Way back on February 14, I wrote an article on Eagle Drop pencils. A few weeks ago, I was rereading that article to see if I put the phrase "Drop pencil" in quotes – I’d always heard them called that, and the name fits perfectly for what they do, but the only words on the examples I’d found were "Eagle Pencil Co." and the patent dates.
I try to be careful when I don’t have any evidence that a title for a pencil is the formal name given to it by its manufacturer, because otherwise it’s simply a descriptive collector’s nickname that we use today as a matter of convenience. I probably should apologize that I didn’t say "drop pencil" is a nickname.
But I can’t.
A while back, a seller in an online auction who didn’t appear to know beans about pencils included in his description of a fuzzy picture showing several pencils that one was an Eagle Drop pencil. Here it is:
This early hexagonal example is clearly identified by a remarkably well-preserved imprint as a number 3003 "Drop":
The patent dates are the earlier 1877 and 1883 patent dates, with no mention of Claes Boman’s 1884 improvements to the design, which suggests that the pencil dates to 1883 or early 1884:
I can’t really do a "see Iwas right happy dance" on this one – even though I was right, I had no idea that I was. I guess the moral here somewhere is that sometimes what we think is just collector lore has a lot more behind it.