Friday, November 30, 2012

From CNN (with video):
All you might feel is someone brush by you and a slight pin prick. But very quickly you would be suffering muscle paralysis followed by suffocation. You would be dead within a very short period of time. . .

Disguised to look like a Parker ballpoint pen, it contains a poison needle and is practically impossible to identify as a weapon.
Not for sale, luckily -- recently found in the possession of a North Korean assassin. He was also carrying a pen gun that resembled a Parker fountain pen, which shot a poisoned bullet, and a three-shot "flashlight". Apparently only the flashlight was new to South Korean intelligence, the other two devices having been around for some ten years or more.

ADDENDUM: To clarify, the two devices in their North Korean versions are of fairly recent date, but they are hardly new inventions. Both are decades old, and were Cold War staples. A recent episode of PBS' History Detectives was devoted to the development of the poison pin. Thanks to a faithful reader and correspondent for comments and the link.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doric photo inlays

Every so often one runs across an Eversharp Doric with a snapshot portrait set into its cap. We sold an example from our catalog a few months back; as far as I can recall, it was the first such pen we'd ever listed.
With exemplary timing, last week we were able to acquire a 1935-dated brochure promoting these photo inlays. How long they were offered is unknown; Eversharp catalogs do not mention them, and though I have a vague recollection of some other documentation having been published long ago, they remain a bit of a mystery.

A FEW FURTHER THOUGHTS: It is interesting that the brochure makes no mention of the cost of this service, nor of how one went about getting this personalized inlay. Was it available only on special order, or could it be done to a pen already made? On Dorics, it was surely done as part of the manufacturing process, for it would have been a delicate operation indeed to mill out a recess on the back of a Doric cap, inlay the photo and its clear cover, and then reshape the cover to match exactly and seamlessly the faceting of the rest of the cap. And if done in this manner, after the passage of decades the inlay would no longer match the rest of the cap so well as is observed in surviving examples. It should also be noted that Doric facets were not cut, but mold-formed under heat and pressure, making it all the more difficult to match a cap's original profile exactly by use of a cutting tool. Unfaceted pens and pencils would have been easier to retrofit with photo inlays, yet "easier" does not mean "easy". Seamless installation of an aftermarket inlay would have required considerable skilled hand labor, surely involving removal of the clip and re-turning of the cap on a lathe.

Given all this, Eversharp photo inlays must have been special-order, installed as part of the manufacturing process. Their cost was undoubtedly insufficient compensation for all the disruption they caused to a production line set up to turn out large quantities of identical components, not individual custom pens. My guess is that the photo inlays were dropped after a very short time indeed, though I'd be happy to be proved wrong by the discovery of any other advertising for them that significantly postdates the brochure shown above.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-Sandy outages

We are still having periodic power outages at the shop. The exact situation isn't clear, as the outages are unpredictable and affect the entire neighborhood. So far the main affect has been to slow down the listing of new items, but it has sometimes made us miss our shipping cutoff time, adding a day of delay in getting orders out.

PS All back to normal now (November 15), including our phone service which got rather scrambled by all the power fluctuations. We missed some days' worth of calls, as well as a number of voicemail messages -- so if you have been having trouble reaching us, please either call back or send us an email.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Korean faker goes straight?

The Korean faker now selling on eBay under the username sunpawel has now taken a new tack. He has now listed a Parker Duofold Junior "parts kit" in Mandarin Yellow, the key bits being his newly-made yellow cap and barrel, complete with Parker imprint. The big difference is that this time he is not presenting a completed pen as original, but rather is openly advertising his parts as reproductions. He is also stating that the imprint is not laser-engraved, and instead "Is made to the original process."

While this is an improvement on brazenly selling outright fakes, this is still far from good. The parts are not marked as reproductions, and are still designed to deceive. Unsuspecting collectors are still going to end up paying good money for fake pens -- if not directly to the faker, to those who buy from him.

It is unfortunate that Parker still seems to show no interest in protecting their trademarks, for sunpawel's operation could be shut down in a hurry if only Parker sent its lawyers after him for misappropriation of the "Parker" and the "Duofold" names. Montblanc and Pelikan certainly wouldn't hesitate to act, as we have seen on numerous occasions.