Early metal pencils are hard to collect, because at first glance they all look alike. Unlike brightly colored plastic or hard rubber pencils, they are all either gold or silver, and most share the same basic shape.
But as I was trolling around the DC show early on during Friday’s preshow, I stopped to spend a little quality time with one dealer’s display of metal pencils. They may all look alike at first, but this one practically jumped out of the box and into my hands, where it has remained ever since:
From yesterday’s article, you should instantly recognize the distinctive Heath clip:
But what had my hands shaking while I examined this one was its unusual size. Here it is, posed next to a Heath clip Eversharp:
I didn’t have my loupe with me, so I wasn’t sure yet exactly what I had – I only knew that I absolutely had to have it. I picked it out along with a few other ones and asked how much he wanted for them, but asking was just a formality. There was no haggling.
After I picked this one up I made a bee line back to my table to get my loupe and see exactly what I’d found. I knew it probably wasn’t an Eversharp, because it is a leadholder. Turning the knob one revolution or so releases the lead, and turning it back clamps it in place:
Under a loupe, I could just make out what was written above the clip:
The lettering is pretty faint, and it’s difficult to see even in this photograph, but the name engraved on the barrel is . . . Carey.
Now that’s really something! Carey Fountain Pen Company was located first in Boston, then in New York, from around 1908 until around 1915 or so. They are a very high quality, very highly desirable brand among pen collectors. The company made some stunning metal overlays, among the best you can find anywhere. I never knew that the company made pencils to accompany their pens, and from talking to others at the DC show, no one else did, either!
Or did they make them after all? When the crown is unscrewed to release the lead, I noticed some tiny lettering inside:
GWH Co., for the George W. Heath Co. So if Heath made Carey’s pencils, I’ve got to wonder . . . did Heath also make the overlays for their pens?