Monday, July 22, 2013

The Pencil With An Executive Touch

The "Executive" appears on page 79 of The Catalogue. Until recently, the one in the book was the only one I’d seen, so when this one showed up in an online auction, I thought it best to try to bring it home:


Both of my examples are marked only on the clip:


That unusual clip serves a dual function. Folded out, it doubles as a letter opener:


And, thanks to an imprint on the underside of the clip, the patent is really easy to find:


Benjamin J. Title of Jacksonville, Florida applied for a patent for his letter opener attachment on May 28, 1928, and his patent was granted on February 19, 1929.


While the patent for this one may be easy to find, that one tidbit has proven to be in itself a dead end – generic search terms like "Executive" and a last name that doubles as a generic noun have stymied my efforts to learn more.

However, on closer examination the pencils themselves do tell us something more. Here’s the new one posed next to the one pictured in the book:


That rich bronze and black and that cream color with black veins, when I saw them together, called to mind something else:


Here they are, shown next to a "Ritzie" (at top) and an "Ajax" (at bottom), both of which were made by National Pen Products of Chicago. Although celluloid colors such as these are hardly exclusive enough to establish a link, note that both are rear drive pencils with identical ferrules:


And at the other end, the clincher. Shown with the caps removed, the inner workings appear to be identical:


So Benjamin Title’s letter opener attachment truly was simply an attachment that could find a home atop any pencil. In these cases, the pencils they are attached to were specially made for this series – note that these pencils themselves are uniformly half an inch shorter than their Ritzie and Ajax counterparts. But I’m convinced the "Executive" attachments I’ve found are attached to clipless pencils made by National Pen Products.

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