Prints & Cards
by Jim Mamoulides 1/1/02 - Updated 12/29/02
Wearever's 1940s Flagship
I'm writing this after having completed the article on the Wahl Eversharp Pacemaker pens, and it occurred to me that there is another pen that uses the Pacemaker name that might actually be better known in Pendom than the Wahl pen. I'm speaking, of course, of the Wearever Pacemaker. The Pacemaker name graced a 1940s model of the Wearever line, a knockoff of the 1940s Parker Duofold pens with the longitudinal striped laminated cap and barrels. The Pacemaker was Wearever's top line during the 1940s.
Wearever has always been associated with the low and lowest end of the pen market. Even today, after having sold off their pen business, Wearever is a company that focuses on the low end of the household market, making cheap pots and pans, for example. The company started before World War One in North Bergen, New Jersey. In the 1930s and 1940s, Wearever actually made several attractive pens, using interesting plastics, but in most cases, copying the designs of others and making them a lot cheaper.
Wearevers from the 1940s are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch, being the most well made, attractive, and reliable. One can find Wearevers of that vintage fitted with 14 karat gold nibs and vintage pens can often be found in working order even after some sixty years. In my experience, many later Wearevers are so notoriously cheap, that they are best used as pens to teach re-sacking and finishing. Bladders are very often disintegrated, rust is everywhere, and plating is so thin that is wears off in chunks.
In the 1950s, Wearever, following the lead of others, made lever fillers and cartridge pens, as well as ballpoints. Some sources say that by the end of the 1950s, Wearever was the largest volume producer of pens in the world, probably due to their focus on the lowest price point. Doesn't work? Throw it away and get another one! Wearever made pens into the 1970s, before abandoning the market.
A Knock Off With Some Interesting Features
The Pacemaker was clearly a knockoff of the 1940s Parker Duofold. From the clip style to the longitudinal laminated plastic, to the button filler, this pen was meant to be a "poor man's Duofold."
Wearever made no attempt to duplicate Parker's Vacumatic fill system, opting instead to copy the over 30 year old button-filling system. No patent infringement case here! Nor did Wearever attempt to produce a matching or even flush fitting end-cap as Parker did. Instead, in the interest of making the pen cheap, the cap is reputed to be the same as that used on car tire valve stems. One theory is that Wearever also made valve caps for Jeeps during the war and this was a logical choice. In the interest of scientifically proving out the theory, I took this cap and swapped it with the one from my truck. They are the same! The rumor may be true.
Although this was intended as a low cost pen, selling for US $2.75, it is fitted with a 14-karat gold nib. Interestingly, the feed is clear plastic, certainly not hard rubber! This clear plastic feed, promoted as the "C-Flow" feed, allows the user to "see the flow" of ink, supposedly making it easy to see when the pen needs to be refilled, as the feed looks clearer when the ink starts to run out. This may somehow be easier to make than visulated sections, but Wearever installed those on pens at this time, also. This feed also appears on the sister Zenith pen.
The Pacemaker was made probably from about 1940 through 1950, paralleling the lifespan of the Parker Striped Duofold. The Pacemaker was pushed as an upscale pen, the next step up from the Zenith, with which it was often paired in advertisements. After the war, both pens were pushed in the back to school efforts, with advertisements saying, "Send them to school whistling!" and "Great gifts for graduation!"
Pacemakers are most commonly found in the wild in this striped version with 14 karat nibs. They can also be found with steel nibs and in marbled plastics, and some were made as lever-fillers. Though I haven't seen any examples, there are reports of many other Pacemaker variations, as Wearever was a very high volume manufacturer and made many pen lines.
The very similar Deluxe or Deluxe 100 is virtually the same pen as a lever-fill and an alloy nib. The Meteor is also a very similar line.
I tested this Pacemaker, fitted with a firm medium nib. The pen was new old stock, still in the original box. The pen is fairly large, about 5 3/8 inches long capped and 6 3/8 inches posted. It's on the lightweight side, being all-plastic, and the cap adds very little weight when posted. The Pacemaker is a well balanced pen, either capped or posted.
The Pacemaker plastic is actually very nice, but it will not fool you that you have a Parker Duofold in your hand. It's not translucent, especially as it is a button filler. The fit and finish is fair to good. The clip is not tight with the top of the cap, and though secure, it looks bad. The trim ring on the cap is loose, probably due to shrinkage of the plastic. The plastic and the trim plating has held up very well, with no discoloration nor brassing. The cap top is a plain plastic. No "jewel" here.
The clip has some spring, but not enough for really thick material. The pen sits low in the pocket, as a Duofold would. The Pacemaker is a little fussy filling, needing a few pumps to really fill well, not as efficient a button filler as the Duofold.
The nib has very little flex, and is not really that smooth and writes on the dry side. A generic dry writing experience.
Basically these are cheap pens, this one being the pinnacle of the Wearever brand. Pacemakers are among the more "collectible" of that brand, in my opinion. Some work on the nib to smooth it would yield a more satisfying writer.
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