Sue Hershey found a really nice pencil, and she sent me a few pictures to ask what I knew about it:
And what she found was that I knew absolutely nothing about it. At the top of the pencil, she’d found a cryptic imprint. Would that help?
"I think I see a doggie." Nope. I got nothin’ here. Nada.
But I did have something that I found to be very helpful: David Nishimura’s email address. Within just a few minutes after I sent out the distress call in the hopes that someone in the peanut gallery would be able to help me save a little face, David emailed me back. "Byers and Hayes, I think," he said.
David was absolutely correct. A search with those terms turned up several pictures of pens with a Byers and Hayes imprint, with a logo on the clip identical to the one found on Martha’s pencil. The formation of Byers and Hayes by John E. Hayes, a former manager at Aikin Lambert, and George T. Byers was announced in The American Stationer on June 10, 1916:
The firm was still located at 68 Barclay Street in 1921, as noted in an advertisement the company placed in The American Stationer during July of that year:
According to the "Pencyclopedia" at W-B Pens and Watches and Richard Binder's Pen Glossary, Byers and Hayes was more serious about making pen parts for other manufacturers than they were about making pens and for their own account. You'd never know that from looking at Sue's pencil, since it is a substantial, high quality piece, probably from the mid- to late 1920s. There are suggestions that the company survived into the 1930s -- the Pencyclopedia indicates that the firm was located at 133 Monroe Street, New York in 1931 -- but I wasn't able to pinpoint when the firm ceased operations or was absorbed into another concern.
But there was one other tidbit I kept tripping on while I researched Byers and Hayes that piqued my curiosity: the persistent suggestion from several sources that Byers and Hayes made the "Never Dull" pencil. Tomorrow, I’ll explain why I find that so interesting . . .
Epilogue: Until my encounter with Sue, I had never heard of Byers and Hayes. Just a couple weeks after she sent me these pictures, I was at the Raleigh Pen Show nosing through Richard Vacca’s wares when this little guy jumped out of one case and into my hands:
This example of the Byers and Hayes, unlike Sue’s, uses a standard .046 inch lead and lacks the necked-down nose seen on her example.