Saturday, April 6, 2013

Now Was That So Hard?

I’m a little obsessed with patents. Whenever I run across a pencil marked only with a patent date or patent number, I get that tingly, goosebumpy feeling and I can’t wait to look it up.

So when this one turned up in an online auction, I had to get it:


This tiny pencil is only marked around the nose:


"Pat. Jul 11 99." I brought it home and cracked open the databases to see what this one was all about, expecting the answer to just pop right out at me, but it didn’t. I scoured and scoured, even looking up every patent issued on July 11, 1899 to see if it was misindexed – nothing.
And so this one slipped into my cold case pile o’ pencils while other, easier patent prey were successfully stalked and blogged.

While I was cleaning up around the pencil room recently, I ran across this little guy again. It had been about a year since I had last tried to find out some more information about it, and I thought maybe, with an additional year’s experience rooting around in the patent archives under my belt, I’d be able to find something I’d missed earlier.

Since I remembered having difficulty finding the patent earlier, I decided to start by checking to see if I’d looked at the design patents, which patent the outward appearance of the object, rather than the regular patent register. Apparently I didn’t, because after just a couple minutes I’d found my answer:


Frank McIntyre received Design Patent 31,174 on July 11, 1899 for the unusual quilted-texture found on my mystery pencil. The assignee of McIntyre’s patent was the Eagle Pencil Company.

I don’t think I’ve improved that much at this. I think I was just a little stupid last time I looked.

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