This question has come up on ORCA before. Even if you could have a specific colour for a specific year that would only indicate the year of the handle which could have been fitted to any year reel at some time after it left the Penn factory. I have also read what you said about ebay sales of Penn reels.
Some of the earliest torpedos on small 1939 reels don't have an oiler.Some '39-'48 Torpedos are two tone in colour. Some colours can help but it is not absolute.
Rosewood log and torpedo handles on some Senators around '39. Strong bright red knobs mostly on some Senators from around '49 and on.
On small reels the earliest kobs were the hour glass or pear shape in wood. Then same shape in catalin ( like plastic) then the torepedo shape with pointy ends .Then torpedos with rounded ends.
Counterweight style and part numbers can determine eras too as well as which model reel you are looking at.
Is there a specific era of the man on the beach penn boxes or did they overlap for a while with the next box?
Mike might step in with more accurate info on this .
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You are doing a great job explaining all this Penn trickery.
Identifying exact year of any Penn reel or box is a exercise of computations. The way the Model name is slanted on the label represents pre 1950 models in black boxes. That will only give you a era for a box, not a year. Sometimes, seeing the retail price on the box, combined with the label printing style can bring you closer to a exact year. The box label may also state types of features or line capacities, that can also be added to a formula of figuring out a exact year.
I do not think that handle color ever gives anyone a exact year. Handle color and style can suggest a particular time in history but never pin point a year unless you are referring to a rare handle type like a 1936 / 37 Senator 9/O and that handle would have to be mounted to a first generation Senator 115 to give a complete story.
The stuff we see on EBay about the history of anything I generally see as, "Hearsay". Sellers will make up some very creative stories about what makes what they are selling what it actually is. When in truth, they do not have the slightest idea what they are talking about but they really like talking about it anyways.
The neat thing about early Penn collecting are all the questions that come up. Every time you think you have it all figured out, you discover you were wrong...