Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Because I Liked the Clip

I’ve been paying a bit more attention to Redipoints when I see them online lately, after finding “Bug,” “Son of Bug” and “Granddaddy of Bug.”  When this one showed up in an online auction, though, I was looking at something else:


That accommodation clip perfectly matches a typical Brown & Bigelow clip, but it’s topped with cutouts in the shape of “BB”:


In fact, I was so taken with this cool little clip that I looked no further before bidding.  When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was more to it:


That top could only signify another example of “Granddaddy of Bug,” and this one even has a little arrow on the cap to show which way to turn it in order to release it:


This one has the same imprint found on the other example: “REDIPOINT / Pat. Pdg. B&B St. Paul,” but it also says something else:


“Providence Art Metal Co. / Edgar E. Craddock, Gen. Mgr.”  Now stop for a second and think about that: “Art Metal” suggests a company that makes all sorts of metal “specialties,” including mechanical pencils.  Ronson Penciliters, for example, were made by the Aronson’s “Art Metal Works.”  As I detailed in “Granddaddy of Bug” recently, these repeating pencils were made at the very dawn of Brown & Bigelow’s foray into mechanical pencils – before these were made, the company only made advertising calendars and such.

Let's weigh the two possibilities this pencil suggests.  The first is that a Minnesota advertising calendar company suddenly filed patent applications for a new mechanical pencil, invested a significant amount of capital needed for large-scale production of the pencils, and sold some of the very first ones the company made to an art metal company which was already set up to make these pencils themselves.  That’s like finding a Sheaffer pearlie with an advertisement for Parker on the side.  If that’s what happened, old man Bigelow was truly the greatest salesman in history, literally selling ice cream to eskimoes.

The second possibility is that Brown & Bigelow had the design but hired out the manufacture of a new and unproven product line to a fabricating shop.  No contest - this second scenario has to be right.  Even better, I now suspect that the likely manufacturer was some outfit called the “Providence Art Metal Company,” about which I have been able to find absolutely nothing.

Maybe the Providence Art Metal Company was a standalone concern.  Maybe it was set up by Brown & Bigelow as a separate company to test the waters in the mechanical pencil field, quickly folded back into B&B when the pencils were commercially successful.

And to think I only bought the damned thing because I liked the clip!

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