My expectations aren’t very high when I go to a general antique show, which is part of the fun. Once in a blue moon, I’ll find something really eye-popping, and without thousands of other eye-poppers around (like you’ll find at pen shows), those gems stand out like ten-foot-tall neon signs.
This is not about one of those finds.
No, what’s great about attending your run-of-the-mill antique show or flea market is that I tend to look more closely at mildly interesting things that might not even cause a blip on my radar at a pen show. Maybe I’m hungrier for something interesting to look at, or maybe with less to look at I’m just more focused, but whatever the cause, I pick up some interesting tidbits that way.
Take these two pencils, for example:
By the time I ran across these three-inch pencils at the Scott Antique Market sometime last year, I hadn’t seen any pencils for half an hour or so. There were half a dozen metal pencils on this particular table, ridiculously priced (it’s hard to resist saying "I’ll sell you as many of those as you want for half the price" sometimes!), but these two tiny pencils didn’t have price tags.
A friend of mine once formulated four universal rules by which he lived his life, the last of which was "It never hurts to ask." I’ve often found that bit of bar wisdom to be tremendously useful advice over the years, although his other three rules have not proved as helpful (in order, they were: 1. Look busy. 2. Deny everything. 3. "Date" hot chicks. Of course, he didn’t use the word "date").
But rule number four again came to my rescue this day. I asked, and for a measly couple bucks, these two pencils found their way into my pocket and into today’s article.
The pencils themselves are a common sight, simple nose-drive numbers that you’d breeze right past a dozen times without a second thought. These two are a little better than usual, with their bank advertising embossed on the barrels.
But upon closer examination – an examination I probably would not have done had I seen these at a pen show – I noticed something else that made me tilt my head to the side and say "huh."
"AXT." I never would have expected to learn that A.T. Cross made these ubiquitous pencils.