There’s something I want you to notice about that “sterling”(ish) Morrison ringtop from yesterday’s article: that little ring just beneath the cap:
A “tell,” I call it . . . a distinctive little feature that suggests connection with other brands. The diamonds around the crown are another one. I’ve come to believe that the Rex Manufacturing Company was quietly working behind the scenes making all of these, shortly before McNary’s patent launched the company onto its trajectory into “stardom,” in my little world.
Recently, a couple other ribbed pencils came my way. The first is this one:
The name on this one is “Wilrite” – another one that I thought had made the blog before, but I don’t see it.
I know I took pictures of one at the Baltimore Show, back when it was at the Tremont Grand. I don’t remember who had it, but it’s the full-size set along the same lines:
Inside the box lid, there’s a neat logo with “Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.” beneath it:
That’s a cue to check trademarks registered with the Patent Office, and the Wilrite trademark is included in American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953:
Gustave Rappeport, as Secretary and Treasurer of the Wilrite Fountain Pen Corporation, claimed that the company had used the mark since January, 1922, and the company’s address was 312-314 Lafayette Street, New York City as of the date of the application, January 23, 1925.
The trademark application must have been filed while the company was in the process of moving. A Wilrite advertisement for sales representatives in the Chicago Tribune on March 22, 1925 identified the company’s address as 1493 Broadway:
Morrison, according to the trademark filing in yesterday’s article, was offering pencils with that same little rib near the top just a few doors down, at 1547 Broadway. In fact, New York seems to be the common denominator for a lot of these:
The first two beneath the Wilrite have that same rib, but the top ends and crowns are different. You’ve seen them before: the “Bonnwear” (Volume 3, page 33 and most recently in Volume 6, page 25):
And the Ever-Rite (Volume 3, page 71). Note that the color of the cap is slightly different from the barrel, so I can’t say with certainty that it isn’t a replacement:
The Bonnwear and Ever-Rite have a Sheafferesque mechanism, which has led me back down that rabbit hole several times. The others, however, have caps that just pull off just like the Wilrite. From top to bottom, there’s a “Keene New York,” sporting a cap with diamonds around the crown, like the Morrison:
A “Just-Rite / P.S.M. Co” (see Volume 4, page 147), with those same diamonds:
A “Handy Pencil,” also with those diamonds:
And a “Newark Pen Co.,” with the same ribbing on the top as the Wilrite:
After these pictures were taken, another one surfaced in an online auction:
This one also has diamonds around the crown, and another shadowy imprint – “W.J.B.”:
I’m confident that the same firm made the ribbed pencils marked Morrison, Wilrite, Keene, Just-Rite, Handy Pencil, Newark Pen Co., and W.J.B. It definitely wasn’t Keene, because he was a jeweler, not a manufacturer (see Volume 5, page 285). I suspect it wasn’t Morrison or Newark Pen, since both were mainly in the pen business.
That leaves open the P.S.M. Co., maker of the “Just-Rite,” whoever this W.J.B. was, and whoever made the “Handy Pencil.”
Or someone else entirely. I haven’t given up on Rex as a possibility, but as of this writing I don’t have enough information.