Whenever I stop by Richard Vacca's table, I try to make sure I've got plenty of time to look at everything, because I always miss things. If Joe Nemecek hadn't asked me why I passed up on the red bumblebee Eversharp dollar pencil at his table in Baltimore, I never would have seen it -- and a red bumblebee pencil hiding on a table is like a rhinocerous hiding behind a tree!
I made several swings by Richard's table while we were in Raleigh, and I don't think I caught this one in my first pass:
The pencil is very attractive but is entirely unmarked, except for Richard's price sticker:
"Redwood grain pencil Swanberg clip." I was intrigued. Swanberg is one of those great obscure brands you hardly ever see -- kind of like seeing a Kaiser at an antique car show. But as I mentioned before, this one was unmarked other than Richard's sticker. So I had to ask him, how does he know this is a Swanberg?
"Oh I'm sure somebody must have told me that," he said.
"Really?" I asked. "Who?"
"Well YOU probably did," he said. Now that was an answer I wasn't expecting, because I'd never seen this pencil before and I think I'd remember talking about it with Richard. And then it dawned on me . . .
I went back to my table and opened The Catalogue to page 155, where I found this picture of the Swanbergs I had at home:
See that second one from the bottom, in red hard rubber? It's sporting an accommodation clip (a later Van Valkenberg) marked "Swanberg," the only markings on it. While ordinarily I'd hedge my diagnosis a bit by saying the clip could have been moved over from another pencil, in this case this pencil shares the identical design to the aluminum pencils above it (all clearly marked Swanberg), the only difference being its execution in hard rubber. No question: it's a Swanberg.
So I paid Richard the little bit more than I wanted to for his pencil and brought it home to compare them side by side:
Yep. A dead ringer. Looks like I did tell Richard his pencil was a Swanberg!