Monday, July 10, 2017

J. E. Caldwell & Co.

This is another Victorian pencil that I’ve had for awhile and "rediscovered" while I was reorganizing the Victorian wing of the Museum:


The rose gold finish is nice and unblemished on this typical magic pencil, but it doesn’t have the weight you’d expect from solid gold, and it isn’t so marked.  It does, however, bear an imprint on the extension.


“J.E. Caldwell & Co.”  The barrel has a commemorative engraving.  I never mind these, especially when they provide a date:


“M.D.M. / Xmas 1899.”

Although I haven’t seen one of these before, J.E. Caldwell & Company was easy to track down.  The jewelry firm was founded in 1839 by James Emott Caldwell.  According to Wikipedia, Caldwell apprenticed in New York before moving to Philadelphia in 1836, where he formed a partnership with James M. Bennett, styled Caldwell & Bennett.  After Bennett died, Caldwell associated with John C. Farr and the firm was renamed J.E. Caldwell & Co.  The firm remains in business today.

I haven’t found any writing instrument patents issued to either Caldwell or Farr, and given the rather conventional design of this pencil, I suspect Caldwell had this made and imprinted for them rather than engaging in the actual manufacture of pencils.  Still, it is a nice, clean piece, and it does represent another chapter in early American mechanical pencils.

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