Friday, March 8, 2013

The Antipencil

I don’t know what the Weldon Roberts Rubber Company’s problem with us pencil guys was. Here’s a company from Newark, New Jersey, whose sole business purpose was to invent new and exciting ways to undo anything you could do with a pencil. Just take a look at this advertisement, from the December, 1922 issue of Office Appliances:

"If there is any need not provided for in this line we are not aware of it." Yep, this company prided itself on having thought of every conceivable way to get the lead out.  And that even included a wolf in sheep’s clothing – or actually, the eraser in pencil’s clothing:

These were the Weldon Roberts Jet Pencil Erasers, model number 825:

They were simple pencil shaped containers, and to advance the "unlead" you simply unscrew the front section, scoot the eraser up a little and then replace it. I kept these first two because I noticed that there were two kinds of clips offered with them – a standard accommodation clip, and a washer type clip that was built into the barrel. Both say "W R Jet" on them:

As I was preparing this article and started peeking around to see what else I could learn about the Jet, I ran across a listing for an online auction:

Unfortunately, the auction had ended just a week or so earlier with no bids. I emailed the seller to see if I could buy the item for this article – the answer was no, but he or she would give me the chance to buy it.

The seller relisted the item, I put in a bid, I waited for a whole stinkin’ week for the auction to close, and the auction ended with my one and only bid as the victorious one. Sigh. I suppose it was worth it, since these model 855 "Twin Jet" double-enders are pretty cool:

One end (the pink one) is for pencil lead, and the other side (gray) supposedly erases ink. Although all these refills are still soft enough for use, since they haven’t been used at all I decided not to try them out to see if they really work on ink. Note that both of these have the washer-style clips and thank goodness, there’s arrows to point you in the right direction as to which end to use:

But the coolest of these fiendish de-pencilers came in a three-piece set. A few of these have been popping up in online auctions lately, all in like-new condition:

This was the number 800 "Jet Trio" set, including erasers for pencil, ink and ballpoints:

Inside are a Jet Number 825 pencil eraser, a Jet 827 for ink, and a Jet 838 ballpoint eraser, the latter of which is more difficult to read since the lettering isn’t painted as it is on the other two:

And with these three Jets came three spare refills to keep you erasing for the foreseeable future. At least these guys had a sense of humor about their grisly task of undoing anything you could do with a pencil - or for that matter, with a pen, a typewriter or even a ballpoint pen:

"They Correct Mistakes in any Language."

But while Weldon Roberts could best anything that you could lay down on paper, they were themselves inevitably -- erased.  At some point, probably around 1968 or 1969, the company was sold to Faber-Castell, as these two examples indicate:

Note that these have yet a third different clip style, stapled into the barrel, and all trace of Weldon Roberts has been erased ... all, that is, except for the clip, which remains marked "W R Jet":

The sale of Weldon Roberts must have occurred when the company was still going by the name of A.W. Faber, as the other example indicates:

In fact, it indicates doubly so. Don’t adjust your monitor – this one’s double stamped!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have two of these Model 825's, one pink rubber, one grey for typewriter ink, which I bought in 1956 and have been using since then. Today I tried unsuccessfully to get a refill for the pink one and found this blog. Too bad they're gone.