Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Tripp-Barr Mistique

I don't understand a lot of things about the Tripp-Barr pencils.  I've got a couple examples, which are pictured on page 158 of The Catalogue:


The clear section in the middle reveals spare leads, but I don't know how to get at them.  I have no idea where the patents are for these, and every time I do a google search to find out more about them, the only result I find is my own Mechanical Pencil Museum, in which I present them and say I don't know much about them.

Even more frustrating is that every time one comes along in an online auction, I bid heavier than I know I should (I've listed them at $10 to $15 in The Catalogue, but I've been bidding more than double that) hoping to find one with an imprint or something more to go on, and I keep getting outbid!  This isn't a fluke -- three times I've lost out on these now!

Times like these I'm glad that I don't mind rolling the dice every once in a while on what appears to be a box of junk in an online auction.  One recent lot arrived, and here's one of the things that was in there:


Even from this picture, it looks like a common Scripto or Wearever or something.  But imagine my surprise when I looked a little bit closer:


Here's a Tripp-Barr with more than just a little window to see the spare leads - the entire barrel is transparent: 


These have a lot more metal inside them than do most pencils, so the Tripp Barr is a heavy, substantial piece.  At the top is an interesting cap:


Even though the barrel is completely transparent, I'm still not able to figure out how to get to the spare leads!

In conclusion, I have few things to say to whoever it is that keeps scooping these things up at online auctions:

1.  How do these work?

2.  Where are the patents for these and who made them?

3.  Why do you think they are worth so much?

and most importantly . . .

4.  Haha!  Gotcha this time!  

Just kidding on that last one . . . seriously, get in touch with me and clue me in.

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