Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Ones I Picked Up . . .

As I mentioned a few days ago, the Philadelphia Show was the event at which I finally had an hour or two to really study the things on Andy Beliveau’s table. And I didn’t just study and chat, either – I actually brought home a few Victorian "magic" pencils from Andy’s table. Here’s the ones I brought home from Philly, five of which came from Andy. As for the sixth, I don’t remember which one that was or where I got it:

Starting from the top, the first one is in sterling:

The mark is pretty difficult to see, both because it’s small and because it’s stamped into an area that already has a lot going on. The logo is for F.T.Pearce:

The second is marked only on the top section:

"Pat. Feb.6,72." The patents were pretty easy to track down. John H. Knapp, of New York, New York, actually received two patents for pencils on February 6, 1872, number 123,485:

and number 123,486:

John H. Knapp was an early partner with John Mabie (Mabie Todd & Co.). According to David Moak’s book, Mabie in America, Mabie, Knapp & Johnston was formed in 1853; a year later, the name was changed to Mabie, Knapp & McGovern. By 1856, Knapp and Mabie had gone their separate ways, but as this pencil indicates, Knapp remained active in the business long after his association with John Mabie ended.

The third pencil down is a military piece, formerly belonging to "M.MacDonald, U.S.N.":

But that wasn’t the reason I bought this one – it was because of the tiny makers mark near the top of the case:

That H, with a W above the crossmember and an S below it, is the mark for W.S. Hicks, a high quality manufacturer better known for solid gold pieces, including many made for Tiffany. I thought it was unusual to see one in sterling, but I’m still pretty new at the Victorian thing.

The next pencil down is a fairly unremarkable Cross (that’s what AXT stands for):

But this one was in really nice shape, and I just love the intricate chasing you find on the barrels of these:

The next one is a great sterling piece. Even though it’s a little rough towards the nose end, the artistry and craftsmanship that went into this one is just wonderful:

On the rear extender, there’s an F in a shield, which is the trademark for Leroy W. Fairchild:

Fairchild is another of the early New York makers of dip pen nibs and other Victorian pieces. The company obviously turned out the occasional pencil, as well, and since the appearance of these is pretty distinctive, it looks like Fairchild at least had a hand in making their own products.

But I think it’s the last pencil that’s my favorite, and I do remember distinctly talking about this one with Andy. Check out that great basketweave pattern in the hard rubber:

The nose section on this one is in perfect condition:

But what really had me interested in this one was the imprint on the top section:

"Pearl Pat. Dec.5,71." That imprint was a subject of an earlier article here, back on January 9, 2012 ("Mother of Pearl . . . or the Mother of All Pearls?"). The December 5, 1871 patent date refers to Ephraim S. Johnson’s patent for a method of applying panels of mother of pearl to a pencil case. Johnson also applied for and received design patents for the outward appearance of his products, such as the gold filled and mother of pearl checkerboard pencil I wrote about here a few days ago.

And yet this pencil has no mother of pearl on it at all . . . and an intricate basketweave pattern in the hard rubber than I haven’t seen anywhere else. You’d think if ever there was a case for a separate design patent, it would have been for this!

1 comment:

Jon Veley said...

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