Thursday, February 12, 2015

Who Copied Who?

"Eversharp copy" is a term collectors apply to broadly to any metal pencil that has a crown top. As David Nishimura notes in his article on the subject (see http://www.vintagepensblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/who-designed-eversharp-pencil.html), the outward appearance of the Eversharp was due to the fact that the early Eversharps were made by Heath. I posed a Heath and an early Heath-made Ever Sharp next to each other in "The Mother Lode" a couple weeks ago:


To my knowledge, neither Heath nor anyone else received a design patent for the look of the Eversharp - in fact, I don’t think Heath was the designer of the look, either, which was in all likelihood a residual design element drawn from earlier Victorian pencils:


This is a dip pen/pencil Jim Carpenito had at the DC Show. The combo itself is unmarked, but it is fitted with a Leroy Fairchild Number 5 nib:


I showed this one to David Nishimura, who said he thinks the combo itself was not made by Fairchild - so I share it with you as I found it for whatever it’s worth. Suffice to say this one, and dozens of other Victorian pencils along these lines, predate the Heath clutch pencils by a couple decades or more, and the similarities between the crowns on this and an Eversharp are uncanny:


Yet by 1922, Wahl believed itself to be the alpha and the omega of metal pencils with crowns on top:


While copying Eversharp’s style of lettering on the Superites was part of what put DeWitt-LaFrance in Eversharp’s crosshairs, the "other distinctive features" could only refer to design elements which weren’t Eversharp’s original creations. I’m still researching what happened in the case of Wahl Pencil v. DeWitt-LaFrance, as well as the other reasons why Wahl picked that particular "copycat."

The point to the story at this time is that inside, the pencils made by DeWitt-LaFrance were nothing like anything Eversharp made. In my book, it takes more than a pretty, "eversharpy" face to earn the label "Eversharp copy." By the time Eversharp was finished with the innards that Charles Keeran patented, American tastes had evolved and to my knowledge, the design was not copied here after the pencil’s design entered the public domain.

Overseas, however, was another story . . .

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