Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Hallmark Mystery - Solved

You’re going to think I did this on purpose.

As of yesterday morning, when “The Hard Proof” ran (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-hard-proof.html), I admitted that I didn’t have anything concrete enough to say who might have made or produced the Hallmark magazine pencil:


It’s identical to the Hutcheon Magazine Pencil and, with the exception of the clip, with the more numerous Mabie Magazine Pencil:


After I posted about the article on Facebook, my friend David Nishimura commented that I should follow up in my research on the Hallmark hard rubber pens, “which are often found with the imprint altered to ALLMAR.”

David was referring to discussions in various forums starting years ago.  In 2009, “ebrian” on fountainpennetwork.com posted this picture (the thread is at http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/100404-hallmarkkraker-overlay-pens/page-1) of a pair of Hallmark pens, sporting exactly the same logo and a patent date of September 22, 1914:



The patent date refers to number 1,111,469, issued to George Kraker:


The pens were without question made by George Kraker, and in another thread over on fountainpenboard.com (the exact thread is at http://fountainpenboard.com/forum/index.php?/topic/655-kraker-pen-company-and-hallmark-pens/), Dennis Bowden and others discussed some pen barrels he had found, which had the H and the K deliberately obliterated to leave the word “ALLMAR.”  Speculation ensued, with Dennis theorizing that the Hallmark name was found to be an infringement on the name used by Hallmark Jewelers, and Daniel Kirchheimer offering a sound hyphothesis that after Sheaffer won its lawsuit against Kraker and took over all his remaining stock, the letters were obliterated to distinguish them from earlier pens made by Kraker.

While there may be a bit of truth in both of those lines of thought, I’ve got a better one, and it comes straight from a new resource you don’t have yet:


OK, this is the part where you are going to think I did this on purpose.  By sheer coincidence, my new book, American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953, was shipped from my publisher yesterday – the same day as this article ran.  Yes, when the book came out, I had planned to run a series of articles featuring things I’ve learned in the course of writing the book . . . things that I haven’t been able to find from any other source.

This wasn’t one of them.

I truly was simply remiss in failing to read my own new book before I ran yesterday’s article.  If I had, there I would have found the answer that unlocks the real story of the Hallmark pens made by Kraker and the pencils, made by Mabie Todd or Hutcheon . ..


United States Trademark 113,655 was filed on July 22, 1916 for “fountain pens and the parts thereof,” by United Jewelers, Inc.  The date of first use claimed was July 7, 1916.

United Jewelers, Inc. was an enterprise which started in Chicago to create a network of jewelers, no more than one in each city, which with their combined bargaining strength would be able to coerce suppliers to sell in bulk to them and, in theory, be able to offer higher quality merchandise at a cost savings.

Sounds exactly like the Guild Products Company scam of a few years later, in which stationers attempted to strongarm pen and pencil makers into supplying their house brands or else be excluded from their network, doesn’t it?  (I wrote an article about that a few years ago, which can be found at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2013/08/back-to-drawing-board.html.)

The network of jewelers was established and in place long before the trademark was used on “fountain pens and parts thereof,” as this advertisement from 1914 indicates:


With this bit of knowledge, we now know

1.  Now that we have Hallmark pens made by Kraker and pencils made by either Hutcheon or Mabie Todd, both with the same trademark and both spot on consistent with a first use of the mark in July, 1916, it is clear that both were made for United Jewelers, Inc. as part of their house-branding for their network of Hallmark stores.

2.  There was no trademark conflict with Hallmark Jewelers . . . Hallmark Jewelers were one and the same as those affiliated with United Jewelers, Inc., and these products were made for them, not in violation of their trademark.

3.  Hallmark was not a Kraker brand, it was a Kraker contract.  Whoever obliterated the first and last letters to make “ALLMAR” pens, whether it was Kraker, Sheaffer, or someone else, did so because they did not have a contract with United Jewelers, Inc. and wanted to make some use of leftover barrels,

Oh, and by the way . . . this Hallmark logo and the chain of Hallmark Jewelers had nothing to do with the greeting card company.  At the time, they were still known as Hall Brothers – and they didn’t adopt the trade name “Hallmark” until 1928.

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