Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Neatest Lighter Pencil I Never Heard Of

A few weeks ago, I was trolling about online and stumbled across a pencil I hadn't heard of before:

The clip reads "Lektrolite," and the color is really superb:

Underneath the cap is what appears to be the stub of an eraser:

but it looks like there might be more to it than just that:

and as it turns out, there is!  The "lite" ending to the name suggested to me that this might be a cigarette lighter, and armed with the patent date of February 28, 1933 imprinted on the upper section, here's what I found:

Richard Berthold's patent, assigned to Cardinal Products, Inc., was for a "flameless" lighter, which could light a cigarette by pressing it against a block of "platinum black, spongy platinum or the like," in which was trapped vapor from pure methanol alcohol.

As if cigarettes weren't bad enough for you.

What amazed me was that once I started searching around for information about the Lektrolite, I was surprised that I hadn't heard of it before.  The lighters, both in pencil form and as regular lighters, were heavily advertised in the 1930s, and it appears that the name is more frequently encountered by vintage lighter collectors than us pencil enthusiasts.

A few of these have been surfacing lately, though.  Here's an example that turned up at an online auction recently, complete with the box:

"The Mystery lighter in a Propel-Repel Pencil."  Ignore the pen, which is an Eversharp Symphony and not at all related to the pencil or the box.  Thanks to the folks at Liveauctioneers.com, who let me use this picture if I said:

"Image courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and B.S. Slosberg, Inc., Auctioneers."  Sigh.  This is why I'd rather buy a pencil than borrow a picture.


Anonymous said...

Yours look unused. I guess that by now you know how to light it, but in case, you have to take off the rubber covering the platinum mesh.

Jon Veley said...

Hey there, thanks for the post. I wouldn't want to light it (too much flammable celluloid around), but I appreciate the tip!

Anonymous said...

This is funny: "CHROME TOP OPENS TO LEAD HOLDING CACHE WITH A FELT LINED INSERT PIECE, I'M GUESSING TO KEEP THE LEADS FROM BRAKING." http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-30s-40s-lektrolite-pencil-not-bakelite

Don't worry about flame, is flameless, but don't try to light it sucking yourself or you will provably inhalate methanol, better use some pump.