Monday, February 20, 2012

Eight Days a Week: The Eagle Simplex

I thought about calling it quits after 7 days of "Eagle Week" so that it would actually be an even week, but I've got a couple more neat things to write about concerning Eagle Pencil Company. 

On page 46 of The Catalogue, you'll find pictures of the Eagle "Simplex."  Since that was taken, I've found a couple more:

The yellow ones are marked "527 Simplex Pat. App. For."  The one in the center with the gold plated barrel and integrated clip is unmarked.  The large ones in maroon swirl, green swirl and pink swirl are marked "Simplex Sr. Eagle Pencil Co. 534" - the maroon and pink ones read "Pat. Appl. For" on the lip of the cap, while the green one is printed thus on the barrel. 

The Simplex really pushes the boundaries of what constitutes a mechanical pencil.  Here's a picture of the Simplex disassembled, next to a Pencraft of similar construction:

As the wood barrel is screwed into the cap, the lead bumps against the fixed rod in the cap.  The lead never moves; the barrel simply shortens around it.   Although I'm not normally a combo guy, this one I just couldn't resist:

That's right -- Eagle even adapted the Simplex to a combo!

The Simplex is such a -- well -- simple concept that I had wondered, given that examples were found with either "Pat. Appl. For" or no markings at all, whether a patent was ever granted for it at all.

Until I found this example on ebay a couple months ago:

What attracted me to this one was the absence of any metal tip on the end of the pencil, and it is an all-wood lower barrel.  But when I received the item, I received another bonus.  Unfortunately, the paint on these is almost always worn by screwing the barrel in and out of the cap, but this one still has a legible imprint:  Patent Number 1,683,235. 

Claes Boman and Charles Kaiser filed their patent application for the Simplex on May 17, 1922, but it took more than six years for the application to be granted.  No wonder all the ones I've found say patent applied for -- by the time the patent was finally granted, the Simplex would have been old news in the Eagle product lineup.

What's most noteworthy in this find is that it gives you an idea just how long Claes Boman's career with Eagle was.  Boman, whose name is largely lost to history, was patenting improvements to Eagle's drop pencils as early as 1884; 38 years later, he and Charles Kaiser were filing this application for the Simplex.  

Now that's a career.

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