Monday, January 18, 2016

Dr. Seested, I Presume

One of the most rewarding things about writing this blog is meeting people with whom I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths otherwise.  An article posted here prompts an email now and again, and after exchanging emails it’s gratifying to have someone come up to my table at a show and say “I’m so-and-so” and just like that it’s as if I’m meeting a long-lost friend.

Enter Vic Seested, whose passion is chasing metal pencils with those turned-up clips marked Hicks and Edward Todd.  Identical lines of pencils also turn up marked with the names of high-quality jewelry firms, such as Tiffany & Co. and Cartier . . . and “LT & Son,” a company whose identity eluded me the last time I visited the subject (http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2015/02/newsweek-v.html).  I’ve since updated that article with a link to an article David Nishimura posted over at his blog, identifying “LT” as “Louis Tamis,” a New York jewelry firm founded in 1909:


The direct link to David’s article is http://vintagepensblog.blogspot.com/2015/03/lt-louis-tiffany.html.

At the DC Show last August, I finally got to meet Vic Seested, and we shook hands as you’d expect old friends meeting for the first time to do.  Vic brought with him a few pencils from his stash for me to photograph, and I’ll start with the ones he shared marked with the Louis Tamis mark:


It doesn’t matter whether you prefer pretty colored celluloid to metal, or pens over pencils . . . you can’t look at these stockbroker pencils and say anything other than . . . dang.  They are even more impressive in person.  Each is marked LT & Son, and the combinations of concentric rings and horizontal lines on the barrel is identical to the designs found on Hicks and Edward Todd pencils.


Each is marked, as nearly all of these sorts of pencils are, at the top of the nose cone.  This spread includes sterling and 14k gold examples:


Here’s two others Vic has, both in sterling:



But this is where things get confusing.  Check out this one:


I mentioned earlier that these pencils are found with the names of high quality jewelry firms, such as Tiffany, Cartier and Louis Tamis . . . but two of these at the same time?


There has been speculation over the years concerning the source of all of these identical pencils, whether it be Hicks, Edward Todd, both or neither.  Louis Tamis was a jewelry manufacturer, but I don’t have any evidence suggesting they were a pencil manufacturer.  David Nishimura thinks Hicks was the most likely source for all of these, and I tend to agree . . . in a lineup between Hicks and Edward Todd, the latter was more businessman than pencilman, while the Hicks firm was a manufacturer.

It’s also possible, since the LT & Sons trademark entered usage in 1948, that LT acquired the machinery to make the pencils themselves, supplying them to Tiffany among others.  Vic had one other Tiffany/LT marked pencil to show me:



This bamboo design, from what I can tell, is a Louis Tamis original . . . a couple sources I read indicated that these were commissioned by Tiffany.  Dang, again . . . as in dang, that’s ugly, but I do appreciate the attraction to something so distinctive.  I’ve seen a few of these, both in pencil and ballpoint incarnations, and every time I see one, I think to myself to hold one is to look like you have waaaaay too much money.


Maybe that is what they were going for.

1 comment:

Michael Daigle said...

Wonderful Pencils! Stunning. I love a good maker mark! Great article, with a happy ending :-)