A couple of months ago, I wrote about how I had visited my family back in the United Kingdom, and my amazing mother had not only bought me gifts, but had managed to find a great old fountain pen that bought back some wonderful memories (the vintage Parker 45 Harlequin, with the dark shield pattern). Well, what I didn’t write about at the time, was the mechanical pencil that came from that same old writing desk…
This Scheaffer vintage Grapes and Leaves mechanical pencil is named after the delicately etched pattern which adorns the 12 karat gold filled barrel. Gold filled was a new term for me, and means (in somewhat basic terms) that a 12k gold sheet is fused to a base metal alloy such as brass or bronze. The pencil holds 0.9mm lead refills, and a small eraser. The lead is advanced by twisting the clip end of the pencil.
The pencil is in what is referred to as the Imperial style, denoted by the shape of the clip and the white dot inlaid near the top.
The etching runs the length of the pen, from almost end to end, and—whilst my taste wouldn’t let me call it truly beautiful (it’s a little fussy for me)—it is detailed, elegant, and an example of a high standard of design and manufacture.
At the centre of the pen, where the cap and clip push on to the barrel (containing the lead), the pencil is banded with the markings “12K GF Sheaffer USA”.
The pencil is housed in a clam-shell, faux leather box, lined with a velvet-like material, and held in place by a (now) rather loose fitting elastic band. The packaging and pencil are fairing rather well, since they both date from about 1970, and I must say, they’re looking better for it than I am.
As I said, the cap pulls off to reveal a small eraser, which was, understandably, unusable after almost 50 years. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the eraser looks to be a fairly average sort of size, and doesn’t look like I will have any trouble replacing it with some standard refills from the local Staples or someplace similar. If you pull the eraser off, you can then slide in some 0.9mm pencil refills, and the mechanism worked just fine with the ones I had to hand.
With the cap firmly over the eraser, the pencil measures about 128.6mm (5 1/16 in) in length, and is very light in the hand. Unfortunately, despite wanting to love this pencil so very much, we just didn’t get along. The moment I took it in hand, it was too light, too slippery, too slim, too short (despite it being about as long as some of my favorite pens)… we just didn’t appeal to each other. However, it hasn’t left my wife’s desk since it got back to Canada, so somebody likes it after all.
And it’s easy to see why—it’s attractive, well-made, and I can see the appeal if it’s your taste; it’s just not quite mine. I didn’t even sketch anything with it when I was in the UK, and I haven’t had the chance since I’ve been back in Canada. Like I said, it hasn’t left somebody else’s desk (I’m fairly sure Lorraine doesn’t read my ramblings on here, so I think I’m safe).
This is a very pretty pencil. If you like your mechanical pencils slim, elegant, shiny (with that gold sheen that lets slippery fingers side along the barrel), then you would love the Scheaffer Grapes and Leaves. It’s not even very expensive as far as I can tell. I found one that seems just like mine (though possibly not in as good a condition), at Peyton Street Pens for about $25.00 US (about $31.25 CAD at the time of writing).
I’m just glad that somebody is enjoying this one, it deserves to be enjoyed and used.