Saturday, September 24, 2016

Double Takes

I had an epiphany recently, as I tripped over a pile of pencils that I haven’t yet written about: there’s a significant number of pencils in my collection which are notable only for the name imprinted on the clip.  “No names,” pencils like these are often derisively called, but I think the title isn’t a particularly good one since the name is about all this genre has going for it.  “Also rans,” might be a bit better,

I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good name – wordsmithing is a particular passion of mine, and whether it’s at a complicated mechanism or a fairly ordinary pencil with a name like “Sapphire,” I appreciate both.  Nevertheless, with such a the huge number of conventional nose-drive, middle joint pencils and Welsh-mechanism flattops cluttering things up around the museum, I thought it was time to invest in a few parts storage cabinets (the six-inch drawers in which are perfect for storing up to around 8 pencils each) and clear out some room on the display wall.

Before I did, though, I thought it would be fun for a few Saturdays to introduce a few names that you won’t find in The Catalogue, since I’ve stumbled upon them in the course of collecting since the book was published.   Today’s selections require double takes, since it was only my incessant need to read the name on the clip that revealed these aren’t what you think they are.  Take these three for example, all of which look like later Chicago-made Conklins:


The length of that black one had me looking a bit closer, and I learned this is no Conklin.  It’s a “Commodore”:


As for the other two, one showed up in an online auction, so the title of the listing gave it away as a “Guvnor”:


The other, though, was in a junk box at an antique show.  That wide band struck me as just different enough to have a closer look, and I was surprised to see it is a “Skylark”:


Here’s a pair of pencils in a very distinctive brown “lizard” plastic with green streaks – very indicative of a “Majestic” or “Ambassador.”


One of them is, shown for comparison to the other one, which is marked “St. Regis”:


Here’s another pair, the longer of which is a familiar later Diamond Point:


The other one, with its red marbled plastic, lured me in for a closer look, to learn it is instead marked “Commander”:


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