Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Swanky It Is!

Here’s one I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile, and one came my way through Frank Hoban and Michael Little in DC:


Now if you’re rolling your eyes, bear with me. Yeah, these tie-clip pencils epitomize the lounge lizards of the 1970s. I was given one as a birthday present when I was a kid, and even though I thought it was kind of neat, I could never bring myself to wear it in public, even with the clip-on ties I had to wear to church on Sundays.

But I wouldn’t bring these up if there weren’t a good story here.

This example is a little different in that it has a ruler on the side, and the measurements are also imprinted on the telescoping part:


On the top, there’s a faint imprint:


"Swank U.S. Pat. 124227." The number being as low as it is, I figured it must be a design patent, and when I hit the databases, there it was:


Lawrence E. Baer applied for Design Patent 124,227 on September 18, 1940, and it was granted only a couple months later, on Christmas Eve, 1940. No wonder all those cheesy examples from the 1970s are unmarked – the patent rights had long since expired!

Swank, Inc. is still around, as a division of Randa Accessories. According to the company’s website, it was founded in 1897, and the current catalog still shows a selection of tie clips, for those who still wear them.
The company still uses the same logo found on today’s pencil, although the combination tie clip and pencil seems to have gone the way of the dodo . . .

or should I say the lounge lizard?