Friday, August 11, 2017

A Different Take on a Familiar Name

In a recent auction of larger, flattop pencils online, this was not the one that interested me the most:


The pencil appeared to be a Magnum Pointer (see page 47 of The Catalogue), but in red . . . a color that I didn’t have.  Besides, I don’t think I’ve added one to my collection since I wrote the book:


But with that silver-colored trim, it doesn’t quite fit into the series.   I wondered if it might instead be part of this series:


At the Chicago Show three years ago I bought an advertisement from Terry Mawhorter referring to these as the “Silver Canary.”  The advertisement was for a third-party contest, though, with these pens and pencils being offered as a prize – so I wasn’t firmly convinced that was the name Eagle gave to it.  Unfortunately, that piece of ephemera was such an odd shape that was sure to put it someplace where it wouldn’t get damaged.  That explains why I can’t lay my hands on it to snap a picture for it now; it is amazing how few things get lost around the museum, but when things go missing they really go missing.

No worries.  It will turn up.

In the meantime, though, I don’t think this new Eagle belongs alongside the Silver Canary, since the latter sports clips which are bolted on, as well as a bell-shaped cap:


This example, just like those gold-filled Magnum Pointers, has a distinctive clip stamped “Pat. Pend.”:


I’m not sure whether the imprint relates to just the clip or to the entre pencil.  The patent for the pencil is easy: it was applied for by Otto Huber on June 6, 1929 and was issued on April 14, 1931 as number 1,800,201:


The clip, though, is a little trickier to find.  Since to my knowledge it appears only on Eagle Magnum Pointers, I checked the “Patents by Assignee” section of American Writing Instrument Patents Volume 2: 1911-1945, and none of the clip patents listed under Eagle fit the bill.  Some rainy day I’ll wade through all the clip patents to see if this patent was issued to an individual and was never assigned to Eagle – or even more fascinating, if the patent was assigned to a company other than Eagle.

Of course, it’s possible the patent was never issued at all.

There are two types of Magnum Pointers in the Eagle lineup, and this one appears to have a bit of both: the trim of the “Platinite Finish” line, and the clip of the gold-filled ones.  Note that on the platinite finish ones, the barrels are faceted and the clip matches the earlier “Ritaway” series:


Magnum Pointers are prominently marked on the cap on both series:



Which leads me to one other interesting feature on this new addition.  It isn’t marked “Magnum Pointer”


It’s marked “Automatic.”

The Automatic name has a long and varied history with the Eagle Pencil Company.  It was originally used to describe the company’s early “Stop Gauge” clutch pencils and was registered as a trademark by Eagle (yes, it’s included in American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953) as number 9,102 on February 14, 1882:


The name was also applied to later Eagle pencils, both the thin model Automatics frequently found with “Property of U.S. Government” imprints as well as the wooden Giant Automatics, including those painted with Chicago Worlds’ Fair, Popeye and other souvenir scenes.

Does this mean my example comes before, after or during the Platinite Finish and gold filled Magnum Pointers?  I’ve always been inclined to think Platinite Finish Magnum Pointers came first, since they carried over features from earlier lines, while the gold filled ones were a later, more refined step.  Since the skinny plastic Automatic wasn’t patented until a bit later, after flattop pencils such as these had become passe, I’m inclined to think that after upscaling the Magnum Pointer line with gold filled trim, Eagle reverted back to Platinite trim to cut costs and revived an old and venerable name in an effort to boost sales – shortly before abandoning everything but the Automatic name.

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