Monday, June 24, 2013

From the Mailbag: Roseville Novelty Works

Martha Nichols sent me an email with some pictures of an unusual pencil:

I vaguely remember seeing one of these a few years ago at the DC show, in a set complete with pen and box. Imprinted on the barrel are the words "Roseville Novelty Works / New York Pat. Pend."

Martha had already done some legwork trying to track down the history on this one. She wrote, "In the May 4th, 1921 issue of the journal The Jeweler's Weekly/The Jewelers' Review,
it was reported that Mr. Eben McCree, treasurer of the Roseville Novelty Works, was visiting Chicago for a few days to call on clients on his way further west to St. Louis and Kansas City."

I was able to add a little bit to the story, since a name like Eben McCree just begs to be googled:

Eben McCree, of Arlington, New Jersey applied for a patent for the unusual faceted barrel on this pencil on December 10, 1926, and his patent was granted as number 1,789,387 on January 20, 1931. McCree’s patent related to the manner in which strips of celluloid veneer were laminated to an inner, less expensive layer of material, as can be seen at the top of Martha’s pencil:

Beyond these sketchy details, I haven’t found out much about the Roseville Novelty Works, other than that the company was listed in the 1923 Newark, New Jersey directory. Since McCree’s patent application was filed in 1926 and the imprint on the barrel says "New York," which is also consistent with the 1921 reference in The Jewelers’ Circular, the company may have had two office or moved to New Jersey and then back to New York.

There’s an example of the pen featured in Schneider and Fischler’s The Book of Pens and Pencils, but the caption does nothing more than say "here it is." Sometimes when I get just about this desperate for additional information, I’ll search "all categories" on ebay hoping to find some other products that a company might have made which will provide the trail of bread crumbs I’m looking for. I tried that, and . . .

"0 results found for ‘roseville novelty.’"

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