Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Mabie Todd-Hutcheon Connection

Yesterday I reposted the article I wrote for The Pennant a couple years ago (http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-hutcheon-brothers-sidebar.html), after I realized that I was about to say a couple things about Hutcheon Brothers that assumed you had read it.  The article mentions the founding of Hutcheon Brothers by Albert G. Hutcheon, who left Mabie Todd “with some regrets” in 1913 to start his own firm, purchasing the business of O’Neill & Co.

The short announcement suggests that Hutcheon remained friendly with his former employer, but other than his pedigree, the only clue I found to suggest that Hutcheon retained a relationship with Mabie Todd has been the similarities of the names the two companies used for some of their pencils: “Fyne Poynt” for Mabie Todd, and “Finerpointe” and “Finepointer” for Hutcheon (and the simple “Fine Point Pencils” for the line of possibly Hutcheon-made pencils carried by Snapfil from that old Pennant article I wrote).

Recently, though, I’ve found more tangible connections between Hutcheon and Mabie Todd.  The first involves the most iconic and distinctive Hutcheon pencils: the “Hutch Clutch”:


Note the long, thin nose and the two distinctive caps.  Both of these examples are marked sterling, both are hand engraved, and each is marked “Hutch Clutch Pencil” at the top.  A glass advertising slide I found a few years ago shows an example, marked “780" (see https://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2012/07/so-thats-what-its-supposed-to-look-like.html).


Although these remain the only two marked examples I’ve found, two others have turned up recently:


Neither of these are marked.  The gold filled one came from Stephen Mandel at the Chicago Show, while the sterling pencil arrived in my recent care package I received from Michael McNeil, along with those Eversharps I recently wrote about here.  What I found really interesting about that gold filled one, with its gently wound fluted middle section and snail pattern at the ends, was that I’ve seen that pattern before:


In fact, the last time I discussed it, that pattern helped me identify the sterling pencil in this picture as having been made by Mabie Todd (see “M is for Mabie” at https://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/12/m-is-for-mabie.html).

The other unmarked Hutch Clutch also has strong Mabie Todd flair, and certainly appears more Victorian; it just looks much earlier than 1913, when Albert Hutcheon and Mabie Todd parted ways.

There’s nothing else in pencildom like the Hutch Clutch, and the shape of these unmarked pencils – right down to the distinctive tops, which match known examples of the model – convince me that there was some relationship between whoever made these two unmarked examples and Hutcheon.


But is there hard proof of a collaboration between Mabie Todd and Hutcheon Brothers?  Why yes, yes there is . . . and for that, I’ll invite you to tune back in tomorrow. . .

(the next installment is http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-hard-proof.html.)

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