Monday, December 28, 2015

Something Just a Little Off

I picked up these two separately, the more recent example at the Scott Antique Show in Columbus last month:


Both are early Dur-O-Lite utility pencils; one has a decorative cap covering the eraser, while the other has a plain exposed eraser.  Both have that great early Dur-O-Lite imprint:


Something about these two spoke to me . . . they just looked a little bit different from what I remembered, although I couldn’t put my finger on it.  For the couple bucks each cost me, I thought I’d bring them home and compare them to the examples I had.  I remembered having a black one, and a red one, and a blue one to boot:


Side by side, the differences became more obvious.  All the utility pencils I’ve found along these lines had straight eraser ferrules and not a decorative cap, which is a little unusual.  But the really interesting part is the clips:


The examples I had found previously all had a clip that looks almost inset into the barrel – Wahl Eversharp pencils had a very similar feature, patented by John Wahl himself, among others, as number 1,279,186 on September 17, 1918:


If these were made around 1931, that would have been right around the time the patents would have expired.

But the clips on these more recent finds are equally distinctive – a square bolt holds the clip to the barrel, while a tab at the top bends into a slot in the barrel to keep it from spinning around like the second hand on a watch.  The only other place I’ve seen a clip like this . . . is also on an Eversharp:


That’s one of the Eversharp “bumblebee” dollar pencils, also from about 1931.  The only difference is the use of a hexagonal clip rather than a square one.

Were the newly established Dur-O-Lite (founded in 1925 in an investors’ schism over allowing Bakelite to acquire a controlling interest in Autopoint) and Eversharp (the company that chased out Charles Keeran, who went on to become involved with Autopoint) cross-licensing?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that square headed bolt is original to the pencil?

Michael Little
Halfhyde@yahoo.com