Sunday, January 1, 2017

Who Designed the Sheaffer Sharp Point

Some time ago, my friend David Nishimura posted an article over at his blog titled “Who Designed the Eversharp Pencil?” (the link is http://vintagepensblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/who-designed-eversharp-pencil.html).  He rightly states that the earliest Eversharps, which were made by Heath, were made by retrofitting barrels and caps from Heath’s clutch pencils with Charles Keeran’s new mechanism.

So far, this article sounds like a broken record - I started with that same paragraph here on December 21 as an introduction to my article on the “Every Pound Pulls” pencils made by Heath and Brown & Bigelow.  This time, though, I’m bringing up David’s article because I’ve just figured out something:

Sheaffer did the same thing Eversharp did.

Not the “Every Pound Pulls” figural pencil bit - although that would be cool of find a Sheaffer Sharp Point in that pattern!  No, what I found is that the mechanism that would become Sheaffer’s Sharp Point was similarly retrofitted into a clutch pencil.

I’ve known about these Sheafferesque clutch pencils for some time.  Here’s a picture showing the early Sharp Point featured in “Wahl, Sheaffer and the Race for Boston,” at top, compared to two examples of these early clutch pencils:


The clips are identical:


The chasing on the checkerboard example is nearly identical to what I’ve found on another Sharp Point:


Inside, the same design influences are present:



However, there’s no markings to identify who might have made these.  The only markings are “Pat. Apl’d For”


Until recently, I didn’t know exactly what to make of these.  But an advertisement I recently found has me thinking:


This is a page from G.W. Huntley & Company’s 1915 catalog – a year before Wahl and Sheaffer wrangled over the Boston Fountain Company, and two years before Sheaffer’s Sharp Point was introduced.   Who designed the Sheaffer Sharp Point?  Obviously, the answer is whoever made the clutch pencils pictured in this catalog.;

G.W. Huntley was a Chicago-based mail order business.  We know that Boston Fountain pens were being sold at Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago – that’s how Colonel William E. Smith became acquainted with the brand and first hit upon the idea to pair Boston fountain pens with Eversharp pencils. In fact, let’s take a closer look at that Marshall Field ad from my article:


I didn’t notice that before . . .


“‘Eversharp’ and clutch pencils $1.00.”   Do you suppose these unmarked clutch pencils were made by the Boston Fountain Pen Company?  

That would add an interesting dimension to the story.

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