Ghost Rider: The Clip

The sinister but helpful skull clip.

The sinister but helpful skull clip.

If you want to seem worthwhile being associated with a precious metal never hurts. When you have a golden moment or see the silver lining that’s good. Fool’s gold and golden oldies I’m going to pretend don’t exist for the purpose of this example. So it’s no wonder that it can take only a tenuous link to get something slapped with a mostly incorrect moniker. A cherry bomb isn’t going to taste like it just fell from the tree and a moon pie isn’t going to shine over Miami. So is the case of German Silver, a metal that has nothing much to do with silver and only a little with Germany.

Initially developed in the Far East during the early 18th century what is also called Nickel Silver is usually an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc. By the time a few German factories developed large scale production techniques many metal items began to be cast in the alloy such as cutlery, musical instruments, jewelry, and watch cases. Silvery trade names abounded for it including Silverine, Silverode, Silveroid, and Silverite in order to give consumers a feeling of value. Odder names such as Brazilian Silver, Afghan Silver, Potosi Silver, and Venetian Silver provided the feeling of exotic locales where they apparently smelted metal as well as doing vaguely romantic foreign things. The commercial names never do really stop for this substance as shown by the ones that begin with the letter A: Albata, Argentan, Alpakka, Alpaka, Argentum, Argentium, etc.

Early in the 20th century many fountain pens did not have integrated pocket clips and systems of metal pockets (such as Swan made) or friction fit clips became an accessory item. Even then no one wanted an ink filled pen loose in a shirt pocket! The clips came in many varied shapes and materials (often German Silver) to the point that a hobby could be made out of just collecting examples. Eventually writing instrument manufacturers got the idea that putting a permanent clip on the majority of their pens was a good idea and fewer and fewer third party clips were made.

I didn’t see this clip first at an online auction site; it had to be pointed out to me. Once I did see it I knew I had to have it. I’m not sure who the intended market was for this design (Pirates? Evil geniuses? Sorcerers?) but it certainly stands out. Its current home is a Wahl Tempoint eye-dropper filled pen that was bereft of a clip. It’s now the writing instrument of choice for those days when you feel like wearing black and scowling a great deal. Maybe a walking stick with a silver skull handle would be a nice accessory? Of course like the clip the handle would have to be made out of German Silver.

Wahl Tempoint now clip equipped. Scary!

Wahl Tempoint now clip equipped. Scary!

  1. Kim
    February 20, 2009, 10:44 am

    Wow. That is fantastic. And I learned so much from your post!

  2. February 21, 2009, 12:32 pm

    It looks like something House, MD, would use, along with his skull cane from Season 3. 🙂 Were there “girly” clips – butterflies, flowers..?

  3. TAO
    February 21, 2009, 12:49 pm

    Jenny, there were clips that were less freaky. The person I got this off of had one with a woman’s profile on it. I read that these aftermarket clips were popular in France longer than other places. There are new ones still being made: