Pencil hounds like me can spot pencils like these from a mile away and know what they are.
Within three guesses, anyway. Those clips aren’t bent, and that distinctive turned-up ball clip design narrows down the names you’ll likely find on these pencils to three high quality producers.
Take the gold one, for example. This one turned up in the collection Ross McKinney liquidated at the 2012 Raleigh Show, and it was one of the last items left after everything had been picked clean during an hours-long feeding frenzy. There are a few small dents in the barrel, and even though that top fits perfectly, the slightly different color tells me it’s probably a replacement for one that has gone missing.
But what’s imprinted on the nose still gives this tired pencil some street credentials:
“Tiffany & Co. 14kt.” Unfortunately, with the dents and the wrong cap, this one’s worth more for the gold that’s in it than as a collectable, but fortunately I was able to save this one from being melted down with an offer somewhere between pencil value and gold value – and a promise that it wouldn’t be destroyed for its intrinsic value.
Tiffany didn’t manufacture its own pencils, but rather it “produced” them – that is, the firm had pencils made exclusively for its own account. The actual manufacturer is our second turned-up clip company, represented by the sterling silver pencil next to it in that first picture today.
This one was a walk-in find from the Baltimore show in March – I bought several things from the fellow that brought these to sell, and I’m ashamed to admit that after we talked for half an hour or so, I’ve forgotten his name (if you’re out there and reading, please jog my memory).
Note that in addition to the same clip, this one also has those distinctive groups of vertical and horizontal lines. Like the Tiffany, this one is also marked at the nose:
A capital H, with a W above the crossbar and an S below it, signifies that the pencil was made by W.S. Hicks.
I’ve saved the best for last. Michael McNeil from Northwest Pen Works emailed me after one of my recent blog articles to see if I might be interested in this one:
It didn’t take long for me to email him back and say “yes, please.” Here’s the same turned up clip, with lines on the barrel:
And again, the company’s hallmark is found near the nose:
That anchor-like hallmark, if you look at it closely, actually forms the letters ET, for Edward Todd.
I’ve been looking for an Edward Todd side clip pencil for some time (the magic pencils and other styles are easier to find), but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to pick one of these up.
It’s huge, it’s beautiful, and it’s in fantastic condition. But that’s not what has me hoisting it over my head and, in my best Charlton Heston riff, saying “Not from my cold, dead hand!” Did you notice that goofy helmet-like top? If you turn it to unlock it and pull it up, look what’s underneath:
What prompted Michael to write me was my lament last week at having let go a Redipoint lighter pencil some years ago, an action I have come to regret. His email was titled “Need a light?”
Yes I do, Michael. I absolutely do.