Friday, November 9, 2012

The Pencil Formerly Known as Prince?

I’ve had a few of these over the years, and sadly I let them all go, because the pencil itself is pretty unremarkable:

And the only marking appears to be what looks like the letter W, or maybe an M.

This one’s a little better than usual, as it’s sterling silver and marked "Patent Pending":

But that’s not why I bought the pencil, and it’s not the reason why I now regret letting so many others slip through my fingers into the junk boxes that I’ve long since sold. It’s because there’s more to the story, and this example gave me a tantalizing clue that there’s much more to this one than meets the eye. This one was in the original box:

And it proves that it isn’t an M or a W that’s on these pencils, but something else:

Best I can tell, the symbol appears to be the uppercase letter sigma. It could simply stand for the letter "S" (its comparable equivalent in English), but it is also used in a variety of scientific and engineering contexts. Running through the list of possible uses along these lines, the only one that isn’t so obscure that only an engineer or chemist would recognize it (and therefore, waaaay over my head) is a mathematical function – meaning, the sum total.

So how to search for more information? Do I look under sigma pencil? Nuthin, unless you count the cosmetics pencils under that name. Sum? Zilch. "The Pencil formerly known as Prince?" Heck, even Prince gave up on using an unpronouncable symbol instead of his name. And a trademark search? Under what?

Anybody got one of these with paperwork that might solve this one?

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