One of the first articles I wrote here at the blog, back on November 10, concerned Newton Crane’s Self Sharpening Pencil Company and the partially stocked display case that turned up at a garage sale in Cambridge, Massachusetts just days after The Catalogue was published. At that time, these were the only examples of the pencil I’d ever seen, and all were painted in pastel colors.
But then along came Tanya Hiles with this one:
This one is similar to the larger one shown back on November 10, complete with the imprint on the barrel and the 1912 patent date on the crown:
Yes, the color on this one is more masculine, but that wasn’t the reason I wasn’t about to let it go. You’ll recall that the real novelty of the Self Sharpening Pencil – and in fact, the feature that probably doomed the pencil – was Crane’s proprietary triangular-shaped lead. While the smaller examples had abandoned the triangular lead in favor of a standard round .046 inch (1.1 millimeter) lead, the larger one in my possession was equipped to handle the triangular lead. Unfortunately, however, the pencil was empty, and I was hoping this one would have a piece of lead in it.
No such luck, but it did have a couple other interesting features. First, in addition to the 1912 patent date, this one also says "Patent Pending":
But the real surprise, at least for me, came when I went to put the pencil away in the box with it’s siblings. Turns out it wouldn’t fit:
Whaddaya know . . . three sizes!