Friday, December 12, 2014

Speaking of Trupoint . . .

In yesterday’s post, I concluded that a pencil marked "Trupoint" was made by Eclipse, because the clip and overall construction were identical to that of another Eclipse subbrand, the Marxton:


That’s worth circling back around to for a minute. "Trupoint" was a brand name used by Sears, Roebuck & Co. for pens and pencils, and what appear to be the earliest examples I’ve found – earlier than the ones I pictured here yesterday – also appear to have been made by Eclipse:


Note again the identical fonts on nearly identical clips:


Later examples, however, were made by Eagle:


I picked up these sets within a couple days of each other in separate online auctions; all have typical Eagle trim and clips, and the clips are different from each other in one interesting respect:


Huh... identical sets, except that the "Tower Trupoint" set is smaller. I’d expect that to be the other way around. "Tower," by the way, was another Sears writing instruments brand.

Why am I so quick to attribute these sets to Eagle? First, the plastic, trim and clips on these match other Eagle-made brands, like Majestic and Congress. But I recently found something else that adds a bit more punctuation to the conclusion:


Thats the Trupoint shown in the center of the picture on page 158 of The Catalogue, shown next to a pencil in identical plastic with a clip marked "Epenco" – short for Eagle Pencil Company:


By the way, Eagle used an identical clip to the one on that Trupoint, typically on their longer, cheaply made pencils. Without digging around too much to find a nice one, here’s an example:


Which brings me to one last, intriguing find:


There’s the same plastic found on the early Eclipse example I showed you earlier, with a clip attributable to Eagle, all packaged together in a pencil that doesn’t match the profile of either. It does, however, match another profile perfectly:


That’s our Trupoint next to a "Realpoint" in what most people think of as Sheaffer’s blue "clown" plastic. Realpoint was an Autopoint subbrand, a combination of the names Realite and Autopoint, the two companies that had merged in the early 1920s. Autopoint used the brand name to produce conventional nose drive pencils (without the typical Autopoint removable tip) in some unusual plastics. There’s no doubt in my mind this Trupoint was made by Autopoint – check out the caps, which both have the distinctive hump:


And if you were to think that Autopoint didn’t use that cream and bronze plastic . . .


. . . you’d be wrong.


I’m left with a lot of questions about this. I think it’s clear that Autopoint supplied Trupoint-marked pencils to Sears, but did the company also supply pens? If so, which ones? If not, were they sold on their own, or were they paired with pens made by someone else?

And that clip, which I’ve always associated with Eagle . . . did Eagle supply them to Autopoint, or was there some third party vendor, such as our old friend Harry Esterow, who supplied both Eagle and Autopoint with them?

If Eagle was acquiring its clips from third party vendors, that would change a lot about how we think about dozens of brands we have attributed to Eagle based on them.

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