Friday, August 4, 2017

Lund in America?

Not too long ago, I posted an article about the Lund, pencils which have an external spiral to propel the lead:

The pencils are attributed to William Lund of London due to the English patent awarded to him in 1856, although many examples are unmarked.  In fact, of the three shown in that previous article, only one was marked:

Another example recently came up in an online auction, and I had to bite on it because it was just different enough from the others, and had just enough more design flair, that I thought it would look nice alongside the others:

The seller indicated in her acution listing that the pencil had some faint lettering on it, which she couldn’t quite make out.  I spent a good bit of time with a loupe under a strong light to see what I could see, and eventually I began to discern a few letters and numbers.  Of course, as hard as it was to make out on the pencil with a magnifier, it was next to impossible to catch a faint imprint on a black barrel with a camera.  Here’s the closest I got:

You can barely make out “AUG” in this picture, which is the clearest of the letters.  After a while, I was able to make out “PATENT AUG 10 __8    GD Y.”

Wait a minute, I thought.  That’s not a British imprint . . . that’s American (note that the only other marked example I have says “Lund Patentee”).  Since the only thing I was sure of was that we had an American patent from August 10, issued in a year probably ending in the number 8, there was only one resource I knew of that could help:

(P.S. – the book is still available at

I thumbed through the section organized by date and number.  Since patents are only issued on Tuesdays in the United States, that narrowed my search and within a minute, I had found my answer.  It’s a patent I’ve written about here before:

Austin G. Day’s patent for a method of making “caoutchouc,” or hard rubber, was issued on August 10, 1858 (see for more on the Day story). The patent completes the puzzle nicely, and my “Lund” bears an imprint that reads “PATENT AUG 10 58 A.G.DAY.”

That’s one mystery solved, but another question raised.  We know from the history of Austin G. Day’s invention that it was issued shortly after Nelson Goodyear’s 1851 patent was posthumously “reissued” in 1858 and that a flurry of litigation between Day and Goodyear’s estate quickly resulted in a court holding that Day’s innovation was actually covered under the umbrella of Goodyear’s 1851 patent.

That means this pencil was made sometime between late 1858 and 1860.

In America.

While William Lund was awarded an English patent in 1856.  

Was there an American branch of the Lund operations?  Was there any relationship between William Lund and Austin G. Day (or whoever commissioned this pencil to be made from his compound)?  No patent appears to have been awarded in the United States for the Lund design:

I don’t know.


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