Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hold the Phone

At the Chicago Show, in my waning days of "I’m not normally a wood pencil guy" denial, I just had to have this one.  Terry Mawhorter had it on his table:

The chrome plated holder contains a tiny Eagle Mikado pencil:

And with a great patent number on it, I knew there’d be more to the story:

Patent number 1,747, 674 was applied for by Henry J. Kaiser of Carlstadt, New Jersey on September 8, 1927, and was granted on February 18, 1930.

Kaiser’s patent was for the telephone dialer and in particular, the little – for lack of a better word -- "nipple" on the top of the dialer that keeps it from slipping out of the hole while you dial (where’s Leslie Nielson when you need him? "Every thing I see reminds me of her . . ."). Anyway . . .

What Kaiser’s patent didn’t answer for me was what was on the other end of that dainty chain:

Holy crap! Is this a phone dialer for making one free call from the dungeon? My imagination ran rampant with what such a large hook’s purpose could possibly be for a few months, until a chance find at an online auction revealed all. It cost a lot more than I wanted to pay but a lot less than I expected I might have to pay, but I was successful in bringing home a 1931 Eagle Pencil Company catalog. There, on page 59, is our pencil:

fitted, as it says, "with chain and telephone attachment." If you are having trouble visualizing how that hook would attach to a phone, remember we aren’t talking about a cell phone here, or even one of the boxy rotary phones with the heavy receiver. Look at the picture at the top of the page, and it makes sense:

Our pencil clamps neatly around the leg of a pedestal-style phone!

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