Monday, March 25, 2013

I'm Monitoring These Pretty Closely

Another fuzzy picture from an online auction brought this one to my doorstep:


It was missing the red cap on top, but I make a point to buy these pencils in more common colors whenever I can so that I have a few spares on hand. Yep, that’s how they are supposed to look:


I wasn’t sure from the auction whether this one would be marked "Wahl Eversharp" or "Monitor" on the clip – either way I would have been excited, because the color on this is so unusual. This one happens to be a Monitor:


This is another example of what I call "Eversharp-Autopoint hybrids," as discussed on page 62 of The Catalogue (a name for which some Autopoint purists have taken me to task, saying the tip more closely resembles a Realite than an Autopoint – see "To-maaah-to" posted here on June 25, 2012). But it’s neither the nickname I gave it nor the cool color that has me writing about this one today – it’s the patent.
In the book, I indicate that these are marked with patent number 1,693,578 on the end of the barrel. That wasn’t really fair, because if you’ve been hunting everywhere and can’t find it, it’s because it’s on the VERY end of the barrel, underneath the removable nose:


That number refers to a patent issued to John Straka, which he applied for on April 18, 1921 but which wasn’t issued for seven years, on November 27, 1928:


And it has absolutely nothing to do with this pencil. I indicate in The Catalogue that a second Straka patent, number 1,693,579, is closer:

Straka had to wait almost as long for this one to issue – it was applied for on August 16, 1922. But when I took a closer look at the drawings, I don’t think this one is any closer than the first Straka patent. At first it looks like the second patent shows a removable nose cone, but if you look closely, that's actually a jagged edge on the bottom of the barrel:

This indicates that part of the tip (figure 1) is being shown hacked away in the drawings for demonstrative purposes only.

So where, if not from Charles Keeran’s Autopoint, would Wahl Eversharp have claimed patent rights to a removable-nose pencil? Well, there were a couple other patents issued that same day to Wahl employees: this one was issued on November 27, 1928 to none other than John C. Wahl himself, who received patent number 1,693,580 on an application he filed on April 12, 1924:

It clearly shows a removable nose section, but rather than the Autopoint-style paddle shaped plunger, this one also has a bent piece of wire that threads into a spiral.

But the closest patent I could find was the third Straka patent issued on that date, number 1,693,577. Straka waited longer for this one than any of his other patents, having applied for this one on September 25, 1920:

You have to look at this one closely to see it, but there at the tip is a removable nose that simply butts up against the end of the barrel:


I think this is the patent under which these pencils were made, and the number stamped on the ends of these barrels – 1,693,578 -- is a typo, and the number that should have been stamped on them should have been 1,693,577.

That may solve a riddle, but it doesn’t solve the most interesting riddle. Sure, it’s great to finally understand which patent actually applies to this pencil, but this answers other questions concerning why they were made.

More on that tomorrow . . .

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