacemaker could be had with flexible or firm 14K nibs; but it was not offered with Wahl’s “nine points in one” adjustable nib, and the Safety Ink Shut-Off was also not in evidence on such an economical model. An early advertisement showing the Pacemaker, in the September 18, 1938, Life Magazine, offered the pen in black, green, blue, or “gold-satin”, and an attractive red was added some time later. Here is a red Pacemaker (upper) with a Coronet (lower) for comparison:
Pacemakers in all five colors were offered in two sizes, standard girth and slender, illustrated by the two black pens here. Note that unlike many pens of the time, the slender model (upper) was the same overall length capped as the standard although its cap was shorter for better aesthetics.
Most Pacemakers carry a barrel imprint reading Wahl. The slender black pen above is representative of a smaller number with only the EVERSHARP name in their imprints.
Under examination, the Pacemaker displays some interesting features and things to look for. The laminated celluloid barrel and cap were made of tube stock, not solid rod, but they do not show the longitudinal seam that would be expected to appear when the tubing was made by rolling a sheet. This might be due to care in placing the seam along one of the black lines; however it was done, it was elegant and an impressive effort for a lower-line pen. Cap and barrel ends appear to have been fabricated from a rod made of the same basic material as the tubing and fused to the ends of the tubes; it shows darker at the ends.
The standard Pacemaker design made the entire barrel, from the section joint to the back end, all the same color. Some examples, however, like the blue pen below, have a black area at the barrel threads. Whether this was an intentional color variation, or a way to salvage material that would otherwise have been unusable due to some problem such as a manufacturing error that produced a run of barrels with defective threads, is not known.
Pacemakers had gold-filled clips and cap bands, the latter (at both ends of the cap) attractively milled with groups of four lines running longitudinally. Levers, however, were thinly gold plated as befitted a lower-end model, and the plating is frequently worn enough to expose the steel lever.
The Eversharp Pacemaker was well designed and was made in attractive colors, but it is today relatively recherché, and it seems also to be somewhat underappreciated. A few collectors do not realize what it is and will ignore it, while others, who know what it is, might prefer to concentrate on the higher-line models. This means that you, the astute collector, might have a chance to nab a Pacemaker at a bargain price. (This is less likely for a pen with a flexible nib; these specimens often go high.) It's an excellent writer when tuned — but as can happen with celluloid pens, an occasional Pacemaker’s ends will suffer from fluorescence and crazing as shown on the Gold-Satin pen below. The ink-view portion of the section can also show deterioration, usually in the form of severe crazing or crystallization, and this pen also exhibits that problem. It is generally wiser not to use pens that show celluloid problems because these pens can be quite fragile.
Although a lower-line pen, the Pacemaker was offered in five colors, four of which were remarkably beautiful. It shared black and the laminated green with the Air-Lite, whose third color was a laminated silver-gray with white metal (probably rhodium plated) trim, as was common for gray pens in the 1930s; but the Pacemaker’s other colors were unique. At the Pacemaker’s introduction, as listed in the Life Magazine ad at the top of this article, only the golden color was named “Satin”; but before the model disappeared the other colors had “Satin” added to their names as listed here.
|Colors of the Pacemaker|
Black pens appear virtually immune to this problem, which is related to the thickness of the object; the amount, and possibly the type, of colorant present; and the length of time the material was allowed to cure before being made into parts.
The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information. My thanks to Wojciech J. Osetkowsky, who provided some of the information and photos used in this article, and to Jim Mamoulides, who kindly lent all of the pens pictured.