Eversharp Envoy c1948
by Jim Mamoulides, November 18, 2012
Top of the line in 1948
Collectors of 1940s Eversharp pens will be familiar with the very easy to find Skyline, Fifth Avenue and Symphony pens. The Skyline was one of the best selling pens in the 1940s, having a strong run of nearly eight years. Eversharp introduced the Fifth Avenue in 1945 along with the ill-fated CA ballpoint pen, a disastrous quality failure that permanently crippled the company.
Needing to refresh the pen lines as the Skyline was aging out of fashion and the Fifth Avenue likely strongly associated with the CA ballpoint debacle, Eversharp turned to famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy for its next pen line, the Symphony. Eversharp had great success using industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss for the Skyline, and Loewy, like Dreyfuss, designed for many consumer products, also emphasizing streamlining and use of modern materials. The Symphony launched in 1948 and took the popular price point of $5.00 for the fountain pen and $3.75 for the matching Repeater pencil.
The Loewy designed Symphony had a radical streamlined metal cap. It is bullet shaped with slightly offset halves, with a pronounced “step” edge at the top where the clip is mounted, giving it the appearance of a slipper, thus the common name, "slipper cap," given by collectors. The clip is mounted on the front, lower face of the cap, with "EVERSHARP" stamped down the length. The rest of the pen is surprisingly like the Skyline, with a very similar nib, feed and section, a less tapered barred, and a lever fill mechanism. The 1948 Symphony was produced in bright colors: red, green, blue and black. It would be 1949 before the Symphony line would be expanded to include higher end adornments such as cap bands, and gold filled caps.
As best as I am able to tell, from a single Christmas 1948 advertisement, found in Life Magazine's December 13, 1948 issue, the top of the 1948 Eversharp pen line was the all gold fill Envoy. I have seen no advertisements for the Envoy after 1948, nor any catalog information showing the pen after that year. It appears that the pen had a single year of production.
The Envoy has a more generic cigar shape than the Symphony and lacks some first model Symphony features, such as the obvious lack of the "slipper" cap, a rounded top clip (which does appear on all subsequent Symphony models), and no metal thread ring on the section (the Envoy has a slip on cap), so it is possible that Loewy was not involved with the design.
Overall it is a much plainer pen than the Symphony, with the sole exception of the tight line pattern cut into the cap and barrel, which give the pen visual interest. I have not seen the matching Repeater pencil, but it appears to be similar in look, but also has the Art Deco stepped push button, so it would be a little more elegant.
After the purchase of Eversharp by Parker in 1958, Parker revived the Envoy name, using it for an all gold plate ballpoint and pencil set, c1959.
Identification guide and features:
- Gold filled cap and barrel, marked "1/10 14KT Y.G.F. PAT. MADE IN U.S.A." on the cap lip, and the top edge of the barrel
- Gold plated clip, marked "MADE IN U.S.A." at the top face with "EVERSHARP" running down the clip. This is the same clip design used on the Symphony starting in 1949
- Evenly spaced parallel lines cut into the cap and barrel lengthwise
- Solid 14 karat gold nib marked "EVERSHARP" over "14K" over "PAT."
- Cap slips on with no clutch, it is a friction fit
- Unknown nib availability, but the nib is the short type seen in many Eversharp models starting with the Skyline, so it's likely the full range of nib types were available
- About 5 1/4 inches long capped, about 5 7/8 inches long with the cap posted on the end of the barrel, about 3/8 inches across the widest part
- Weighs .6 ounce
- Lever filling system
- Retail price for the fountain pen was US $15.00 and matching pencil was US $7.50
- Presented in a leatherette gift box
One of the very best things about Eversharp pens from the 1940s are the nibs. They are some of the best writing vintage pens from any era, but the 1940s decade models have a special place for me. Eversharp Skyline and Symphony pens in particular are more likely to be found with flexible nibs than pens from most other manufacturers in the same period. Eversharp also made excellent manifold (very stiff), semi-flexible and everyday nibs, so the brand has something for just about any collector.
The nib on this Envoy is a very smooth writing firm fine. The pen fills easily with a stroke of the lever, followed by a count to ten and is immediately ready to write. I find it glides nicely, with a very even line.
I picked up this Envoy at the 2012 Washington, D. C. pen show, primarily because I happen to really like 1940s Eversharp pens and because I have never actually had an Envoy and always wanted to try one. The Envoy is of particular interest because unlike the Skyline, there is no all gold fill Symphony. The gold-plated cap Golden Symphony is the closest, so the Envoy is the next best thing to it.
It was actually a surprise when I took it home and compared it with my collection of Symphonies. I have examples of all the variations I know of, from all three types in production. The Envoy is smaller than the Symphony in almost every way. It is shorter and more slender. It has a shorter nib and section. It weighs less.
I particularly like the size and shape. It's very much the same dimensions as the Sheaffer TM Touchdown Triumph, about 5 1/4 inches long with the cap on and 5 7/8 inches long with the cap posted on the end of the barrel. The pen feels a shade to small to me without the cap posted, very comfortable posted and the cap is quite secure. I can see from the design, however, that posting this pen will eventually wear on the gold fill barrel, and especially on the lever. This is also a lightweight pen, weighing only .6 ounce. It clips nicely to the pocket and is great in the hand.
My Envoy did not come with the presentation box, but from what I have seen on display and sales, I believe Eversharp used the same box for the Symphony, as shown here.
According to many collectors I have discussed with and read, the Envoy is an unusual pen to find. I don't know that they are rare, but would say uncommon. That they are not shown in advertisements after 1948, and the broadening of the Symphony line indicate to me that this was a single year model.
If you are looking to round out your collection of 1940s Eversharp pens, the Envoy is a nice addition indeed. It's a nice daily writer and a handsome pen to boot.