Monday, July 1, 2013

Soooooooo Close!

NOTE:  This article contains some errors.  See "Back To The Drawing Board" posted July 5, 2013.

When I wrote my recent article on what the first Ever Sharps looked like, just a couple weeks ago, I honestly wasn’t writing it thinking that anyone out there was going to email my right back and say "oh yeah, I’ve got one right here." I’m patient. I assumed that it might be years from now that someone would write me an email that started with "I was researching this pencil I have, and I found your article on the Internet . . . "

I really wasn’t expecting someone to email me within days with something sooooooo close (I’d add a few more "o"s, but you get the picture) to what it is that we are hunting for. John Coleman, who like many of us pencil collectors has collected in a relative vacuum of information, stumbled across my blog here and has been sending me some pictures of things he’s had laying about for awhile, one of which was this:


It’s obviously an Eversharp mechanism, but to be more correct, it’s a pre-Eversharp mechanism. Note the imprint:


"EXTRA LEADS BLACK 25c, INDELIBLE 35c/
KEERAN & CO. BLOOMINGTON, ILL."

If you are into Eversharps, this should make your eyes pop right out of your head. Before there was Wahl Eversharp, which began in late 1917, Wahl was making pencils for Charles Keeran’s "Ever Sharp Pencil Company." Remember Jim Carpenito’s demonstrator?


According to Charles Keeran’s 1928 letter to Wahl, Keeran set up the Ever Sharp Pencil Company in early 1914. And before that – BEFORE THAT – BEFORE Charles Keeran went to Chicago, BEFORE Keeran went to New York, and BEFORE there was an Ever Sharp Pencil Company, there was "Keeran & Co.," based in Charles Keeran’s home town of Bloomington, Illinois.

I had postulated that Keeran’s first pencils -- the ones he introduced at Wanamakers Department Store during the Christmas shopping season of 1913 – may or may not have been marked "Ever Sharp" and may or may not have had a rudimentary crown cap, since Keeran’s original patent drawings weren’t very clear on what kind of cap Keeran had yet settled upon. Note that the cap on John’s mechanism has a shorter tapered section and a noticably wider decorative band than what we see on "later" Heath clip examples like this one:


This suggests that when John's mechanism was made, Keeran hadn't yet fully settled on the design.

For Ever Sharp historians, this may be the most significant step in tracing back to the origins of the Ever Sharp to come along in a long, long time. John isn’t parting with the mechanism, since he still has boxes of stuff that he’s acquired over the years to go through, and he thinks the barrel that went with this pencil just might be among the things he acquired.

Keep digging, John!

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