Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

(Note: this is the second part of an article that began yesterday.  To start at the beginning, see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/08/frank-pearces-wild-kingdom.html)

When I returned from Raleigh in June, I was wondering whether the Frank T. Pearce Company might have used other clips on its pencils during the time the company was being sued for patent infringement by George T. Byers in 1914 and 1915, in light of an unlikely find of a Pearce pencil with an unusual dragon clip.  Two weeks later, as I was trolling around the online auctions, this one turned up:


The pictures in the online auction weren’t very clear, but the auction description indicated that the pencil was a Pearce and that blob at the top was an “elephant clip,” and that’s exactly what it is:


On the crown, the pencil is marked with the F.T. Pearce hallmark:


And best of all, the elephant’s left ear also bears a Pearce hallmark:


Last, I checked volume 2 of my patent book, since I had a dim recollection of a design patent for this clip being issued.  There it was, and it provides the last pieces of the puzzle:


Aldridge G. Pearce, Frank’s son, applied for a design patent for this clip on July 27, 1914, and it was issued after his death on November 24, 1914.  The timing of the patent filing fits perfectly into the F.T. Pearce drama with George T. Byers: Byers was awarded a design patent for the snake clip design Byers stole from Pearce in January, 1914, and Byers filed his patent infringement lawsuit in January, 1915.  Pearce apparently decided to come up with a different clip to use, just in case Byers succeeded – and this time, when Aldridge cooked up a design for an elephant clip, Pearce took out a design patent so that George couldn’t pull the same trick twice.

As for the dragon clip featured on yesterday’s Pearce, I now believe that it is in fact original to the pencil.  Prior to the dustup with Byers, Pearce had acquired its snake clip blanks from an outside source, the T.W. Lind Company.  I theorize that when George T. Byers first threatened suit after he was awarded his patent, Pearce initially found a source for different, snakelike clips (which were available to other companies as well, such as Salz) before designing its own, unique design in house.  

1 comment:

Historian said...

Excellent work. I find myself attracted to that elephant clip!