Let's start our week off with a truly beautiful pen. This is Grayling Hill's Aurora Optima 365 Limited Edition Auroloide Piston Filler, the first edition of the 365 series. It's made of brown marble auroloide with black and iridescent flakes, and has an 18k gold nib. Each pen in the series is limited to 365 pieces.
Perhaps it's because they are becoming so rare, or because they're so well made. Maybe it's the touch of 'mystique' they have developed. Whatever the reason, LeBoeuf pens are certainly becoming more sought after by collectors.
Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, LeBoeuf entered the market in 1921 with a patented method it had developed for making pens from celluloid tubes rather than solid stock, thus cutting manufacturing costs. A metal sleeve was inserted to strengthen the barrel, leading them to call their early models the "Unbreakable."
According to Dr. Fernando Padilla, in a conversation at a recent Arkansas Pen Club meeting, LeBoeuf made a deal with DuPont for exclusive colors and patterns of celluloid stock not available to other pen makers, resulting in the unique designs that contribute to their attractiveness and desirability.
From introduction to around 1930, LeBoeufs were lever fillers, but around that year they introduced their first half sleeve filler, or thumb filler, model. These are easily identified by a noticeable seam in the middle of the barrel which, when pulled apart, reveals a cutout allowing the thumb to depress the sac directly, similar to that found later in the popular Parker 51. Later models moved the seam up to the section to become full sleeve fillers.
There persists a legend, undocumented as most good legends are, that prior to filing for bankruptcy in 1933, desperate for cash, the company owners had rented a vacant warehouse and placed a large "LeBoeuf Fountain Pen Company" sign on it to show potential investors, while the pens were actually being made in a much smaller facility, some say in a garage.
The LeBoeuf brand was resurrected in 1995 for a brief period, but their pens were not well received and the company was short lived.