Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Little Piece of Chicago

At the Chicago show, this cute little ringtop caught my attention, just because I liked the look of it:

"Pratt Food Co. W.L. Hill, Jr." This pencil has classic Chicago lines, with a squared off top and that black band around the nose. It appears to have been made by National Pen Products in Chicago, but there’s another imprint on the other side:

"Welty’s." At times like these, it’s both a blessing and a curse to have one of those brains packed with useless bits of information, kind of like a garage filled with spare parts you keep because you might need them someday. I knew I’d heard that name before, and I thought it was in a pen magazine article I’d read a few years back.

So I dug out my stack of Pen World magazines and started digging, and I finally found what I remembered: in the February/March 2004 issue, Michael Fultz wrote an excellent article titled "Welty on his Way," providing a fairly comprehensive history of the exploits of William A. Welty (1873-1958), first as founder of The William A. Welty Company of Waterloo, Iowa, which he founded in 1905 and left in 1915, then later in Chicago, where he founded William A. Welty & Co. of Chicago around 1920. Although Fultz indicates that Welty returned to Waterloo in 1925 to form the Waterloo Pen Company, he also indicated that a 1927 catalog for Norris, Alister-Ball Co. of Chicago advertised Welty pens – and pencils!

I haven’t been able to lay my hands on that catalog, but I bet if I ever do, this little guy is pictured in it!

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