Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DeWitt-LaFrance Roundup

Although I’ve listed several variations of pencils made by DeWitt-LaFrance in The Catalogue (pages 36 to 38), I didn’t list them all. Here’s another one:

This one is marked "Redypoint/S.Ward Co. Patent Pending"

I’m sure the good folks at Brown & Bigelow, makers of the "Redipoint" pencil, were not amused with the name! But that interesting bit of trademark piracy is not at the most interesting part of this pencil. In the Catalogue, I’d identified the Samuel Ward Co. as the probably manufacturer of DeWitt-LaFrance’s earliest pencils, since Ward was an established company in the area at the time DeWitt-LaFrance was just getting started. This one appears to support that theory; since both the barrel of the pencil and the clip are marked Patent Pending, we know this pencil was made prior to 1920 (the clip was patented in 1920; the pencil itself, not until 1922).

Which brings me to the point of settling a discussion I had at the Michigan show once and for all. Someone, and I don’t remember who, was telling me that the Laughlin Pen Company of Detroit invented the clip which was later used on Carter pencils (and which is also the one shown on today’s Redypoint), a point with which I disagreed completely. Just to set the record straight once and for all, here is the patent for the clip:

David J. LaFrance and William P. DeWitt applied for this patent on September 13, 1918, and it was granted as number 1,350,412 on August 24, 1920. Now if there is another very similar clip that Laughlin invented, that might be another matter, but the clip Carter used was definitely the one invented by DeWitt and LaFrance.

With that settled, I’ve got just a couple more DeWitt-LaFrance pictures to share. Here’s a shot of a couple "Superite Jr." pencils, shown next to a regular-sized ringtop:

And at the Columbus show last year, I found a "Signet" brand example in red hard rubber to go with my black one:

I think that about covers it – at least for now!

1 comment:

George Kovalenko said...

That person at the Michigan show shouldn't have been so insistent that the Laughlin Pen Co. invented the clip later used on Carter's pencils, but he wasn't far off. Actually, it was the other way round. De Witt–La France Co. made pens for Laughlin Pen Co., Carter's Fountain Pen Co., and pencils for Samuel Ward Co. SaWaCo was just a stationery company that had others making their products for them. And Carter's fountain pens were made for them by De Witt–La France using the pen patents and stock parts from Laughlin, and the De Witt–La France clip patent.

And by the way, I noticed that you didn't have any Laughlin pencils in your book.

George Kovalenko.