Thursday, June 28, 2012

The "Other" Stuff Edgar Had

After my initial purchase of Edgar Nichols' Tri-point collection, Bill Adams contacted me a few weeks later to tell me that he had finished sorting through the rest of Edgar's things, and there were a bunch of other pencils in there, mostly other Nichols Products Corp. things, but with some other odds and ends in there as well.  He sent me some pictures, we haggled lightly, and I brought the rest back.  I just couldn't bear the thought of breaking up this group, and fortunately for me I don't think Bill could, either.

Here's one of the non-Nichols pencils that was in there:

This is a Gordon, which from the very beginnings of the Mechanical Pencil Museum I have always identified as my absolute favorite. 

Why?  Because that big, clunky clip has a vicious little secret underneath it:

William Gordon's clip, first patented in 1931, had "fangs" on the underside which were supposed to secure the pencil (or pen) in your pocket securely.   Pressing downwards on the loop at the top would retract the fangs and allow the pencil to come out of your pocket without taking part of your shirt pocket with it!

This Gordon is very different from all the others in my collection.  Here's a shot of the others I've managed to find:

Notice that the barrel on the new addition has a more pronounced taper towards the tip, and rather that being made of plastic, it's made of heavy bakelite.  But what I find even more unusual is the manner in which the clip is secured.  Instead of being inserted into a slot in the barrel, there's a recess carved into the barrel, and the trim ring acts to secure the clip in place:

But the best part of this story is that this wasn't the only Gordon in Edgar's hoard:

Now what on earth, you may legitimately inquire, is that?  Well, it's about the size of a hot dog, and like the pencil, it's made from a heavy chunk of bakelite.  The cap unscrews:

To reveal nothing inside.  It's too big inside to be a thermometer case or single cigarette case, although I suppose a small cigar would fit nicely inside.  

So Edgar Nichols had two very early, very different examples of the Gordon in his collection, and I'm thinking this might be no coincidence.  A later example of the Gordon that I've found indicates that they were made in Union City, New Jersey, just 80 miles up the New Jersey Turnpike from the Nichols Products Corporation in Moorestown, New Jersey.   Two inventors, at the same time and only 80 miles between them?  I'm thinking it's likely they met!

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