The patent for the Snap-Fil was applied for by Martin Borbeck of Sioux City, Iowa on March 23, 1919, and was issued as number 1,342,736 June 8, 1920:
But here’s the really neat thing: Martin actually received two patents on June 8, 1920. Earlier that same day, he received Patent number 1,342,416: for a lever-operated pencil, which he’d applied for on July 28, 1919:
While the patent for the pen was issued to the "Houston Pen Company," Borbeck’s pencil patent was not assigned. The pen design was marketed under the tradename "Snap-Fil," but since the lever on the pencil just sort of scoots the lead forward bit by bit, the name didn’t make much sense – so the company marketed the only lever-filling pencil ever produced under the trade name "Kaligraf," as shown on this advertisement, sent to me by Joe Nemecek:
I don’t have a Kaligraf, but when Joe Nemecek spent a night here at pencil ranch on his way home from the Ohio Show, he brought with him the only example in his collection, a mottled hard rubber ringtop:
The imprint on Joe’s example is very faint, and took some real gymnastics to get the light at the right angle to show it in these photographs:
General Manufacturing Co.
Pat. Kaligraf June 8, 1920
Sioux City, Iowa
Note: after this article was first published, I heard from Dave Johannsen, who admitted to an affinity for Kaligraf pencils and, with a little prodding, agreed to send me a picture of the ones from his collection:
The levers are on the opposite side. That side clip example is just killer, and the imprint on Dave's ringtop is nice and sharp, too. Thanks for sharing those, Dave!