Pen Profiles and Essays


Wahl-Eversharp: Flamingo


Wahl-Eversharp introduced its Gold Seal Personal Point pens in 1929, both as "flat-top" and Equi-Poised (streamlined).  Wahl continued to advertise the flat-tops the following year.  The streamlined Equi-Poised saw frantic evolution-- driven at first by legal threat from Sheaffer-- and ran through at least 1932, when Wahl introduced a final cluster of slender non-Gold Seal Equi-Poiseds. For both the Gold-Seal flat-tops and the non Gold Seal slender Equi-Poiseds, the most storied color for today's Wahl collectors is Flamingo

Flamingo was known to collectors as Oxblood back before a 1932 Wahl catalogue turned up offering the proper Wahl name for this color; the catalogue showed a few models in that color, all  Equi-Poiseds, all slender, all non Gold Seal.

Flamingo Equi-Poiseds are relatively scarce and certainly are desirable.  But the color also turns up, off-catalogue, amongst the Gold Seal flat-tops. Those Flamingos are just ridiculous, with fairly few found  the past twenty years.
Personal Context

It was 2002. I'd been collecting about four years and already had some quite nice Wahls,  but  I hardly was well studied in that brand. That November for the first time I brought my camera and lighting setup to a pen show, Ohio, to shoot catalogue-style photos of other collectors' hoards. Had a great time.  Collector Lynn Brandt, once the host of, let me shoot his few Wahls done in a lovely color,  an opaque fuchsia with blue-black veins/mottling. 

Lynn explained that this color-- Oxblood-- was quite scarce. VIa subsequent online discussion I learned Flamingo was Wahl's name for it.  It was a year or two later, probably at the pen show in Los Angeles, when I bought my first Flamingo, a long-slender non-Gold Seal Equi-Poised, that one from collector
Lexx Villaines.   The color on that Flamingo wa a bit subdued, but it was still a quite nice example.

Somewhere along the way, over the years, perhaps by accident... Flamingo became a focus for my collecting.  I'll save  for another essay (here) the story of how in 2010 I found and bought the King of the Flamingos.


The 1932 Wahl catalogue offered  4 Flamingo models, all part of the slender non-Gold Seal Equi-Poised family, what we tend to call Type IV Equi-Poised

Flamingo slender Equi-Poised
Long, with ball-clip
Medium, with clasp (short clip)
Medium, as ring-top
Short (Purse Pen) with clasp (short clip)

Off catalogue-- and far more rare-- are the  flat-top Gold Seal Flamingos, part of the family of pens that in other colors were catalogued/advertised 1929-1930.

Flamingo Gold Seal flat-top
Decoband (oversized)
Long-standard, with side roller-clip
Short-standard (stubby), with soldier roller-clip
Short-standard (stubby), as ring-top

With matching pencils, the two groups above allow for sixteen (eight each pens and pencils)  variants to be hunted.  But, other quirky Flamingos have turned up.

A few years ago I found a Gold Seal Flamingo desk pen. I've seen a couple of the  slender medium-length Wahl-Oxfords that essentially were discounted (lower tier) tweaks on the catalogued Equi-Poised version. Perhaps matching pencils were made as well for those two pens. Most Wahl-Oxfords done in the slender Equi-Poised style offered long and medium versions. Thus, it is at least possible that long Wahl-Oxford pen and pencils also  were made in Flamingo, though I've never seen any.

I also found a mutant/anomaly, a slender Equi-Poised ringtop (medium length of course) with Gold Seal.

Flamingo "other"
Desk Pen
Wahl-Oxford medium-slender pen
Mutant  Gold Seal Equi-Poised (slender)
More... ???

Sooo... counting the known desk pen and medium-length Wahl-Oxford (discount version) at least eighteen pens/pencil variants are out there. My mutant Gold Seal slender Equi-Poised pen bumps that to nineteen. The likely matching pencils (I've not found any yet) for the desk pen and the Wahl-Oxford would bump that to 21.  If Wahl-Oxford was offered in Flamingo as the long-slender pen and pencil as well (possible, but not proven), the final count could go as high as 23. I suppose other anomalous variants and desk pens in different style could turn up, but in that path lies madness.

So 19-23 pen/pencil variants.  Not so many. Here's a tray full...


19-23  pens and pencils might seeem approachable. But, the pens range from  scarce to nigh-impossible to find. The catalogued Equi-Poised models are easiest to find. Too, in recent years (2017-2018) a couple personal collections have come on the market, making the Flamingo hunt  easier than it had been the past couple decades, but showing how scarce the pens are at baseline. Too, this window is closing.

The flat-tops live at the top of food chain in Wahldom. Their desirability and scarcity combine to make them amongst the priciest Wahls, the oversized pen in particular  trumping solid-gold pens, beating even anomalies and off-catalogue items perhaps more rare, such as the Lazulitic Blue Equi-Poised. Many consider the Flamingo  Decoband (oversized flat-top Gold Seal) to be not just King of the Flamingos but indeed  King of all Wahls. I'd be curious to hear readers' thoughts about competitiors for that title.

 But, it doesn't look like the bird!

Over years it has been noted that Wahl's Flamingo really does not share color with the well known bird.  It's true.  So what was Wahl thinking?  The color it seems was not named for the bird. No. The color much better matches-- as was first suggested by David Nishimura in a Flamingo discussion at Fountain Pen Board-- the... Flamingo flower.  

Yes, we have no Flamingos

Most collectors have no Flamingos. Those with one or some usually have the catalogued Equi-Poised models. Of course there are quiet collectors out there, their collections unknown to others.  I can't comment there. But, amongst those  who play online, in print, and at pen shows, I know of just five of us who have each owned perhaps ten or more Equi-Poised variants. I think Lynn, who introduced me to the pens, had about five pens. Syd, Cliff, Luiz, Allan and Yours Truly have approached or broached the big ten mark. I think I have eleven pens/pencils at this point. Won't be easy to grow that group. That we can count on one hand the number of collectors who have managed significant focused collections of Flamingos is telling.

But, the pens do happen. Finding them requires some effort, a bit of luck, and often some cash.  I'll offer below my stab at an art shot of this cluster, done as  trial shot for a full-bleed page for my Pen World article about the Flamingo Wahls, this pic ultimately not used. It shows ten of the eleven Flamingos in my collection as of 2016.

Wrapping it up

The usual grading concerns are in play for 1920s-1930s Celluoid. Check for cracks in cap lip, by lever slot and at clip insertion. I've seen a few of these a bit faded, the fuchsia subdued. That impacts value. I've handled couple flat-tops with cap/barrel thread issues. The flat-tops will be signfiicantly pricier than the slender Equi-Poised Flamingos.  I still seek the two flat-top pens not shown in the big photo, above: the long-standard flat-top and the short-standard flat top with clip. And a bunch of the pencils to match the pens in the photo. If you have spares, please contact me. Click on the link below to read the tale of how I scored the King of the Flamingos for my collection.

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