Monday, March 18, 2013

The Clips Tell the Story

Note: this is a followup to two articles posted at and

.As I was writing the articles on the demise of the Tri-Pen Manufacturing Company (makers of the original Triad) a few weeks ago, I was at a severe disadvantage. Not only was I lacking an example of the Triad, but I’d never even been close enough to one to handle one. I was on the phone with Joe Nemecek several times, asking him to look at this or that on his Triads, to make sure that everything I said about the pencils themselves was accurate.

I asked Joe to bring his Triads to the Baltimore Show for me to photograph separately from the later triangular pencils made by the Triangle Pen Company, because future editions of The Catalogue will have separate entries for the two types:

The opportunity to handle these gave me some additional insight into these rare pencils. Here’s the imprint that is found on all of these – some say Pawtucket, others say Providence, but they are all identical:

And the interesting patented triangular pencil top wasn’t used on all of these Triads:

There is no "earlier" and "later" tops here – both tops appear on earlier Providence and later Pawtucket examples.

But what I really appreciated getting to see up close was the clips. I had assumed that the clips on earlier Tri-Pen products were different from those found on the later Triangle Pen Co. Pencils, but when I compare one of Joe’s Tri-Pen Triads with a Triad-marked Triangle Pen Co. from my collection:

They are essentially identical. Which has me already circling back around to my "Transfiguration of Triad" article to make an adjustment.

Remember from what I wrote earlier that Tri-Pen disappeared in 1932. In 1932, the arrow clip seen on later Triangle Pen Co. pencils turns up on a design patent issued to Mabie Todd’s Vice President, and Mabie Todd uses the same clip from the 1930s until the company finally folded in 1941.

What I now know from examining Joe’s Tri-Pen Triads is that Tri-Pen owned the clip and sold the rights to use it to Mabie Todd in 1932 when Tri-Pen closed its doors. When Mabie Todd collapsed in 1940-1941, the clip became available again, so the former President and Sales Manager of Tri-Pen formed a new company called the Triangle Pen Co. and started turning out these later, cheaper advertising pencils.

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