In 1940, the newly organized Eversharp Pen Company engaged industrial designer
Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) to create an all-new pen design. Dreyfuss drew heavily
from prior works, especially the streamlined New York Central Railroad locomotive,
the Twentieth Century Limited.
Eversharp Skyline Brown Gold Filled
Radial Engraved Cap c1943-1948 With Photo of 20th Century Limited
The new Skyline pen, introduced in 1941, was a dramatic shift away from the
Art Deco designs Wahl Eversharp relied on in the 1930s, and a leap forward into
the streamlined and aviation inspired designs that we fast coming in vogue. The
new pen line proved to be a huge success, with over eleven million Skylines sold
from 1941 through 1949, making it the largest selling pen of the early 1940s and
the largest seller ever for Eversharp.
The Skyline is a conventional lever filler with a radical streamlined design,
a Dreyfuss hallmark. The design may look very top heavy when capped, especially
on the smallest models, but becomes very well balanced posted. The over the top
clip design made the pen eligible for sale to the military, as it places the pen
quite low in the pocket. Skylines have no date codes, so the only real dating
method is based on the section. Pens with visulated sections will be from the
first two years production, with the feature dropped quickly afterward. Even this
is only precise enough to call a pen early or late, as wartime production was
very low and parts could have been used later.
Eversharp Skyline In Three Sizes
Left to Right: Standard / Executive / Demi
There are essentially five kinds of Skylines in three sizes, Demi or Lady,
Standard, and Executive, which are about 4 3/4 inches, 5 1/4 inches, and 5 1/2
inches long, respectively, and a vast array of color and trim variations. One
collector commented to me that he was sure he counted over three hundred combinations,
including possible mismatches. There are models made with all solid plastic cap
and barrel, striped celluloid cap and solid barrel, all striped celluloid cap
and barrel, metal cap and solid barrel, and all metal cap and barrel. A double
check mark on the clip indicates the pen carried the Eversharp lifetime warranty.
All models had matching repeater pencils. Skylines were offered in a wide price
range, from low-cost all-plastic pens to all solid 14 karat gold models: pens
from US $5.00 to $75.00, pencils from US $2.00 to $50.00, and pen and pencil sets
from US $8.75 to $125.00. An ill-fated ballpoint model was also made.
Eversharp Skyline Gold Award Vermeil
There are rare variants that are marked "Wahl" on the clip and a
"W" instead of the double checkmark. These were made so Eversharp could
protect the Wahl name.
The Skyline was a huge success for Eversharp, eventually becoming, by 1945,
the best selling pen in the USA. Skylines faded from Eversharp advertising after
1945 in favor of other models such as the Fifth Avenue, but was produced until
1948, when the Symphony was introduced.
A Nib For Every User
A Set Of Nibs From Solid Color And Modern
Stripe Demi Skylines
Note The Heart Shape Breather Holes
Wahl had always offered an array of silky smooth nibs, and the Skyline was
no exception. Nibs were offered in a full range from extra fine to broad, from
Manifold to flexible, and in at least three sizes, to match the Demi, standard,
and Executive size pens. Though available in a wide range of styles and flexibility,
they generally aren't marked with size or flexibility.
Interesting to me is the variation in designs in Skyline nibs, which can also
be found on late Pacemakers and on the following Symphony line. Inexpensive models
will be typically fitted with a short, plain nib, with "EVERSHARP"
stamped in a curve below the breather hole, which is usually heart shaped. "14K" will be stamped centered and "MADE
IN USA" stamped at the base. I've seen a few examples of nibs without
the 14 karat mark, but they don't appear to be plated.
A Banner Of A Nib
The higher line pens are usually fitted with the more elaborate "banner"
style nib. This style has "Eversharp" stamped at a diagonal across the
nib under an elongated hexagonal breather hole, with "14K"
above "MADE IN USA" stamped near the base. The
nib then has a design including at least one diagonal line parallel to the Eversharp
name, giving it a banner look. I've encountered three design variations of this
style of nib.
Early "Teardrop" Stamped Nib
With Diagonal Single Line Banner
Mounted On An All Vermeil Command Performance
On early higher line models with visulated sections, there is a "Teardrop" stamped from the ends of the tines and around
the breather hole and a single diagonal banner line above the Eversharp name.
The eye is drawn strongly to the teardrop, and if the intent was to emphasize
the name, it's too strong. As a whole, it has a lot of eye appeal, and I look
for early pens with this nib. Some sources speculate that this nib is a design
holdover from the adjustable nibs of the 1930s. To me, this is the most interesting
of the three designs.
Later "T" Shaped Banner Nib
Mounted On A Brown Barrel / Gold Filled Radial Engraved Cap Skyline
The second variation is an inverted "T" shaped banner that boxes
in the logo and the nib slit. This design also makes the Eversharp name the centerpiece
of the nib, but adds a sense of movement with the top line splitting and shooting
outward to the point of the nib. It's more visually dramatic than the other two
versions and more unified than the teardrop style. It's my second choice, but
a strong second. There are examples of this nib in a very attractive two-tone
full platinum or palladium mask, with the "T" banner left in gold.
Later Diagonal Single Line Banner Nib
With Plain Tines
Mounted On An All Gray Plastic Skyline
A third design, that appears to have come later is a simplified version of
the first, omitting the teardrop stamping. This design makes the Eversharp name
the centerpiece of the nib. It's a classic look, but definitely looks plain next
to the other two designs. This style is also carried forward well into the 1950s
and can be seen on the Symphony and early Ventura models.
From Very Firm To Very Flexible - How To Tell
A Side By Side Shot Of A Firm Skyline
Nib (Left) And A Flexible Nib (Right)
Many collectors actively seek flexible nibs. They are prized for their soft
touch on paper or their expressive line variation. By the 1940s, flexible nibs
were on the way out, with users favoring pens with nibs stiff enough to write
through carbons, a common requirement in business offices of the times, before
the advent of the photocopier. Parker and Sheaffer, the market leaders, proudly
led this shift, with the new Parker 51 and Sheaffer Triumph being advertised often
as firm, but smooth writers. Flexible Triumph nibs are rare indeed, and virtually
unheard of on Parker 51s.
Three Flexible Skyline Nibs From (Left
to Right) Blunt Barrel "First Year" / Demi / Standard Size Pens
Though not common, Skylines with flexible nibs aren't especially difficult
to find, and the premium is not steep. I've picked up Skylines as parts pens with
flexible nibs on them. Since Eversharp nibs are rarely marked by type or size,
so checking the shape of the nib helps identify what it is. The final call is
done hands-on, but you can get an idea if the nib is flexible visually, even in
a photo. Some Manifold and Flexible nibs will be marked above the "MADE IN USA" line on plain nibs.
Firm and Manifold nibs will have high shoulders, with the three points of the
tip to the two edges being close together and almost forming an isoscoles triangle.
The tines, therefore, will be short. Flexible nibs have a more teardrop shape,
with longer tines coming to a much more pronounced point. The shoulders will be
lower, and closer to the center of the nib. On paper, a flexible nib should have
a lot of give and the tines should spread apart easily without a lot of downward
pressure. If the nib feels soft, but the tines don't spread a lot, then the nib
is a semi-flex. The "normal" nib is stiff, with a little give, and the
Manifold, is, well, capable of marking pilot holes for your drill.
Eversharp Skyline Manifold Nib
Mounted On A Gray Modern Stripe Skyline
If you want a great writing vintage pen with a variety of interesting
nibs that won't break your budget, the Eversharp Skyline should be on your list.
The design, as with many things, is always going to be a matter of taste, but
I've found the pen's design has a tendency to grow on you with use. There is a
great variety of color and material combinations, many of which are not budget
breakers, which will keep your collecting appetite busy for a long time. I still
have the first gray Modern Stripe Skyline I bought, one of my early vintage pen
purchases, and it gets out quite a bit. I never see anything like it in the hands
of people I work with. Write with one every day, and it will sneak into your rotation.
Write with a flexible, expressive Skyline and it may not leave your hand!
Comments on this article may be sent to Jim Mamoulides