Saturday, November 3, 2012

What The??

There’s a guy who has been set up every month I’ve attended the Springfield Antique Show. In the busy months, like the Extravaganza weekends, he’s in the same place as he is during the off months, when he looks like he’s been stranded aground ‘way out there after the tide went out. He has display cases out in the direct sunlight, and only recently – after many of his pencils had warped into writing instruments suitable for a Salvador Dali painting thanks to the heat – did he think to keep the lids propped open a bit to prevent his wares from cooking.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a really nice guy and I have bought some things off of him over the years. This summer I found something on his table that I just haven’t been able to explain. Here’s the pencil part:

The business end of it is a simple leadholder. Screwing the nozzle on tightens those prongs around a piece of lead:

The pencil part fits into a holder about five inches long, covered in a canvas like material. It’s reversible, so you can insert it either way:

On the side of the holder there’s some advertising:

"Jas. A. Seidel Blue Island, Ill."  But the most interesting thing about this piece to me is the top:

I haven’t been able to track down what sort of business Mr. Seidel was engaged in, and a google search reveals that there were and still are an awful lot of Seidels living in Blue Island (it’s a substantial suburb of Chicago). My best guess of what this pencil could be is that it is meant to be an umbrella figural, with the handle missing – the next time I was in Springfield I made a point to paw through that dealer’s cases again looking for something that might have gotten separated from this, but with no luck.

Any other guesses?

UPDATE: Dale Yessler, dedicated blog reader and full-time good egg, directed my attention to Pendemonium’s website (, where a fully intact example is offered for sale. Sam and Frank Fiorella, the owners of Pendemonium, allowed me to reprint pictures of their example, closed:
And open, to reveal the dip pen at the end of the umbrella "handle":
  Thanks, Dale, Sam and Frank!


Anonymous said...

Jon, it reminds me of the gadgets used for making tubular laces, or "French knitting." Is the body hollow all the way through?

Mike Hungerford

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jon. I think you have part of a figural pencil designed to look like a closed umbrella (the nails simulate the ribs of the umbrella. The examples I have seen have a handle which holds a dip pen.

Dale Yessler

Anonymous said...

Folks, we have a winner! Good eye, Dale, that example you directed me to over at Pendemonium answers the question!

Jon Veley