Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nailed It . . . Pretty Much

Almost two years ago, I posted an article here (“Establishing a Connection” on August 19, 2013, http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2013/08/establishing-connection.html) in which I was looking at the early metal Eclipse “Never Dull” pencils, comparing them to a pencil marked “Rexhold” and other similar pencils, many of which bore a patent date of February 19, 1924.  That date was for Lawrence McNary’s patent, the first of a series of patents assigned to the Rex Manufacturing Company.   I theorized, based on many similarities between them, that Rex made Eclipse’s early metal pencils.

If only, I said at the time, I could conclusively establish that “Rexhold” referred to the Rex Manufacturing Comapny.  That “if only” was resolved when I stumbled across a notation in a 1922 trademark directory establishing without a doubt that in fact was true (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-definitive-answer-and-more-distinct.html, posted on May 11, 2015).

There was one last “if only”in that 2013 post: a metal pencil marked “E-Z Rite.” That pencil bore several fingerprints consistent with this theory – three out of four similarities, in fact: the clips, keyed caps, crimped tops were identical.  The only difference was a slight variation in the barrel pattern, slight enough to cause me to pull back a bit.  Wouldn’t it be nice to establish without question that the E-Z Rite was made by Rex and eliminate any lingering doubts?

Earlier this month, Daniel Kirchheimer tipped me off that this set was listed in an online auction:


The set is fairly nondescript, and it wasn’t even listed as an E-Z Rite set.  But look at what came with it!


There it is . . . the last nail in the coffin.  The E-Z Rite was made by the Rex Manufacturing Company.  Rexhold was a Rex trademark.  The Eclipse “Never Dull” is practically identical to both.  There’s no question.  Rex made Eclipse’s first pencils.

But wait . . . there’s more.  Here’s a closer look at the set:


I was hoping, given that the certificate indicates that the company made pens marked “Rex,” that the pen would bear that name somewhere, but no – the only marking is “14k Gold Filled” on the barrel:


The instructions for the pen are no more helpful:


In fact, the pencil instructions are similarly generic:


But the pencil yielded a surprise:


It isn’t an E-Z Rite.  It’s an “S&K.”  Now I was thoroughly stumped, and I started pouring through everything I could find in the hopes that I could turn up known pen companies starting with S and K . . . the closest I could find were Settles and Kritikson, both of whom were associated with the Security check protector pens, but all the evidence I could find indicated that it was first Settles and then Kritikson – no indication that the two were ever operating together in partnership.  Yet I found one curious tie between them: Settles produced the “Supremacy” line of writing instruments, and pencils I have marked Supremacy were made by Rex.  Maybe?

As of now, that remains a wild theory.  As Daniel Kirchheimer and I batted this around, he thought a more likely possibility was Skinner & Kennedy, a stationer’s house in St. Louis, Missouri which was operating during the 1920s.  I have to agree that a Skinner & Kennedy house brand seems more likely, but neither of us has found anything concrete to indicate they offered a house brand of writing instruments.

And what of the E-Z Rite paperwork that came with this set?  Even though it conclusively solves the Eclipse/Rexhold/E-Z Rite question, it’s a little anti-climactic that the pencil isn’t an E-Z Rite and the pen isn’t marked Rex.  Even so, I’m convinced that this paperwork is what came with this set from the Rex factory . . . although it was a factory goof.

How do I know this?  I’ll show you tomorrow.

Note:  this story continues at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2015/07/how-i-know.html.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

S & K ?

How about Shatkun & Kahn
1488 88th Street
Brooklyn, New York

From The American Stationer and Office Outfitter
March 29, 1921 Page 80

Michael Little
Phoenix, AZ
Halfhyde