Monday, September 10, 2012

A Perfect End To The Story

Here’s a beautiful little pencil that turned up at the Springfield Antique Show:

This is a "Perfect Point" (and yes, the name is in quotations):

This one has two floral engraved bands at either end, with a diagonal floral band that wraps around the pencil:

These ringtops have a unique shaped bail on the top, and Perfect Points have a neat little button on top that screws off.

I used to classify the Perfect Point among those pencils that once broken, there’s not much chance of repairing it. Fortunately (in a weird way), this one had a weld broken, so I was able to disassemble it and see what’s going on inside:

At the time I wrote The Catalogue (the Perfect Point is on page 120), I had a few examples with a tiny eraser under the cap, but now I now know that the erasers must have been added later, because the button actually covers the lead magazine, which has an eraser on the bottom end of it. I went back and pulled – rather than unscrewed – the buttons on my other examples, and they all have this same feature.

Now I’ve been looking to add a blogworthy example of the Perfect Point for awhile, because a couple months ago I stumbled across the key that unlocked the history of these neat little pencils and I’ve been chomping at the bit to tell you about it. While I was browsing around in the Pen Collector’s of America’s online library (what? You still haven’t joined?), there was an item in the "Other" section titled "Trademarks - 1922." One of them caught my eye:

I’d never heard of the Stull-Boylson Company, and look at that – from Fremont, Ohio (he said, swelling with Buckeye pride)! Better still, once I was armed with two fairly unusual names and the online patent databases, it didn’t take long to find the patent for the Perfect Point, applied for by Jacob Henry Stull of Fremont, Ohio on June 19, 1919 and granted on December 7, 1920 as number 1,361,115:

A couple other interesting details also came to light. Here’s an article from the November 2, 1922 issue of The Iron Age, in which the company announced that it was constructing a three-story manufacturing facility in Lima, Ohio, and would be moving their manufacturing to there from Attelboro, Massachusetts:

And on January 31, 1923, the company advertised stocked display cases for "the jeweler’s pencil" on a commission-only basis in The Jewelers Circular:

Since the patent for the Perfect Point was issued in 1920 and I’ve never seen one marked "Patented," either Stull-Boylson never changed the tooling on its products or the move to Lima proved to be a disastrous decision for the company.

While we’re talking about the Perfect Point, there’s another one we should address: the Perfect Point’s identical twin, the Acme, which appears on page 18 of The Catalogue:

The "Pencyclopedia" at
identifies M.J. Averbeck as the holder of the trademark "Acme" and states that he was a jeweler that wanted to offer a line of writing instruments. That was confirmed by the same document in the PCA library where I found the Stull-Boylson Company, which also had a listing for Acme:
If Averbeck’s Acme company was out of business by 1922, that explains why all of the Acmes are marked "Pat Pend." Max J. Averbeck may have had Stull-Boylson manufacture Perfect Points for him stamped with the Acme name on them, but Averbeck shouldn’t be written off as some mere hack. In 1902, he wrote a book titled "Fine Gold Jewelry, Solid Gold Jewelry, Sterling Silver," a copy of which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other similar publications. He was also a member of the executive committee of the National Wholesale Jewelers’ Association. In 1922, his office was listed at 2211 Broadway, New York.

When it came to finding a quality product to put the Acme name on, Averbeck as with everything else he did, had impeccable taste!

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