Monday, June 11, 2012

Straight from the Horse's (Inventor's) Mouth

In The Catalogue, you won't find any listing under Nichols Products Company.  There's only a short article indexed under "Tri-point" and a discussion of two of the patents Edgar B. Nichols was awarded for his multi-color pencils, because at the time the book was published, I was unaware of any other models the company made.

Since then, I've had a good time learning about some of the other contraptions Edgar Nichols invented, and I've posted a few articles here about them.  Yep, I figured I had Nichols pretty well covered.

Until a couple weeks ago, when I received an email from Bill Adams in Colorado, who said he had purchased a slew of Nichols pencils recently from an estate.   Not just any estate, mind you:  the estate of one Edgar B. Nichols. 

The first picture he sent me was of a group of fifteen Tri-points, and though the picture wasn't the clearest, I could see some trully fascinating things in there.  So he told me what he wanted for them and I paid it.  Here's the group after they arrived:


On the left are the two most distinctive looking variations:


Both were in pretty rough shape, but with a little bit of gentle cleaning, I did get them looking quite a bit better:


No, they aren't completely cleaned up, but I didn't want to push too hard -- if these break, it's not like I'm going to be able to find parts!

Nichols' original patent for the Tri-point design was applied for on June 1, 1927, but patent number 1,730,679 wasn't issued until more than two years later, on October 8, 1929:

The picture shows a flattop, yet this is the patent number that is imprinted on bullet-shaped Tri-points.  At page 158 of The Catalogue, I comment that although Nichols' later patent isn't imprinted on any bullet-shaped Tri-points I'm aware of, this later patent -- number 2,451,111, issued on October 12, 1948, appears to be the design used on them:

Which had left me wondering -- where are the flattop Nichols Tri-points shown in his earlier patent?   Apparently, they were in Edgar Nichols' basement all along!


Neither one of these has any imprint or marking, but this is clearly Nichols' first design.  The buttons are simple, and on close inspection the grooves appear to have been cut by hand.  Note that the yellow example has a trim band just above the clip and a plain bell top, while the jade example has no trim ring and a more decorative top.  They both have the same clip:


Which bears an uncanny resemblance to a more well-known brand, the Moore:


The only difference between these two clips is the Nichols clip mounts on the sides, while the Moore Clip mounts at the top and bottom of the mounting area.  The similarity between these clips leaves me wondering:  was there any connection between Nichols and The Moore Pen Company, or did Nichols simply copy Moore's clip design?

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