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Sterling SIlver Skyline?


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#1 Wahlnut

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 00:28

At the Washington '07 DC show (last year), there was some considerable interest being shown to a Skyline pen with a Sterling Silver cap. Or was it a complete pen? (I think it was just the cap). Some folks came over to the Pensbury Manor table to ask what it could be? Was it authentic? Since few if any were reported seen by others in the past was it really that rare? Was it worth the asking price? etc., etc. I had to admit that I had not seen a bare Sterling silver capped Skyline before that. It went for some large bucks at the show too.

I had not thought too much about it until a recent question about what Skylines were gold filled, solid gold etc, and how to identify gold content came my way. I intend to put up a post on that broad topic very soon, but as luck would have it, as I was going through the archives on that topic, I stumbled upon some information that made the old light bulb go off about that silver Skyline.

In the way of some background, among the various higher quality Skylines, (and Fifth Avenues) there were a few that were meant to be used as gifts for special and some very special occasions. The prices for these pens ranged from about $9 to $125 when new. Among the lower end (price range-wise) of these pens were a few levels of the "Presentation" pen. The basic Presentation Pens had a gold filled cap sleeve, pocket clip and lever and a plastic derby and plastic body. That pen was either a model 60 (large) or model 61 (smaller) pen. Next up the price line was the D60/J60 and D61/J61. Again the 60 was the larger pen and the 61 was the smaller one. These had a gold filled cap sleevel, pocket clip and lever AND derby. The D pens were sold in pens and stationery stores and the J pens were sold in Jewelry stores (This should sound sound familiar to those who followed the history of the Coronet pens, in another thread here on the Wahl-Eversharp forum, right?) In reading further, I found that some of these pens were not just gold filled over brass as usual, but gold filled over STERLING SILVER!

So that's where the sterling silver cap came from? Ahah! Mystery solved, right? Well not quite. As mentioned before from my experience, not all gold filled "presentation pens were over sterling silver. As a matter of fact most of the pens I have seen are not. The majority of the gold filled pens are as usual over brass. But during the height of WWII brass as going into cartridges for all kinds of munitions from rifles to howitzers, and the need for brass made many a pen company have to use less "militarily important" metals like gold and silver instead of brass and copper (an element needed to make brass let alone electrical wirings and windings of all kinds). Hmmm, What year was the penny made of zinc? 1943, right?. In what year were the advertisements for Presentation Skylines that boasted "gold filled over sterling silver"? 1943! OK, so we can deduce that in 1943 Skyline Presentation pens were gold filled over sterling silver. That tells us that making cap barrels for Skylines out of sterling silver was not unusual (at least for one year) in 1943.

But this does not answer the question why at least one pen came to be made without the expected gold fill laminate? It would be easy as pie to just not gold fill one and make a sterling silver one. Is that what happened? Or was the gold filled laminate removed down to the sterling silver beneath on the pen in question? If it was meant to be a Sterling Silver pen, certainly the pen would be marked sterling silver, right?Maybe. I think I remember the purchaser of the pen that triggered this issue at the '07 DC show...John, was that you? You know who you are. Would you mind chiming in here to tell us if the pen you purchased was marked "sterling silver"? That might tell us something about if the pen in question was "meant to be" sterling silver from the get go.

I'll stop here for now. I promised another inquirer that I would write some information about what Command Performance Skylines were gold filled or solid gold. I will do that in another post very soon.
Syd

Edited by Wahlnut, 31 August 2008 - 00:34.

Syd "the Wahlnut" Saperstein
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#2 Vintagepens

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 01:56

The sterling silver capped Skyline is a rare, model but has been known to collectors for a long, long time. Yes, during the war quite a few Skylines were made with gold filled over silver caps, but they were invariably marked with the gold content. Polishing the gold surface down to the silver is possible, however the metal content stamps would remain. I have yet to see any fake sterling silver capped Skylines.

#3 Wahlnut

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 02:52

Thanks David. I've heard about them, but the one I held at the 07 show was the first one I have ever saw in person. It sounds like you have had one or two in your hands before. Can you remember what the pen said on the silver? Do you have a photo of one that shows the silver marking? I just can't recall if there was and if so what the inscription was. The pens that were made properly, I suppose, would have had the sterling silver marking. I just can not remember if the one I held had it or not. Maybe John still has the pen and can help us out here.

Syd
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#4 jellybelly1

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 03:07

Hi Syd,

Fascinating article. I had read about the very few sterling silver caps being produced, but I had never actually talked to anyone who had seen one in person.

The gold filled over sterling silver is something I never knew about. It would be great to find out more about how to identify these vs. pens which were

just gold filled over brass

I can't wait for the other article !

Thank you Syd,

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#5 Vintagepens

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 19:37

I'm afraid I don't recall how the sterling silver capped Skylines are marked.

As for the use of gold over silver, it was very common in US pen manufacture during WW2. Take a look at my 1995 PENnant article on the subject, posted here. It's easy to tell what's underneath, in most cases. If there's any plating wear, the silver substrate will be visible. If there's any tarnish, that will also make the identity of the substrate clear -- gold over silver tarnishes much more easily and with a very different look than GF over brass (which has to do with migration of silver ions to the surface).

#6 Hoarder68

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 20:12

If it is sterling silver or vermeil it is not gold filled. It is gold electroplate over sterling silver. Any one who tells you heavy gold electroplate is the same as gold filled is misinformed.

#7 Wahlnut

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 23:24

QUOTE (Hoarder68 @ Sep 2 2008, 01:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If it is sterling silver or vermeil it is not gold filled. It is gold electroplate over sterling silver. Any one who tells you heavy gold electroplate is the same as gold filled is misinformed.


I understand gold plate, I do not really understand gold fill except from tech articles about the process. Could you please expand on this a little? Is there something about silver that made it impossible or impractical to do the gold fill laminate onto silver as opposed to brass? Up to now I thought you could gold fill gold on silver. Tell us more.

Syd
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www.wahleversharp.com
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#8 Hoarder68

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 23:40

QUOTE (Wahlnut @ Sep 2 2008, 07:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Hoarder68 @ Sep 2 2008, 01:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If it is sterling silver or vermeil it is not gold filled. It is gold electroplate over sterling silver. Any one who tells you heavy gold electroplate is the same as gold filled is misinformed.


I understand gold plate, I do not really understand gold fill except from tech articles about the process. Could you please expand on this a little? Is there something about silver that made it impossible or impractical to do the gold fill laminate onto silver as opposed to brass? Up to now I thought you could gold fill gold on silver. Tell us more.

Syd
Gold filled is a process where a layer of solid gold is under high pressure is welded to a base metal. Silver could be used as the base metal but I have never seen this used. The gold layer can be 10K, 12K, 14K and some times even 18K, but this is rare. If a gold filled item is marked 12KGF it must have 1/20 of the weight 12K gold. If it is a higher grade of gold it will normally be marked 1/10 12KGF. This means 1/10 the weight of the item is 12K gold. On a watch case marked 20 year case it is 1/20 of the grade of gold used. If it is a 30 year case it is 1/10 of the grade of the gold used. Even heavy gold electroplate will show signs of brassing with nominal use in less than one year.


#9 Vintagepens

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 15:19

QUOTE (Hoarder68 @ Sep 2 2008, 07:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gold filled is a process where a layer of solid gold is under high pressure is welded to a base metal. Silver could be used as the base metal but I have never seen this used.

Just take a look at a typical WW2-era Skyline for an example. They are clearly marked "1/10 14K GOLD FILLED" and the substrate is silver. Wartime Parker 51 caps were also GF over silver; Sheaffer did the same. Again, take a look at my article linked above.
QUOTE
The gold layer can be 10K, 12K, 14K and some times even 18K, but this is rare.

In American pen and pencil manufacture, the leading makers normally used a gold layer of at least 14K. 18K was less common, but was far from rare in this particular context. Older GF Waterman overlays were 18K GF, which was explicitly noted on the clips.



#10 Hoarder68

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 19:36

QUOTE (Vintagepens @ Sep 3 2008, 11:19 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Hoarder68 @ Sep 2 2008, 07:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Gold filled is a process where a layer of solid gold is under high pressure is welded to a base metal. Silver could be used as the base metal but I have never seen this used.

Just take a look at a typical WW2-era Skyline for an example. They are clearly marked "1/10 14K GOLD FILLED" and the substrate is silver. Wartime Parker 51 caps were also GF over silver; Sheaffer did the same. Again, take a look at my article linked above.
QUOTE
The gold layer can be 10K, 12K, 14K and some times even 18K, but this is rare.

In American pen and pencil manufacture, the leading makers normally used a gold layer of at least 14K. 18K was less common, but was far from rare in this particular context. Older GF Waterman overlays were 18K GF, which was explicitly noted on the clips.

Being more familiar with markings on watches and jewelry I was not aware of this. I have seen gold plated pens referred to as gold filled here and I know there was a law passed in 1906 requiring that items be marked as to gold or silver content.

#11 DerTiefster

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 21:13

folks, I _know_ that this is an old thread, but it has info I stumbled across when looking for wartime WahlEversharp product info.  Interesting info.

 

Parker (and Sheaffer?) made vermeil pens.  I have a very lovely Parker 75 vermeil which is quite clearly marked Sterling Silver & 14K GF. I really like the cisele sterling pens, and the sterling & GF ones just have that blush of difference in appearance. These were made 20+ yrs after the Skylines mentioned above, but the sterling and gold fill was still in use.  Later it became a plating (20 microns thick?) but the golf filled was, IIRC, a significant layer, requiring 1/20 or 1/10 (as labeled) of the metal piece weight to be of the labeled 14k or other gold alloy.  Gold filled is (as I understand) a cold-welded bond of gold to an underlying metal.



#12 mitto

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 17:02

folks, I _know_ that this is an old thread, but it has info I stumbled across when looking for wartime WahlEversharp product info.  Interesting info.
 
Parker (and Sheaffer?) made vermeil pens.  I have a very lovely Parker 75 vermeil which is quite clearly marked Sterling Silver & 14K GF. I really like the cisele sterling pens, and the sterling & GF ones just have that blush of difference in appearance. These were made 20+ yrs after the Skylines mentioned above, but the sterling and gold fill was still in use.  Later it became a plating (20 microns thick?) but the golf filled was, IIRC, a significant layer, requiring 1/20 or 1/10 (as labeled) of the metal piece weight to be of the labeled 14k or other gold alloy.  Gold filled is (as I understand) a cold-welded bond of gold to an underlying metal.



+1

I have the Parker 75 vermeil (gold filled / gold plated over sterling silver) in both 14k gold filled and gold plated versions.
Khan

#13 joss

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 09:23

Upon revival of this 8-year old thread, I was reading the original question on the exact imprint on Sterling silver Skyline caps. A few years ago I found a Sterling silver cap on a Wahl Skyline with gold trims (gold plated lever, clip and clip washer ring).

 

The imprint on the cap lip is simply "STERLING" in small capitals. No other imprints than that. So the Sterling caps are genuine indeed and not 'gold filled over Sterling silver' caps of which the gold was polished away (see comments on that above).

 

My pen is disassembled and quite rough (with a broken Wahl clip unfortunately) but I will try to include a few pictures of the cap and imprint later.


Edited by joss, 15 December 2016 - 09:28.







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