This article has been a long, long time coming.
Every time I circle back around to talk about the Rex Manufacturing Company, I’m reminded how all of that research started with this pencil:
The pencil – or rather what was left of it – was proudly featured on page 125 of The Catalogue. Unfortunately, while it has served valiantly as a great conversation piece, it has not been able to serve as well as a pencil:
In all the years I’ve had this little guy, I haven’t tried to repair it for one simple reason: I’m a stickler for originality and correctness, and I won’t do anything to restore a pencil unless I’m absolutely certain I am bringing it back to its original condition.
This Rex pencil is obviously different from its later progeny. Here it is, shown next to the Gold Medal I was discussing just the other day (“Rex Redux” on July 23, 2013), with the earlier single piece tip and only the McNary 1924 patent date imprinted on it.
Of course the difference in the ferrule is obvious, but take a closer look at the other end:
Note that the ring to which the clip is mounted is much more rounded on the lower edge, and instead of a cap that butts up against that ring, the Gold Medal has a cap that stops short, with a secondary cap piece secured above it.
Things began to come together when I found the Rex pencil with the advertisement for the Triad Manufacturing Company on it:
There’s that same pronounced rounded trim ring, but the Triad advertiser has a gold filled tip that looks to be correct. My Triad is also missing the cap, which in this case doesn’t make much difference, since these had a special figural cap shaped like a Triad Radio Tube that wouldn’t have been the right cap for my jade green Rex, anyway.
Which brings me to last night, when I was down in the “museum” trolling around in a drawer full of pencils looking (as usual) for something entirely different, when I stumbled across an unmarked pencil I found at the Chicago Pen Show last May, on Terry Mawhorter’s table. The only reason I picked it up was for the parts, since it’s always nice to have a few donors on hand for when I find a damaged Rex pencil with a neat name on the clip. When I got home, I absentmindedly put it away and forgot about it. But now a few months later, for whatever reason I was looking at it in a whole different light:
It sure looks like it all belongs together, but that cap just doesn’t look like the later Rex progeny:
Or does it? Remember the “Gold Bond,” one of the Montgomery Ward store brands manufactured initially by National Pen Products? There’s two distinct varieties, illustrated on page 81 of The Catalogue:
I’d identified the five on the left in this photo as being Rex patent pencils, but when it came to the three on the right, all I said was that they were “in the style of” the Diamond Medal Diplomat series, which National made for Sears, Roebuck & Co.
But when one of these Gold Bonds is placed alongside the Triad advertiser and my Chicago find, I think it’s clear that these bell-top pencil are perfectly correct on an earlier Rex patent pencil:
And when I tried to switch the parts from my donor pencil onto the jade Rex:
They fit. Perfectly. And I am now sure to a moral certainty that this Rex is restored to its original condition.