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P51 Sterling Silver Caps...


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#1 Offret

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 22:33

I notice that the P51 Vacumatics with sterling silver and coin silver caps are going for a premium on eBay compared to the gold-filled models...

 

I find this fascinating considering the gold-filled caps were actually more expensive in the 1940s, and considered an upgrade from the sterling silver caps...

 

Why do you think this is? Can't be rarity...can it?



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#2 Kelly G

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 23:43

I will venture a guess to say that one reason is the Sterling Silver caps are not easily found in great condition.  The sterling is soft and easily damaged.  There may be other reasons.


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#3 inkstainedruth

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 00:07

I suspect that part of it is also because gold-filled isn't completely gold -- it's an alloy (although more durable than gold plating is).  I have a couple of Morrison filigree overlay ringtops, and would love to get one of the sterling filigree overlay pens as a companion -- but the sterling ones are way more expensive than the gold-filled ones.  So it's probably same thing for the 51s with sterling caps (a perceived value).  Of course solid gold would be way more expensive than either (and possibly more than both combined).

Back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, there were some guys who decided to corner the silver market.  Which was quite annoying for the people in the jewelry-making class I was taking at the time.  One girl decided to do a project in "German silver" (aka, nickel) because it was less expensive, only to discover that the nickel was way harder a material than sterling silver -- I don't know how many saw blades she broke in the process....  And jewelry saws are a little on the fragile side to begin with.  :(  

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#4 Glenn-SC

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 00:54

Per the parkerpens.net website: 

"Gold filled or Overlay: 

A solid layer of gold, mechanically bonded to brass, or sometimes other materials, with heat and pressure. Usually about 80-120 micrometer thick. One micrometer is 1/1000 of a millimeter. (ca. 0.000039 inches)
To be stamped 10K the layer must equal at least 1/10 of the total weight of the item.
To be stamped 12K or higher the layer must equal at least 1/20 the total weight of the item."



#5 inkstainedruth

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 01:36

Thanks for the info.  I have one 51 Vac where the cap is stamped as being 1/10 16K.  So now I'm wondering what that means.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


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#6 Glenn-SC

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 08:29

Thanks for the info.  I have one 51 Vac where the cap is stamped as being 1/10 16K.  So now I'm wondering what that means.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

There is a layer of 16k gold bonded to a substrate that is 1/10 the thickness of the cap (assuming that the gold and the substrate weigh the same).

 

(EDIT)

I just checked and gold is roughly twice as dense as brass (goth have varied densities based on their particular alloys).

So, you "1/10 16k" cap, if the base metal is brass, has a layer of 16k gold that is 1/20th the thickness of the cap wall and the remaining 19/20th of the thickness is brass.


Edited by Glenn-SC, 04 December 2017 - 09:39.


#7 Offret

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:33

I suspect that part of it is also because gold-filled isn't completely gold -- it's an alloy (although more durable than gold plating is).  I have a couple of Morrison filigree overlay ringtops, and would love to get one of the sterling filigree overlay pens as a companion -- but the sterling ones are way more expensive than the gold-filled ones.  So it's probably same thing for the 51s with sterling caps (a perceived value).  Of course solid gold would be way more expensive than either (and possibly more than both combined).

Back in the late 1970s/early 1980s, there were some guys who decided to corner the silver market.  Which was quite annoying for the people in the jewelry-making class I was taking at the time.  One girl decided to do a project in "German silver" (aka, nickel) because it was less expensive, only to discover that the nickel was way harder a material than sterling silver -- I don't know how many saw blades she broke in the process....  And jewelry saws are a little on the fragile side to begin with.  :(  

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

Likewise, the sterling silver on the P51 caps is "rolled" and then plated with rhodium I believe. If the caps were solid sterling silver they would be a lot more - naturally. Maybe they are just less common as people were likely to step up to gold-filled caps as they were only $2.50 more in 1941 (equal to about $40 today).



#8 mitto

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:53

Likewise, the sterling silver on the P51 caps is "rolled" and then plated with rhodium I believe. If the caps were solid sterling silver they would be a lot more - naturally. Maybe they are just less common as people were likely to step up to gold-filled caps as they were only $2.50 more in 1941 (equal to about $40 today).


The sterling silver caps were solid silver. Yes, these were rhodium plated and the plating did not hold well for long. The 'rolled silver' caps were 'English only' production and came with earo 51s.
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#9 Offret

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 12:40

The sterling silver caps were solid silver. Yes, these were rhodium plated and the plating did not hold well for long. The 'rolled silver' caps were 'English only' production and came with earo 51s.

 

Learn something new every day - thanks! 

 

And I guess I was wrong in presuming that a solid, sterling-silver cap would be more expensive than a gold-filled one. 



#10 Tom Heath

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 16:44

Today several enterprising  pen guys take to sanding off the pinstriping down to the Sterling smooth and either go with that or  take a ball peen hammer to it and develop a Mexican styled hand hammered look...

 

It for sure takes a lot of effort  but the results  are quite fine   vs.  the look when the   Pallidum coating is worn,..

 

Hard to believe the Sterling  pens originally were more expensive than the Gold Filled  either 10, 12 or 16 parts. 

 

with the  Solid gold being  up top.


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#11 Vintagepens

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 20:41

This would seem to be more a matter of changing tastes, along with differing markets -- buyers of new items vs. collectors of old. The latter strongly prefer silver over gold filled, whether with 51 caps or early overlays. As noted above, gold filled consistently was priced higher than sterling silver when new.

 

PS I believe the fraction in the markings on gold filled items refers to weight rather than thickness. Gold being significantly more valuable than silver, 1/10 gold filled will be worth much more than sterling silver of the same thickness, even if the gold layer is alloy.



#12 Offret

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 22:09

Today several enterprising  pen guys take to sanding off the pinstriping down to the Sterling smooth and either go with that or  take a ball peen hammer to it and develop a Mexican styled hand hammered look...

 

It for sure takes a lot of effort  but the results  are quite fine   vs.  the look when the   Pallidum coating is worn,..

 

Hard to believe the Sterling  pens originally were more expensive than the Gold Filled  either 10, 12 or 16 parts. 

 

with the  Solid gold being  up top.

 

The problem with the sterling caps - for me personally - is the gold clip. I'm not a fan of two-tone watches or pens. I've seen a couple sterling silver 51s with the nickel clips - they look nice(er), but I would still take a converging line or IIII line gold filled cap over it. :)

 

From what I've read, the sterling silver pens were not more expensive than the gold-filled versions. 



#13 FarmBoy

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 02:49

I seem to recall seeing an article in Pen World about the 51 silver caps.  Might have been 18 months ago now.

 

Note that Sterling silver was essentially a byproduct of copper mining and was plentiful in the 40s.


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