Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Word About Wahl's Military Clip

Joe Nemecek brought this one along to show off in DC:

This is truly a pristine example of a Canadian Wahl Eversharp:

Note that the imprint, like the English Eversharps, doesn’t include the Wahl name:

But this article isn’t about the pencil itself. It’s about that interesting top-mounted clip, which is referred to as a "military clip" because it permits the pencil to sit deeply in the pocket without sticking out – suitable for use with a military uniform.

A few months ago, someone posted a question concerning that military clip in the Eversharp forum over at Fountain Pen Network, and I thought I’d lend a hand by quoting chapter and verse from The Catalogue and rattling off the patent information. One problem with that: I opened up The Catalogue and found that I’d never mentioned the military clip!

So with many apologies, and a very belated responsive post to Fountain Pen Network, the Wahl military clip was patented by John C. Wahl, Hugo S. Hasselquist and Arthur F. Poole, who applied for their patent on September 30, 1918 and were granted patent number 1,334,332 on March 23, 1920:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Now That We've Got The Name

Back on September 21, when I was talking about Rite-Rite "Torpedo" Pencils, I’d included an image of the Rite-Rite trademark. I’ve got a confession to make about that: I never would have found it without a little help from Syd Saperstein, aka "The Wahlnut" on Fountain Pen Network. I’d posted those pictures over on FPN, and Syd casually mentioned, just in case I didn’t know, that Rite-Rite was established by Hyman Golber.

Once I had an unusual name like Hyman Golber to hook up with the search term "Rite-Rite," it was as if the clouds parted. Finding that trademark went from "wouldn’t that be nice to know" to "oh there it is" in a matter of seconds. And the trademark wasn’t the only thing I found!

Here’s a pencil I found some time ago:

This is an all wood pencil, with a removable nosecone similar to an Autopoint or a Dur-O-Lite, but working in reverse with the push rod inside the barrel:

Under very strong light, you can barely make out the Rite Rite logo impressed into the wood:

After I found that imprint, it was fairly easy to place this one. Here’s a picture of it next to the more refined version that was pictured on page 127 of The Catalogue:

I had suggested that the construction of this pencil suggested a connection with Charles Keeran. I was wrong. Check out patent number 1,496,158:

Hyman E. Golber himself applied for a patent for this design on September 15, 1921, and the patent was issued on June 3, 1924. This is significant in two respects: first, Golber wasn’t just a guy in a suit setting up a company to market someone else’s idea – he was the idea man, too.

Second, and more significantly from my perspective, is the timing of this patent application. The American Stationer reported that "a new pencil, the Rite-Rite . . . has made its appearance in Chicago" on November 4, 1922:

Golber filed his trademark application for "Rite-Rite" on June 23, 1922. His patent application was filed only nine months earlier, and Rite-Rite’s first pencil was introduced just a few months later.

This is the original Rite-Rite.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My New Mascot

Pencils with the name "Mascot" on the clip don’t get much respect from collectors. Usually, they are tacky-looking gold plated numbers, often times with an equally tacky looking plastic "jewel" mounted on the top. Occasionally you might find a hand painted, but it will still be hand painted over a tacky looking gold plated number with an equally tacky looking plastic jewel on top. Lipstick on a pig, as the saying goes.

However, when I saw this one I knew I had to have it:

Yeah, I know. It’s a tacky-looking gold plated number, isn’t it? At least there’s no jewel on top. You’re probably wondering, as glowingly as I speak of the lowly Mascot, what’s got me all stirred up about this one. Obviously, it wasn’t the pencil that interested me, but the paperwork that came with it:

Really? 101 uses for a pencil? I had to google that, just for grins, and I’m not sure that was a good idea. There’s some really sick puppies out there in cyberland. But even as intriguing as a pencil with a hundred uses plus one, that wasn’t the exciting part for me. Here’s the inside of the paperwork – read it all the way to the bottom:

Aha! The Mascot was made by Apex Products, makers of the "Magic Multiplying Pencil" and Ely Culbertson’s Bridge Scoring Pencils ("Every Time I Think I’ve Found The Apex, There’s Another," December 29).

Finding that connection reminded me that I had some pictures of another Apex Magic Multiplying Pencil to show you – one with a twist, and not the upper barrel kind. It’s the smaller sized one:

But there’s a surprise at the other business end:

Now that’s an awful lot of work to put into making an ordinary wooden pencil, isn’t it?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Scoping Around For Some More Information

Sometimes, after one of my stories runs here at the blog, I’ll get an email that gives me more pieces to the puzzle that I just haven’t been able to find. On those occasions when I thought I knew the whole story but didn’t, that can be a little embarrassing. But I don’t mind, since I never would have learned the story if I hadn’t lobbed something out there.

This is not one of those times. This is an occasion where I’ve got some random information but I just don’t feel like I’ve been able to connect the dots yet, so if anyone out there has the scoop to tell, I’d love to hear it.

Here are the pencils:

They don’t look much like pencils, do they? I usually find these in junk boxes, and both of these came from the Scott Antique Market last fall – does that tell you how long I’ve been struggling with these? Here’s what they look like when they are extended:

Most of these look like this on the end, stamped "Writescope Pat.Pend.":

But the other one in this pair is marked "J.L. Patent Pending":

And there are other variations on these. At the DC show in August, I ran across another example, marked "Risdon Patent Pending":

Another variation surfaced at the Springfield Antique Market over the summer, but I didn’t have the stomach to pay eighteen bucks for the thing (especially when I asked her if she could do any better, and her response was that no, she couldn’t). Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name that was on it, only that the brass case was wrapped in leather. I tried to take a picture of it with my smart phone, but when I got home I discovered that my phone was so smart that it focused in on the hangnails on my thumb rather than on the end of the pencil, which was too out of focus to read. Way to go, Einstein!

The point is, there’s a lot of these out there, and a lot of variations, so you’d think there would be a lot of information out there concerning who made them, right? Unfortunately, the only thing I’ve been able to turn up is a little blurb in the April 1, 1950 issue of Billboard Magazine:

So the Writescope was offered by Princess Eve Products, and "Jay-Ell" produced, not suprisingly, the J.L. There’s also mention of a Rubicon, a "Cute" (made by Temple Manufacturing), and the "Sterl-Write" by Sterl-Art Novelty. No mention of Risdon, but I did find an interesting headline in the May 21, 1952 issue of the Naugatuck (Connecticut) Daily News:

I came up empty-handed in the patent databases, which might mean a patent was never issued, or it might also mean that one was issued, but with a title that describes the innovation using some word combination I haven’t tried.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Can You Repeat That?

I picked this on e up in DC, thinking it might be an early Dunn or Selfeed, either of which would have made my day:

But on closer examination, it was neither – in fact, it was much better:

"Nupoint Repeater Patent Pending." Wow! The good news about this one was that I got it on the cheap . . . the bad news was that the reason it was cheap was that it isn’t working . . .

And the good news is that makes it easier to take apart and compare it to other pencils. Here’s a Selfeed disassembled:

No comparison. I’ve not been able to track down the Nupoint patent for this one yet, so all I can report to date is that I haven’t seen anything else like it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

You'll Flip Your Top For These

Joe Nemecek’s looking for one of these now, and I promised I’d keep an eye out for one for him. I have, but I haven’t found one that’s a duplicate yet. This one turned up in DC, and I just couldn’t part with it:

It’s a Nupoint, and this one is just cherry. The clip bears a strong resemblance to the clip used on early Parker "Lucky Lock" pencils:

But what attracted Joe to it, and what also intrigues me, is the unique pivoting top. I’ve not been able to find a patent for this little feature, but there’s got to be one out there somewhere:

I did find a few other neat metal pencils in DC. Here’s an "Advance," which is identical to the Salz made "Manhattan," right down to the pattern:

And here’s a "Hi-Speed." There’s a full size version in The Catalogue, but I didn’t know it also came in a ringtop:

Last (for now), here’s one marked "ALCo." Since the American Lead Pencil Company’s acronym was "A.L.P. Co.," I think this is probably Aikin Lambert Company:

All these have one thing in common:

The fact that an Aikin Lambert example turned up with this flip top might finally provide the answer I’ve been looking for. A while back I did stumble across this notation in the November 18, 1922 edition of The American Stationer (page 22):

The first time I read this, I wasn’t convinced that the person writing it really knew the answer to the question, because "No doubt this is the same pencil" doesn’t sound very conclusive. Now that I’ve found a flip top pencil marked Aikin Lambert, though, I’m inclined to agree.

There was another question about Nupoint on that very page of The American Stationer:

"Midget" Nupoints, made at another Aikin Lambert facility located at 3 Dey Street, New York instead of 163 Front Street? So what is a "midget" Nupoint? I think I know . . .

The sterling silver example at the top is a standard sized ringtop pencil. Those tiny ones, while lacking the flip top found on their bigger brothers, nevertheless bear the family name:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do Two Centuries Make a Bicentennial?

One of the pencils Joe Nemecek brought with him to DC for me to photograph was this one. That was our deal when he called dibs in the online auction: he gets the pencil, I get to photograph it:

Joe’s pencil is stamped "Century Pen Company Whitewater Wis." on the side:

As I’d mentioned earlier here ("Auction of The Century," November 21), the history of the Century Pen Company and its relationship to Parker is somewhat shadowy. The one thing I was relatively sure of was that Century must have closed sometime in the 1920s.

Or did they? Here’s a pencil that popped up in an online auction a few months ago:

The streamlined profile, the snakeskin plastic, the clip – all these elements scream late 1930s or early 1940s, and if it weren’t for the imprint, I’d swear this one was an Eagle or Epenco:

But here’s the imprint:

I’d think it possible that the name "Century" might have been appropriated by someone else, were it not used in conjunction with the Whitewater address. Looks like Century was still in business much later than I had previously thought.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Closing Out In Style

The Eversharp Skyline Press Clip I is a relatively common pencil. Here’s the picture from page of The Catalogue:

Recently, I couldn’t help but splurge on this:

This store display card, shown as it came to me, had all but two of the spots filled with pencils. I didn’t mind, since it showed off the two alternating messages behind them:

"I’ve been sold" and "Gone to work." Pretty cool. And that woman with the amazed look on her face?

That’s Ann Sothern, a comedienne along the lines of Lucille Ball, and the name of her movie and radio character was "Maisie." Eversharp, which by the 1940s was behind the curve in practically everything else, was nevertheless out in front as far as radio and television sponsorship, most notably with its sponsorship of the game show"Take it or Leave it" with host Phil Baker:

"Take it or leave it" ran from 1940 to 1947, but Phil Baker became the show’s host in 1941. The Ann Sothern reference helps to date these pencils to within just a couple of years:

"The Adventures of Maisie," starring Ann Sothern, was on CBS from 1945 to 1947. Sothern starred in dozens of movies during a decades-long career, earning her only Academy Award nomination (for best supporting actress) in her last film, The Whales of August, in 1988. She died in Ketcham, Idaho in 2001, at the age of 92.

But the Ann Sothern reference isn’t what had me flipping for this piece. Included on the card were these two:

Not one demi-sized example in gray, but two! For some reason, grey examples in the Skyline series, and particularly the demi-sized ones, are pretty tough to come by. I’ve been looking for one to complete my set of the Press Clip I variants for years, and these even have price "disks" under the clip:

Unless these start turning up in some colors I’m not aware of, that closes out this set!