Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Long Way Around The Barn

When I wrote the articles on the Tri-Pen Manufacturing Company and the Triangle Pen Company, the one thing I didn’t have on hand to show you was the V-Mail pencil that started it all. I came close to getting one when another example popped up in an online auction a couple weeks before the article was going to publish – excitedly, I bid crazy money on the lot of four pencils to ensure that I would get it, so my article would be complete . .
And I lost. Outbid in the final few seconds.

I knew I was partly responsible. I listed these as "Triads" in The Catalogue, and with more-than-usual hubbub at the Philly show about these, it’s easy to see how a small feeding frenzy over these would happen.

But the funny ending to this story comes at the Baltimore show, when Jim Carpenito says he’s got some things to show me:

Two of these have the V-mail logo on them - one has a clip, and the other does not:

The third is a little larger and has a different logo, which is consistent with my conclusion that these were made by the Triangle Pen Company after 1940:

I recognized them instantly by the discoloration on one side of each pencil as the ones from that online auction. It was tragic, really – Jim knew of our ongoing discussions about these pencils and had seen them in my book listed under "Triad;" I bid far more for them than they were worth just because I wanted them for an upcoming article; and the articles explained why I don’t think they were worth what people were charging for them.

I felt a sense of obligation to buy them from him for what he paid, packaging in a few other pencils in the deal to soften the blow for both of us. Here’s one of the others that was included:

It’s another Triangle Pen Co. pencil, in a really nice plastic:

I do have to correct one thing I wrote in my previous articles: I referred to these as "cheap nose drive pencils" on more than one occasion. The smaller V-mail pencils shown above fit that description, but the larger two that I got from Jim are in fact rear-drive.

And the red, white and blue Farm Bureau example, with its bullet-shaped top cap, looks suspiciously like it might have been made by Ritepoint . . . hmmm. . . another day, another research project . . .

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