Wednesday, February 27, 2013

From Whence Do You Come, O Ever Ready?

The American News Company advertisement from yesterday’s article, which rattled off a whole gaggle of trade names, answered a lot of questions about how several pen and pencil brands are related.

But it didn’t answer all of them.

For example, consider the "Ever Ready," one of the trade names American News Company was claiming as its own in 1922. Here’s an example that turned up at The Ohio Show year before last:

The Ever Ready appears on page 54 of The Catalogue, along with George Kovalenko’s comment that "Ever Ready" was a name used by the Edison Pen Company. I added my own comment that the earlier pencils appeared to be made by J.Harris Co. of New York, and the later ones appeared to be made by "Wearever." Here’s the picture of them from The Catalogue:

(Actually, as we now know, Wearever was a brand made by David Kahn, Inc. - so we should be saying they were made by David Kahn, Inc. It’s like a Honda Civic -- you wouldn’t say it’s made by "Civic," you’d say it’s made by Honda, wouldn’t you? But I digress, as usual . . . )

Getting back to the story, both George and I were absolutely right. I confirmed Edison’s use of the trade name twice since The Catalogue was printed, first from this notation in the PCA’s online library (What?? You still haven’t joined??), in the same 1922 listing of trademarks in which I found the "Perfect Point" and "Acme" trademarks:

And then I acquired a copy of Schneider and Fischler’s The Book of Fountain Pens and Pencils. On page 196, there’s pictures of four Edison Pen Company advertising blotters, three of which include metal pencils which are dead ringers for Hutcheon Finepointers (see the Hutcheon bookmark at right) and advertise the Edison Fountain Pen and . . . the Ever Ready Pencil.

What’s more, that Ever Ready logo is the same on that appears on the flattop pencil above, as well as on the clip of the top most example in this trio:

At page 54 of The Catalogue, I indicated that these appear to have been made by National. I have since learned that I was wrong, and pencils (and pens) that look like these were actually made by Mabie Todd during the early 1930s. David Moak has pictures of several pens and pencils of this type on page 176 of his book, Mabie in America: Writing Instruments from 1843 to 1941 (3rd Edition), and as Moak correctly points out, the design was the subject of design patent number 86,826, which was applied for by Herbert L. Carman, Mabie Todd’s Vice President, on February 9, 1932 and was granted on April 26, 1932.

I had though that due to the unique shape and deeply scalloped fluting on these three, there was no question that all three shared a common lineage:

But now I don’t think so. Notice how the very top of the two unmarked examples is skirted slightly, but the Ever-Ready marked example has no such waist? At the Scott Antique Market this month I found another pencil with that same center band and also lacking that skirting at the top:

And the clip leaves no doubt that at least some of these straight top examples were made by David Kahn, Inc.:

That’s the "DK" for David Kahn!

The later ones are more easily identified as David Kahn productions, as they each have twins marked "Wearever." On closer examination, all three of them have that same "Ever-Ready" logo on the clips:

But more importantly, each has "A.N.C." imprinted on it!

When I put this all together, here’s what I think happened:

1. Two companies can’t use the same trademark if it would create a "likelihood of confusion" as to which company made a particular product. If the Edison Pen Company was using the Ever Ready name on writing instruments in 1922, then American News Company, which was a general stationer and bookseller, must have been using its trademark "Ever Ready" on something other than writing instruments.

2. As was common among smaller pen companies, Edison Pen Company had other companies manufacture pencils to accompany its pens. From the early Edison advertisements, it looks like Hutcheon supplied metal pencils in the early to mid 1920s, with J.Harris & Co. possibly supplying plastic pencils beginning in the 1920s and David Kahn, Inc. beginning sometime after 1932, copying -- either with or without Mabie Todd's permission -- the basic design patented by Herbert Carman.

3. At the W-B Pens and Watches "Pencyclopedia," the writer suggests that Edison was saved from bankruptcy by Remmie Arnold around 1935, and Arnold continued to sell pens and pencils as the Southern Pen Company and Arnold Pen Company.

4. At some point in the late 1930s or 1940s, American News Company acquired the rights to use the Ever Ready name and logo on pens and pencils, either because they purchased those rights from Remmie Arnold or because the use of the name was abandoned after 1935.

All of this is new stuff, and all I can do is throw out there what I’ve learned and see what others can contribute to fill in the gaps. More information is welcome!

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