Vintage metal mechanical pencils cover image

Inside My Collection – Vintage Metal Pencils

John BosleyVintage 4 Comments

In this series, I want to give you a peek inside my collection of vintage fountain-pen-related items. Today we’re going to look at some of the vintage metal pencils that I’ve collected. These include a variety of silver and gold pencils. I have never actively collected vintage pencils, but am always happy to pick one up when the opportunity arises. I especially like finding pencils that are in interesting patterns that I haven’t seen before.

As with most vintage items in my collection, I don’t claim to be an expert on these pencils. I think items like these are a fascinating part of our hobby and want to share them here so that hopefully you can get some enjoyment out of them like I do!

Pencil Materials

Vintage metal pencils came in a few different materials. Gold and silver were the most popular, but occasionally you’ll come across an aluminum pencil. I don’t have any aluminum pencils at the moment, but used to and they are really interesting. The texture and weight are noticeably different than silver and gold.

Silver and gold pencils come in a few different qualities. For silver, there is silver plated and sterling silver. Silver plated pencils, as you can probably guess, have a silver plating on the surface of the pencil. I would assume that the “base” of the pencil is steel, but don’t know that for sure. Pencils that are marked sterling are solid silver.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils silver plated

Most silver pencils are silver plated

Vintage metal mechanical pencils sterling silver

Solid silver pencils are engraved “Sterling”

For gold pencils, there are also a few different variations. Gold filled is going to be the most common and is the same thing as silver plated, just a layer of gold on the surface of the pencil. Solid gold pencils were also made but they are very rare, so the chances of finding one “in the wild” are pretty low.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils gold filled

Gold plated pencils are marked “gold filled”

Wahl-Eversharp Pencils

One of the most popular types of vintage metal pencils is Wahl-Eversharp. They are one of the pioneers of mechanical pencils and initially only made pencils before eventually expanding into also making fountain pens. From what I can tell, they invented this particular type of self-propelling mechanical pencil that was so popular in the first half of the 20th century.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils wahl gold filled pencils

Wahl-Eversharp gold-filled pencils in two different colors

Other Brands

In addition to Wahl-Eversharp, many other popular fountain pen manufacturers also made metal mechanical pencils. In my collection I have metal pencils from Parker, Sheaffer and Conklin. There are also a lot of pencils out there that are made by manufacturers that no longer exist and may have only made pencils. I have pencils made by Sarastro, Redipoint, Never-Dull, and Artpoint.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils sheaffer parker

These are examples of pencils from Sheaffer and Parker

Vintage metal mechanical pencils sarastro

This interesting pencil was made by Sarastro

Patterns

Regardless of which brand of pencil you look at, you’re bound to find a variety of different patterns engraved on the surface. The most common patterns you’ll see are chevron (repeating V-shaped lines), Greek key (repeating square-wave pattern along the length of the pencil), columns of parallel lines, and blank.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils patterns

Here are examples of (L-R) chevron, wavy?, Greek key and column patterns.

There are a variety of other patterns out there as well and they tend to vary from brand to brand. Some of these include (my names, not official): checkerboard, diamonds, zig-zags, floral, and many more.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils patterns

There are a variety of different patterns out there

Some of my favorite patterns are the hand-engraved floral patterns. Since these were done by hand, each pencil is unique, which makes them very collectible in my eyes. I am sure that other patterns were also done by hand, but I unfortunately don’t have any examples of those.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils hand engraved

Hand engraved pencils are beautiful

Sizes

As with fountain pens, mechanical pencils came in a variety of sizes. While all were basically the same diameter, the length had different variations. The longest pencil options typically came with a clip so they could be carried in a shirt or jacket pocket. Shorter pencils had a ring on top where a chain or ribbon could be attached.

The shortest pencils in my collection measure just a little over 2.5 inches long and the longest pencils measure around 5.25 inches long.

Vintage metal mechanical pencils sizes

Vintage pencils came in a variety of sizes

Vintage metal mechanical pencils conklin

Conklin put a clip on their pencil that is the same length as one with a ringtop from Wahl-Eversharp.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoy the variety of patterns and brands that exist in the world of vintage metal mechanical pencils. They are not considered to be very collectible, which means that they are not highly sought after and are also quite affordable. Many of mine do not work, so I can’t say that I use all of the pencils that I own, but I still enjoy handling them and looking at them. I hope that you’ve enjoyed a peek inside my pencil collection. Maybe the next time you see one of these vintage beauties, you’ll take a bit of time to enjoy it!

Vintage metal mechanical pencils Artpoint

I like the design of this Artpoint pencil

If you enjoyed this post about metal pencils, be sure to check out my post on vintage non-metal pencils.

Comments 4

  1. The shorter pencils were most probably used by women for listing the names of their dance partners in their books at balls and other events?

    1. That is what I was told as well by an elderly woman who recalled receiving one (ring top model) at her debutante ball, engraved with her monogram and attached to a silver chain, known as a “chatelaine”. She’d carry her dance card and would fill out the name of young men who had asked for a chance to twirl her about the ballroom floor.

      Can you imagine such a lovely event these days?

  2. John
    Great article. What a COOL collection! And SO beautiful. Any chance of finding someone who could perhaps fix any of them that are not working?
    Your mention of a solid gold pencil makes me wonder how that could survive through the years. You would think that it would become too valuable to resist having it melted down. But can you imagine what a beauty that would be to see!!!!??? The sheer weight of it would make it special.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks, Rich! From what I’ve heard, no one really specializes in repairing these pencils. I briefly looked into it and heard from a few different people that it’s not really done. I’ve considered trying to figure it out myself, but haven’t had much luck.

      I was lucky enough to see and hold a solid gold pen/pencil set at the LA pen show . They are amazing and quite heavy!

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