Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Even Greater Public Service

When I first established my website and started posting pages at my "Mechanical Pencil Museum," one of my earliest pages concerned the "Pato," which also appears at page 118 of The Catalogue:

I have characterized this as a public service announcement, for all those online sellers out there who have advertised "Pato" pens or pencils. The mistake happens frequently enough that I felt compelled to put something out there in cyberland – so that it would be found using the search engines – to let sellers know that it’s not "Pato" . . .

It’s Patd. As in "patented."

Over the years, I occasionally get emails from random sellers, to thank me for this bit of information and preventing them from making the same mistake so many others have made. I’d have to say, out of all the pages I’ve posted, I’ve made more friends out of this one than any other.

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, I’m going to tell you the rest of the story.

See, these Patd clips appear on literally hundreds of lower tier pencils (and pens, for that matter). As an example, here’s a couple more well known brands:

From top, these are a Parker Parkette, an Eagle (note that instead of "Patd," this one says "Canada"), and a Majestic (made by J. Harris & Co.). But I’ve never been able to track down the patent or who was responsible for producing the clip. Yeah, I knew it was probably in George Kovalenko’s book somewhere, but figuring out which clip patent was the right one would be finding a needle in a several-hundred-page haystack.

That brings me to the other day, when I was photographing the Realpoint featured in yesterday’s article. I noticed that the Realpoint also used the Patd clip, but it wasn’t until I was checking my closeup photographs of the clip that I noticed something different about this one:

Not just Patd, but Pat. No. 83672!  At last, the inventor of the famous Pato would be revealed! Since the patent was a five digit number, it looked like a design patent, and there it was:

Design patent number 83672 was applied for on December 31, 1930 and was granted on March 17, 1931 . . . to Harry Esterow (who also invented the clip from "The Pencil In The Iron Mask" articles from April 2 and August 3).

So I went back to George’s book, and sure enough, there it was, plain as day – now that I knew where to look for it! And while I was there, I also noticed that George listed another design patent, number 83671, applied for and issued the same dates, also to Esterow:

There you have it . . . Harry Esterow, inventor of one of the most common design elements in American writing instruments, and probably one of the most famous people in pens and pencils that you never heard of.

And as I’m thinking fondly of listening to the AM Radio in my car during high school, I’m hearing Paul Harvey say "now you know the rest of the story."

Almost, that is . . . there’s one more bit I’ll save for tomorrow . . .

1 comment:

Joe said...

Nice piece of research, Jon!