Monday, October 15, 2012

When "20th Century" Was Forward Thinking

Here’s another in the parade of items that Tanya Hile listed:


The wood barrel has a spiral cut into the outside, and the metal sleeve that travels up and down the outside of the barrel, in between the two tabs that stick out of the slot pushes the lead forward or pull it back:


At the tip of the pencil, a piece of wood has been glued in to act as a stop for the slider:


And at the top end of the pencil, it is identified as "W.P. Wallace’s 20th Century":


But thanks to Jim Marshall, I know this one’s a lot older than 1900. Jim, along with Sue Cortier and Jane Marshall, wrote a series of short books on a variety of subjects, one of which is "Collectible Pencils." The book contains a wealth of information on early British pencils. He refers to these as Thomas Lund "spiral pencils," and cites to a patent date of 1856. There are several of these illustrated in his book, all but one of which are well made, finely turned pieces with finished nozzles. However, one example illustrated on page 59 is identical to this one, but without any lettering.

Since this one lacks the finishing details found on the mid-nineteenth century examples shown in Marshall’s book, I’m thinking this one is a bit later than the 1850s. I don’t know who W.P. Wallace was, and I’m not even sure whether this piece is American, English or even something else (the collection Tanya Hiles is auctioning includes pencils from all the world). I only know one thing . . .

this one is really cool!