Thursday, July 27, 2023

Vintage Eagle Turquoise and Eagle Berol Prismacolors

Vintage Eagle Turquoise "Chemi*Sealed" Prismacolors

A couple of weeks ago when I was writing my answers to 12 pencil questions, I mentioned that old Prismacolors are my favorite vintage colored pencils to both use and to collect. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I hadn’t yet blogged about the more “collectible” sets I’ve acquired since I first wrote about vintage Prismacolors in 2018 (reading that post first, by the way, would be a good introduction to this one). Back then, all I had were handfuls from purchased random lots and gifts from generous friends, but they were good for studying the various eras as signified by name and logo changes and, of course, for using.

Since then, I have acquired a “few” (ahem) sets of most eras – some beautifully complete for collecting and others incomplete or lightly used, which are a bargain and ideal for using. This post will show a couple of my complete sets from the Eagle Turquoise and Eagle Berol eras.

(Advice to buyers: One of these days, I’ll get around to blogging about my Sanford Prismacolor sets. In the meantime, I’ll just make a couple of comments here related to collecting vs. using: If you want to collect old Prismacolors, by all means, go for the older Eagle-branded ones, which seem to be getting scarcer and pricier by the minute [and are oh-so-pretty]. If, on the other hand, you want US-made Prismacolors to use, my recommendation is to stick with the younger Sanford-branded ones. I’ve compared pencils from all eras, and the quality was still excellent through the Sanford era. If anything, Sanford Prismacolors are better than their older sisters if only because the earliest Eagles have deteriorated a bit due to age [though they are still in excellent condition, considering that some could be more than 50 years old].

The other reason to buy Sanfords to use is that reasonably priced sets are still available if you don’t mind lightly used pencils or sets missing a few. Used sets can be a great value. However, even in the five years that I’ve been paying attention, I’ve seen vintage Prismacolors going for ridiculous prices. A couple of years ago, I was able to get used Sanford sets for about the same price as contemporary Prismacolor Premier sets, but recently they are getting harder to find. Not that I’m looking for more. Really. I have enough! I do! Oh look, there’s a complete gold foil limited edition set! Where??)

(This blog post by no means intends to give a comprehensive history of Prismacolors. It’s just a show-off post plus bits of historical information I’ve collected over the years. I’ve referenced a couple of sources below.)

Shown first is my pride-and-joy set of Prismacolors – a complete, unused set of 48 Eagle Turquoise-branded pencils (top of post). While I’ve seen images of graphite pencils and Verithin colored pencils with older Eagle logos along with the use of “Turquoise” and the “Chemi*sealed” tagline, this is the oldest generation of Prismacolors I’ve ever seen for sale. If a set exists with the older logos, I sure would love to see photos of it!

According to the highly informative, well-researched blog, Pencil Fodder, the term “Chemi-Sealed” was patented in 1933 by the British pencil manufacturing company Eagle. (See that article for detailed information on what, exactly, “Chemi-Sealed” means.)

Outer box

Inner box. Look at that gorgeous eagle!

Although the outer box is discolored, and the inner box is a bit worn (which is probably why this set was affordable), the pencils are all unsharpened and in perfect condition.

I’m not sure which I love more, the pencils or the design! That eagle with a pencil in its talons – they just don’t make logos like that anymore, especially for a colored pencil!

Eagle Turquoise Prismacolors: my pride and joy!

Also shown on Pencil Fodder is a 1958 Eagle catalog that includes Verithin and Colourcraft colored pencils but not Prismacolor. The Prismacolor site’s historical timeline, however, states that Eagle launched Prismacolor in 1938.

Shown next is my set of 60 Eagle Prismacolors made by Berol. According to Prismacolor, Berol purchased the Eagle Pencil Company in 1969. My set says it was made in Danbury, Connecticut, where it was produced before 1987 (when Berol was acquired by Empire). The historical timeline says Newell purchased Prismacolor in 1995. (The name Sanford is indicated on my Sanford-branded sets as being “a Newell company.”) I don’t think I’ve seen Prismacolors with Empire branding, so I don’t know what happened between 1987 and 1995.

Eagle Berol Prismacolors outer box

Promotion on the inner flap: No space is wasted.

Inner box

Although the Eagle Turquoise box with the eagle holding a pencil is my favorite overall design, this stylized E logo and Art Deco typeface is my favorite Prismacolor pencil design.

One more note to collectors: If you are a “completist,” you’ll want to know that some Prismacolor colors have been discontinued through the years, and those individual colors can be hard to track down. If you find an old set that seems disproportionately expensive, perhaps they include some of those discontinued colors, and the seller would probably make that clear. Personally, I’m no longer hunting down discontinued colors like six of the metallics or Clear Lemon Yellow (971) or Clay Rose (1017) because, you know, life goes on. Not that that I’ve stopped looking, just in case.

Edited 8/5/23: A kind reader sent me a Clay Rose (1017)! Thank you so much!

With a slightly less elegant presentation than the previous sets, these are my "user" Prismacolors. The majority is a consolidation of as many colors as I could acquire from vintage sets and lots, and then I filled in missing colors with contemporary Prismacolor Premiers.

Multi-generational family


  1. Your collection never ceases to amaze me.

  2. The Eagle Turquoise Prismacolors are eye popping including the box.

    1. I know... they just don't design pencils and boxes like they used to! Sigh!

  3. I have a 1017 clay rose. If you want it I can mail it to you.

    1. Wow, that's so generous of you! Thank you! Please email me at: tina(dot)k(at)juno(dot)com

  4. I have the gold box set! Its my only full vintage set. Everything else is a big tub of mix and match vintage Prismas like yours. I'm amazed that there are other people besides the two of us collecting old colored pencils!

  5. A set with all the metallics and deco colors just sold on eBay.

    I have this set, though this one sold looks to be in a better condition... I need to figure out if I can restore the moisture back into the very brittle wood barrels in my set.

    1. I saw the auction you linked to and was tempted, but it was a bit too rich for me! Surprised to hear that your wood barrels have gotten so brittle. Mine all seem to be in great condition. Maybe it depends on how they were stored or the humidity of the location.


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