Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Trio of Tri-Points

It’s been awhile since I wrote about the Nichols Products Corporation’s line of Tri-Point pencils.  I’ve had a real soft spot for the brand since I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to acquire Edgar B. Nichols’ personal stash of prototypes, shop models and experimental pieces (Nichols was the inventor of the pencil).  Here’s two out of the three new ones that have come my way recently:


The black one is interesting, not only with that color mix with the “mother of toilet seat” top, but the absence of a metal tip: it’s the first I’ve seen in the wild.  All the other examples I know of were in Edgar Nichols’ shop (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2012/06/they-didnt-only-make-one.html), and it is nice to see my suspicion confirmed that the marbled ones were in fact production pieces:


The gray marbled example is interesting in that it’s the only application I’ve seen of Edgar’s creepiest patent, design patent 97,203, which was applied for on August 7, 1935 and granted on October 15, 1935:


Here’s the top end of the Tri-Point:


Although it would appear that Nichols had a taste for the macabre, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation why someone would want an eyeball ornamenting their pencil.   One of Nichols’ biggest customers was RCA Victor, which had the company make several variations of pencils promoting the company’s radio tubes (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2011/12/mono-point-wouldnt-have-sold-very-well.html).  In 1932, Allen B. DuMont invented a new radio tube which had a disc mounted on the top which glowed brighter depending on the relative strength of the signal received or audio output.   These green glowing tubes were put on the market in 1935 by RCA Victor as the “Magic Eye Tube” to assist with tuning into radio broadcasts:


So if you don’t mind a goofy eyeball staring back at you from your shirt pocket, this is an interesting bit of radio history.

The third Tri-Point I’ve got to show you came my way through the auction at the Raleigh Pen Show . . . I was bidding on a larger lot of pencils, in which this one wasn’t what I was really going after.  Brian McQueen was also in the bidding – and it was what he was chasing.


After the auction was over, Brian asked if I would part with it, and I said I needed to compare it to my stash first, and after I did so, I had to tell him that no, I couldn’t part with it.  Not only did I not have that color:


I didn’t have one with that clip, either.

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