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Exotic Undocumented Sheaffer Thin Model Touchdown. Photos


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#1 david i

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 06:24 AM

It is my pleasure to offer images of a 1951 Sheaffer Thin Model Touchdown pen that appears to violate expectations based on this series' catalogue appearance. Words such as "prototype", "experimental", "transitional", and "rare" are inflammatory in the circle of serious pen collectors, seeming bandied about with casual abandon in discussion and in particular in sales offerings. A running joke is that any pen unfamiliar due to one's own ignorance gains lofty cachet when those magic terns are ascribed.

So, when examining a seemingly anomalous pen, one should consider whether he who cites it has enough familiarity to know that something truly is awry.

We'll have to see if I do.

I never set out to collect Sheaffer's Snorkel, and by default the related TM TD. Happened by accident. I found a few big collections. I started selling the pens. Wrote a profile. Found some good literature. One thing led to another. I sweeaaar.... it was all an accident.

So, let's explore Thin Model Touchdown and Snorkel just a bit, then consider a special pen just found.

Sheaffer introduced Touchdown in 1949, replacing similar looking pens that used the earlier plunger mechanism that had been found in Sheaffer pens since 1934 or so. The TD (touchdown) pens were chunky things manufactured for just two years or so before giving way in 1951 to Thin Model Touchdown (TM TD), which lasted just about a year before being replaced in 1952 by Sheaffer's vaunted Snorkel, which ran through the end of the 1950's and which is widely collected today.

TM TD (Thin Model Touchdown) very much resembles Snorkel, which replaced it. But, there are differences.

Similarities
  • Both have similar contour.
  • Both feature plastic and metal cap options
  • Both show a metal Touchdown tube when the blind cap is drawn from the barrel
  • Both feature a smooth clip for White Dot models and clip marked "Sheaffer's" for non-White-Dot pens.

Differences
  • Color range varies for the two lines
  • Characteristics of White Dot (high line) pens are not the same for both series, regarding nibs associated with white-dot and non-white-dot models.
  • TM TD is a bit shorter in barrel than Snorkel
  • Plastic caps for TM TD has a flush white dot, while Snorkel's dot is raised.
  • Gripping section for TM TD is visualated, while Snorkel's is opaque

TM TD in Green

Posted Image

Snorkel in Sage Green

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1952-9 Snorkel is catalogued with a metal cap-- Non White Dot-- that does not appear in the 1951 TM TD catalogue. The Snorkel Sovereign has white metal cap

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A couple most unusual 1951 TM TD's have turned up with a somewhat similar cap-- again not shown in that 1951 catalogue-- having similar pattern, but with the White Dot, and also with the smooth clip that goes with white dot models.

I've seen occasional discussion about this odd TM TD. I vaguely recall one claim that the cap represented a late development in the very brief run of TM TD. I have not seen documentation to support this.

I was contacted by a pen friend from overseas when such a pen popped up on ebay. WIth the sale offered only to USA-based customers, he asked if I'd bid for him. As I had not yet seen the pen and had not set my own pen I agreed. Won the pen quite cheaply.

The TM TD pen with cap not shown in the 1951 catalogue... arrived today. It has an added surprise.


Not only does the green TM TD have the white-dot cap similar to Snorkel's non-White-Dot cap (as seen in blue pen above, but note the white dot and clip difference), but the green is not "Green" !

This pen is Pastel Green, the green seen in Snorkel, not TM TD.

Snorkel offered Pastel Green, Sage Green and Fern, unlike TM TD which is shown in a rich dark green (named... Green) that was carried over from regular (non-Thin) Touchdown.

This is the first TM TD I've seen done in the Snorkel Pastel Green color.

A very serious pen.

Transitional?

You make the call

Image 1: Pastel Green TM TD (correct in barrel length and visualated section lacking Snork tube). Shown open and closed.

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Image 2: Two TM TD pens, showing the anomalous pen with white-dot version of Snorkel's non-white-dot cap and with Snorkel Pastel Green color, next to a typical TM TD in TM TD's green color.

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Thoughts?


regards

David

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#2 FmrLEO_GJ

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:23 AM

Nice article, and pen David... that is becoming 'prima facie' when responding to most of your postings ;)

What I got out of this is the reference to a colour... which ironically is my sister's given name: Fern.
Hmmm. Maybe I should try and find a pen in this colour for her for her ongoing support and encouragement throughout my life.
Of course, I will need to come into some money in the interim to realise this.

Off to bed now here DownUnder.
Garth
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#3 Roger W.

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 05:43 PM

It has been pointed out that these are not that much of a mystery. Maybe David, you could familiarize yourself with the writings of Jim Mamoulides -

http://www.penhero.c...HandNov2005.htm




Roger W.



#4 david i

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 05:55 PM

It has been pointed out that these are not that much of a mystery. Maybe David, you could familiarize yourself with the writings of Jim Mamoulides -

http://www.penhero.c...HandNov2005.htm

Roger W.




Sure sure, and every time I see post about a Vacumatic about which I've posted 50 times, I shouldn't answer other than to say, "see my old posts" ;)

I've seen the cap before, but not the Pastel Green barrel. I also did not see that when perusing Jim's musings on this pen.

You have a Pastel Green of this sort?

It is charming that Jim and I use parallel speculation to explain the pen.

I notice, too, that Jim does not cite documentation from Sheaffer for the pen, which does not surprise. I would note that for me "transitional" and "production model" are not mutually exclusive.

Probably overdue to do a TM TD profile to go with The Snork Guide.

regards

David
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#5 JonSzanto

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:23 PM

Crap. Now I want a Persian Blue snorkel.

#6 Roger W.

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:18 AM

Crap. Now I want a Persian Blue snorkel.


I agree - a Persian Blue snorkel would have been cool. Or maybe a rose glow snorkel...

Roger W.

#7 david i

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:23 AM

Crap. Now I want a Persian Blue snorkel.


Hi Jon,

Agreed, but keep in mind, we don't know that early TD TM color specific to that series were used for later uncatalogued Snorks. We're playing the opposite here, finding Snorkel colors in TM TD. Giving me headache too ;)

d
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#8 JonSzanto

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:04 AM

Ha! Hope I didn't add to your headache! TBH - coming more from the user/appreciator side than the collector side, I am nonplussed in a historic sense: I look at the gorgeous pens from the 30s and 40s, with all the incredible variations in celluloid (and other materials) combinations, and then we get into the early modernist/Mad Men era... I have to say, all those pastel plastics in the Sheaffers and the 51s leave me distinctly meh.

But I'm derailing now. Take two aspirin and PM me in the a.m. ;)

#9 JonSzanto

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:05 AM

I agree - a Persian Blue snorkel would have been cool. Or maybe a rose glow snorkel...

Roger W.

Ding! I agree.

#10 Hugh

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:30 AM

Well, as a person with an interest in TD TM's ...and being "that overseas friend" ...I'll throw my "two bobs" in. Thanks DavidPosted Image , great photos!! Nice to see this pen getting the attention I think it deserves, also noting in far better condition than I had thought and at a price that even "bargain" doesn't seem to sit comfortably with.

It is as David says uncatalogued and this colour undocumented, the model as such has been documented in pastel blue ( both by Jim and here, several have passed through ebay in the last year) and grey ( here). The pastel green has not been documented to my knowledge although it has been "mentioned" which falls well short of providing definitive proof which this does. Since Jim wrote his article the knowledge of this model has advanced and mainly documented on this forum. While it's easy to make claims, there is little doubt this is rare pen and of some significance in TM TD terms ( on that I've seen more Crest masterpieces and Masterpieces than either grey or green Sovereigns..one of each colour) and I suspect in early "50s Sheaffer thinking.

Posted Image

This shows the grey version I own ( photo from the ebay seller). This also clearly tells us the price, previously unknown.

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Matt has shown that the ballpoint existed....if he ever wants to sell it I know someone who would be interested..Posted Image

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And this is the pastel blue set I own that shows another very interesting feature, the pencil is the thinner snorkel type ( the cap does have the white dot!!)

What we know about this model is it's the only white dot metal capped model with an open nib in either the TM TD or Snorkel line, it's the only TM TD in Snorkel colours (black, burgundy, pastel blue,pastel green and grey seen so far and that's probably it), it's the only TM TD model that has a slim pencil ...what we don't know is why and when it was actually sold.

Entering the realms of speculation, the thinking on Penhero is that this is a pre snorkel model. Frankly the facts just don't fit, what the fact indicate is this was a model ran at the start of the Snorkel era , facts being colour , thin pencil and cap. We can only guess why this model came about, mine is that Sheaffer felt a demand for a white dot open nib pen but didn't want one in the Snorkel range where they could push a more expensive model ...hence a "re-vamped" TM TD Sovereign priced lower than the non white dot Snorkel equivalent ($10 compared to $12.50). This is probably why it was a very short lived model, customers where paying more for a similiar looking pen without the white dot that a simple cap change would fix as this cap turns up on Snorkels with some frequency( that's not to say it didn't come on some Snorkels of course..making them uncatalogued!!.), a simple point of sale adjustment that ended the model quickly (???). So to me a 1952 model, and if I'm right this is significant model (albeit short lived) in Sheaffer thinking.

A serious pen? Yes A historically significant model? maybe, I lean to yes A valuable pen? No...not on the market prices seen on ebay Still highly collectible to some!!!

Regards
Hugh

Edited by Hugh, 12 December 2011 - 10:36 AM.

Hugh Cordingley

#11 david i

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:55 PM

SNIP

It is as David says uncatalogued and this colour undocumented, the model as such has been documented in pastel blue ( both by Jim and here, several have passed through ebay in the last year) and grey ( here). The pastel green has not been documented to my knowledge although it has been "mentioned" which falls well short of providing definitive proof which this does.

SNIP

Regards
Hugh




Thus we see the ambiguity of the English language. I would consider the Pastel Blue and Pastel Green... undocumented... in the context of company information.

Jim has recorded/recognized the existence of a Pastel Blue pen. But there has been no Sheaffer material found for these colors, at least nothing anyone publicly admits. The pens are not in catalogues and not (so far) in any other paperwork by Sheaffer. Uncatalogued and undocumented, though arguments can be made that "uncatalogued" can be used in a slightly broadened sense to include any company paperwork (eg. if a pen appeared in an advert, it could be considered catalogued, even though the appearance is not in... a catalogue).

Barring new spin or clarification on jargon, I'd prefer to consider a pen not found in any company literature to be undocumented, even if the actual pen has been seen and recorded (which is, yes, in a global sense, documentation of existence of the pen).

That said, if there is any Sheaffer documentation for such a beast, I'd like to know about it.

Too, I have not seen an actual Pastel Green TM TD before and did not see it in Jim's profile. Hugh, do you know of anyone who has cited ownership or observation of a Pastel Green TM TD?

regards

d
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#12 david i

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 02:21 PM

Entering the realms of speculation, the thinking on Penhero is that this is a pre snorkel model. Frankly the facts just don't fit, what the fact indicate is this was a model ran at the start of the Snorkel era , facts being colour , thin pencil and cap. We can only guess why this model came about, mine is that Sheaffer felt a demand for a white dot open nib pen but didn't want one in the Snorkel range where they could push a more expensive model ...hence a "re-vamped" TM TD Sovereign priced lower than the non white dot Snorkel equivalent ($10 compared to $12.50). This is probably why it was a very short lived model, customers where paying more for a similiar looking pen without the white dot that a simple cap change would fix as this cap turns up on Snorkels with some frequency( that's not to say it didn't come on some Snorkels of course..making them uncatalogued!!.), a simple point of sale adjustment that ended the model quickly (???). So to me a 1952 model, and if I'm right this is significant model (albeit short lived) in Sheaffer thinking.

A serious pen? Yes A historically significant model? maybe, I lean to yes A valuable pen? No...not on the market prices seen on ebay Still highly collectible to some!!!

Regards
Hugh


Speculation and hypothesis are part of the fun of our hobby, and certainly they lay the groundwork for potential research that occasionally even yields... conclusion.

Not often enough though ;)

Given that TM TD appears to have been catalogued only in 1951 and given that Snorkel appeared in 1952, certainly it is reasonable hypothesis that as Sheaffer's feature set evolved into what would be routine for Snorkel, TM TD might share some of those evolving features... particularly colors. Not so sure that alone explains the cap. So, I share the notion that the pens we discuss could have been late TM TD, though "late" it should be noted is still in the context of a very short run model.

Another thing to consider is whether TM TD really was discontinued upon the release of Snorkel. Adverts and catalogues seem not to mention it after Snork appears, but then, catalogues don't mention flat-top Sheaffer after 1930, though today there is belief, based largely on observation, that the flat-end pens continued another decade.

regards

d
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#13 matt

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:30 PM

Are the "cataloged" colors of the TM Touchdown just the 5 shown in the 1951 catalog (billspens.com) - black, burgundy, burnt umber brown, evergreen green, and persian blue (I'm not sure the '51 catalog shows burnt umber, but it's inlcuded in Richard Binder's Profile)? And the excitement here is finding TM Touchdowns in Snorkel colors? Are other Touchdown models known in Snorkel colors or just the WD Sovereign?

My matching ball point above should offer a clue as to the timeframe of the Touchdown metal-cap Sovereign.

From the '51, '53, and '55 catalogs at billspens.com:
1. BP's shown alongside Touchdown pens in the 1951 catalog are non-retractable screwcap Stratowriters.
2. The 1953 catalog shows nonretractable slip cap BP's with hourglass-shaped sections alongside each Snorkel model, except the Masterpiece. The BP desk pen has an hourglass-shape section. Retractable Sheaffer and Fineline BP's are shown on separate pages.
3. BP's are no longer shown alongside the Snorkels in the 1955 catalog. Two different retractable models are shown on a separate page; a second page shows the Fineline BP. The desk BP has lost its youthful figure.
4. What type of BP is shown in the '52 and '54 catalogs?

I don't collect Touchdowns, but I always enjoy collecting data.



#14 david i

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:40 PM

Are the "cataloged" colors of the TM Touchdown just the 5 shown in the 1951 catalog (billspens.com) - black, burgundy, burnt umber brown, evergreen green, and persian blue (I'm not sure the '51 catalog shows burnt umber, but it's inlcuded in Richard Binder's Profile)? And the excitement here is finding TM Touchdowns in Snorkel colors? Are other Touchdown models known in Snorkel colors or just the WD Sovereign?




Hi Matt,


That is my current understanding

The WD Sovereign type pen is the focus of the start of this thread. As noted, both the cap and color are in play for anomaly. As I now am aware of only a handful of TD TM's in Snork colors-- and that developed in the context of this thread-- I've not seen TM TD in Snork colors in other models. It would not surprise me if they are out there. However, if not... that might increase the historical/contextual significance of the cap itself.



My matching ball point above should offer a clue as to the timeframe of the Touchdown metal-cap Sovereign.

From the '51, '53, and '55 catalogs at billspens.com:
1. BP's shown alongside Touchdown pens in the 1951 catalog are non-retractable screwcap Stratowriters.
2. The 1953 catalog shows nonretractable slip cap BP's with hourglass-shaped sections alongside each Snorkel model, except the Masterpiece. The BP desk pen has an hourglass-shape section. Retractable Sheaffer and Fineline BP's are shown on separate pages.
3. BP's are no longer shown alongside the Snorkels in the 1955 catalog. Two different retractable models are shown on a separate page; a second page shows the Fineline BP. The desk BP has lost its youthful figure.
4. What type of BP is shown in the '52 and '54 catalogs?

I don't collect Touchdowns, but I always enjoy collecting data.


I'll need to absorb that for a bit, as I don't follow the BP's. I have an original Snorkel catalogue somewhere around here, but not sure if '52 or '53

regards

d
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Email: isaacson@frontiernet.net

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#15 Hugh

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 08:53 PM

Thus we see the ambiguity of the English language. I would consider the Pastel Blue and Pastel Green... undocumented... in the context of company information.

Jim has recorded/recognized the existence of a Pastel Blue pen. But there has been no Sheaffer material found for these colors, at least nothing anyone publicly admits. The pens are not in catalogues and not (so far) in any other paperwork by Sheaffer. Uncatalogued and undocumented, though arguments can be made that "uncatalogued" can be used in a slightly broadened sense to include any company paperwork (eg. if a pen appeared in an advert, it could be considered catalogued, even though the appearance is not in... a catalogue).

Barring new spin or clarification on jargon, I'd prefer to consider a pen not found in any company literature to be undocumented, even if the actual pen has been seen and recorded (which is, yes, in a global sense, documentation of existence of the pen).

That said, if there is any Sheaffer documentation for such a beast, I'd like to know about it.

Too, I have not seen an actual Pastel Green TM TD before and did not see it in Jim's profile. Hugh, do you know of anyone who has cited ownership or observation of a Pastel Green TM TD?

regards

d


Hi David,

I'm happy to go by your definition of "documented", in that context I should have said "have been seen" !! I seem to recall in one of the Penhero articles ( or maybe on the FPN) Jim mentioned the pastel green as having been seen but not by him personally nor was a photo provided, to me such second hand info is indicative but not conclusive....where as your position is . To me this is the only one I've seen, another green was on the 'bay a while back ( somewhat worse for wear) but after questions and extra photos I concluded the pen to be a standard TM TD green Sovereign with this cap ( there being nothing to say this isn't correct either) . I must admit I had doubts about this model in anything but pastel blue actually existing until the grey turned up, I then "knew" the pastel green had to be "out there"....and for once I was right !! As I'm in Australia it's easy to get a false impression of how common/uncommon some models are having to base this on ebay offering but in this case the fact no posters here (or on the FPN iirc) have previously encountered all these uncatalogued colours is significant given ( in your case anyway) the number of pens that are seen .

Regards
Hugh
Hugh Cordingley

#16 BrianMcQueen

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:50 PM

I just wanted to pipe in and let you guys know that this is a really interesting and informative conversation!

:)

#17 Teej47

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:06 PM

Well, you know what I think...

Must be Canadian!

Tim
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#18 Hugh

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:59 AM

Are the "cataloged" colors of the TM Touchdown just the 5 shown in the 1951 catalog (billspens.com) - black, burgundy, burnt umber brown, evergreen green, and persian blue (I'm not sure the '51 catalog shows burnt umber, but it's inlcuded in Richard Binder's Profile)? And the excitement here is finding TM Touchdowns in Snorkel colors? Are other Touchdown models known in Snorkel colors or just the WD Sovereign?

My matching ball point above should offer a clue as to the timeframe of the Touchdown metal-cap Sovereign.

From the '51, '53, and '55 catalogs at billspens.com:
1. BP's shown alongside Touchdown pens in the 1951 catalog are non-retractable screwcap Stratowriters.
2. The 1953 catalog shows nonretractable slip cap BP's with hourglass-shaped sections alongside each Snorkel model, except the Masterpiece. The BP desk pen has an hourglass-shape section. Retractable Sheaffer and Fineline BP's are shown on separate pages.
3. BP's are no longer shown alongside the Snorkels in the 1955 catalog. Two different retractable models are shown on a separate page; a second page shows the Fineline BP. The desk BP has lost its youthful figure.
4. What type of BP is shown in the '52 and '54 catalogs?

I don't collect Touchdowns, but I always enjoy collecting data.



HI Matt,

As far as I'm aware the 5 colours you list are the only ones found with the exception of these Sovereigns and I've not seen these snorkel colours on any other models. The one ballpoint I own ( a burgundy signature) has the same section as yours, given these crossed over to the snork it could be a later BP, while the signature matches the FP it still leaves that open. Interesting observation.

While we're on colours, I find it unusual these Sovereigns don't turn up with the standard colours and likewise these snork colours in other models given the ease of cap swap/barrel swaps.

Regards
Hugh



Hugh Cordingley

#19 david i

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 04:55 AM

OK then.

So what the hell just turned up on ebay?

I do know that caps physically can swap amongst Thin Model Touchdown and Snorkel.

We've established-- or at least for the moment accepted-- that Sheaffer's 1951 TM TD crops up in some otherwise Snorkel-only colors and in colors shared with Snorkel with a cap that was catalogued for neither, one with polished steel (no gold tone band) with white dot, the white dot not found on a catalogued similar lined steel cap known from Snorkel, proper.

So we find this TD TM in colors known from Snork and not known from TM TD's catalogue-- pastel green, pastel blue, and gray. Also it is found Black and Burgundy, colors from TM TD that also were used with Snork.

I bid on a set believing it to be one of these TM TD's with uncatalogued Snorkel-esque cap. Mint, stickered, tagged. The works.

Except, the pen is a Snorkel.

Yeah, barrels can swap. But, mint in box. Instruction sheet 10-52 describes pen as "Thin Model with Snorkel" (is that typical instruction sheet?)

Posted Image



regards

david
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Email: isaacson@frontiernet.net

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#20 Hugh

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:56 AM

Hi David,

I went to bed quietly confident that upon awakening I'd own this set....apparently coming "second" rules that out!! Clearly the pen was a snorkel ( I thought that , can't remember the actual listing so maybe it wasn't) , my interest was in the cap and a subsequent set the same buyer offered which I also now don't own either...and yes I was going to swap things around.There are several pointers to a cap swap in this case, firstly from the "grey" above the price should be $10 as opposed to the $12.50 seen in the Snork line and second the pencil lacks the "white dot" that I have seen in what in what I think is the "correct" set. I have a mint TM TD with a non white dot Snork cap and the same swing tag, third from right noting a different "burgundy" colour (?) as well as a slightly longer barrel !! . While not clear the blue pencil carries the "white dot".

Posted Image

What is "correct" and what's not I think is a "blurred" area, suffice to say I've seen a number of these white dot caps on Sovereign snorkels turn up on ebay over the past couple of years and in sets with a non white dot pencil (iirc) . Likewise the reverse is also seen, although not in sets!! Did this set come from the factory like this? Did the dealer swap caps? I don't know but if I had to go either way I'd lean to a cap swap as I've speculated this TM TD line was sold along side the early Snorkel line. I don't rule out it being correct though, but do feel TM TD Sovereigns with non white dot metal caps aren't "factory" correct. Now does this Snorkel by chance carry the tell tale signs of early production like a gold tube or shorter section?

Regards
Hugh
Hugh Cordingley




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