Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lamson Pencil Company

Here’s another from the "never heard of that one before" section of Tanya Hiles’ offerings:

This is an all metal pencil imprinted on the barrel "Pat. Nov. 22 ‘04 Pat. May 21 ‘07 The Lamson Pencil Co. Toledo, O.":

A tab within a slot on the side of the barrel moves either way to advance or retract the lead:

Does this sound familiar? Remember yesterday’s story about Fisher Lippincott’s "Push Point" pencil?

These patents were pretty easy to find. The first was applied for by John D.R. Lamson of Toledo, Ohio on June 17, 1904, and the patent was granted November 22, 1904 as number 775,493. That patent shows a metal sliding band, very similar to the last of Lippincott’s pencil patents:

Lamson applied for a patent for an improved design on April 9, 1906, which was granted as patent number 853,983 on May 21, 1907. His improved design looks a lot more like Lippincott’s earlier designs!

There was also a third design, for which Lamson applied for a patent on February 6, 1908 and which was granted on November 17, 1908 as number 903,873:

Other than the fact that Lamson made metal pencils while Lippincott’s preferred medium was wood, there isn’t much that separate these two from an engineering standpoint. Given the timeline of their respective patent applications, it’s hard to imagine that they didn’t each know what the other was up to – and the patent examiners would presumably have looked at them both. There’s no mention in Lamson’s first patent of Lippincott’s 1898 patent, although he does refer to his invention being an improvement on "that class of pencils in which detachable leads are inserted, suitable means being provided for holding the lead while the pencil is being used and for moving the same forward as it is worn away."

I don’t know much else about John D. R. Lamson. He shows up in the Toledo street guide as early as 1889, and he’s still showing up in Toledo in 1910. He wasn’t solely interested in pencils – in 1907, he also patented an unusual three-wheeled car (patent number 852,884). There was a Lamson Brothers store in Toledo for decades, well into the 1950s, but I don’t know whether John was one of the brothers Lamson.

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