Friday, June 28, 2013

Was There a "Finestpointe?"

I really took an irresponsible chance on this one:

When it showed up in an online auction, the seller–God love him or her – was truly describing it to the best of her ability. The title of the auction was "1920s Finepoint Sterling Silver Overlay Mechanical Pencil." The description indicated the pencil had "no damages or excessive surface wear" and further indicated that there was a name in the silver.

There were no closeup pictures, and the picture didn’t show the name of the owner.

I hemmed and hawed for a long time trying to decide whether this one would be worth the chance. What I was hoping is that the pencil was a Hutcheon, which marketed pencils first under the name "Finepointer" and then, probably under pressure from Mabie Todd, which had the "Fyne Poynt" line of pencils, changed the brand to "Finerpointe" and registered the latter as a trademark (See "I Say Finepointer, You Say Finerpointe, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off . . ." on January 26, 2012 –

It looked like the pencil might be acid etched and discolored by patina rather than being "worn." And – as I crossed my fingers – I was really hoping that name on the back wasn’t TOO ugly.

After the auction closed and I paid forty bucks for the thing, including shipping, I was anxious to see whether I might as well have flushed a couple Jacksons down the toilet. This time, I got lucky. Yes, the pencil is indeed acid etched, and yes, the sterling has taken on a nice patina over the years, with no trace of wear underneath. I’ve decided against polishing this one:

Yes, the seller got the name wrong – it says "Finerpointe," not Finepoint:

Yes, there’s a Hutcheon logo – a nice one, in fact, more clear than they usually are, even through the patina:

But what about that name? Is it something I can live with?

Yes, Virginia. I can definitely live with that.

F.M. Humiston appears as a member of the board of trustees for the Owego Free Academy in New York, a position which he held in 1892 and to which he was reappointed in 1894 – dates which are a little early for this pencil, which was probably made somewhere in the late teens or early 1920s. If this is the same Mr. Humiston, he probably would have enjoyed this pencil during his retirement.

The process used to manufacture this Hutcheon is the same process Mabie Todd used to make some elaborate advertising pencils, like the one I featured here on September 7, 2012 ("These Guys Really Did This Right!" at

I’m increasingly certain that there was some business relationship between Hutcheon and Mabie Todd, but I haven’t yet established what the arrangement was.

1 comment:

Martha said...

Good instincts! This is gorgeous.