Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hey . . . Wait A Minute

Back on September 10, 2012, I wrote an article about the origins of the "Perfect Point" pencils, which I’d learned were made by the Stull-Bolyson Company of Fremont, Ohio. I made an offhand comment, towards the end of the article, that the "Acme" pencil was the Perfect Point’s identical twin:

Now that I’ve found this one in an online auction, I’m more inclined to call them cousins, rather than twins:

The imprint is the same as it appears on the other Acmes I’m used to seeing:

But this one has a plain ringtop, as opposed to the distinctive bail and the tiny button that unscrews from the top of the pencil:

I’d assumed that Acmes and Perfect Points were identical – I don’t know why I didn’t disassemble one at the time I wrote the Perfect Point article to make sure that the unusual spare lead container in the barrel of the Perfect Points was the same as what you’d find on the Acme, and it looks like I should have:

The new ringtop is shown with the top removed at the top of this picture. In the center is a typical Acme, which has just a button that unscrews with an eraser secured to it, but no spare lead magazine. At bottom is a Perfect Point, showing the button which screws into a spare lead magazine hidden inside the barrel.
A closer comparison of the Acme and Perfect Point buttons reveals another detail: the threads are finer on the Perfect Point. The two are not interchangeable:

In my previous article, I credited jeweler Max J. Averbeck, the man behind the "Acme," with good taste in selecting Stull-Boylson to manufacture his Acme, and thought that was why a Perfect Point advertisement of the time referred to the Perfect Point as "the jeweler’s pencil."

But now that I know that while the Acme and the Perfect Point look alike, the Acme doesn’t share the same features and the parts aren’t interchangeable, I’ve got to wonder: did Averbeck buy pencils or the rights to the Perfect Point design from Stull-Boylson, or did he steal it?

Personally, I still believe Stull-Boylson made the Acme. If Averbeck or whoever else made Averbeck’s pencils were going to reverse engineer and imitate another pencil, it’s hard to imagine that they would copy the obscure Perfect Point rather than some other, more recognizable brand. Stull-Boylson probably made the decision that if it’s name wasn’t going to be on the Acme pencils it made for Averbeck, the pencil wasn’t going to include all of the neat features that the Perfect Point possessed.

How else could "the jeweler’s pencil" compete with a pencil sold by a jeweler?

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