Friday, August 30, 2013

Two's a Coincidence . . . Or Is It?

Frank Hoban had two of these at the DC show a few weeks ago, and I bought both of them:

What a great imprint these have: “Belmont Handy-Pencil”:

There were a couple of reasons these were a must-have item for me, even though the price was a little steeper than I usually pay for things from Frank: first, these are really cool and I’ve never seen them before.  But second, in the dim recesses of my mind, buried under the piles of useless information that clutter up my subconscious, I remembered that somewhere I had seen someone post a picture of one of these next to a corresponding patent drawing – at some time.

If I had remembered what that patent was, that would have been must-have reason number three . . . but I couldn’t, and since I couldn’t remember the somewhere, the someone or the some time, I had a heckuva time finding it again, and without a patent number or date on the pencil itself I couldn’t sneak in the back door to find it, either.  I even enlisted the help of a few in the peanut gallery, but none could remember what I was remembering.

So my Belmont Handy-Pencil, which I photographed the morning after I got back from the DC show and which I’ve been just itching to write about ever since, was slipping into the gee-I’ll-write-about-that-one-whenever-I-find-that-thing-I’m-looking-for pile.  And, as happens all to often with me, the minute I gave up and quit looking for that last detail . . . I found it.

The answer popped up when I was browsing through George Kovalenko’s book, looking for something else (I was trying to find a patent for the pencil version of Diamond Point’s nested pen after I looked up the patent for the pen).  I saw a listing for David L. Davis’ design patent number 81,529, which he applied for on January 9, 1930 and which was issued on July 8, 1930:

That was the drawing I had remembered seeing, and with that information in hand, I was able to track down that posting online about this pencil.  Except it wasn’t about this pencil . . . not exactly, anyway.

The posting was by the late Dennis Bowden on Fountain Pen Board, back in November, 2010.   Dennis was musing about what Walter A. Sheaffer thought about David Davis assigning this patent to someone other than Sheaffer, since Davis had previously assigned design patents to Sheaffer.

It wasn’t that Davis assigned his patent to someone else that was so interesting, but about who that someone else was: the Michael-George Company, owned by former Sheaffer salesman-turned-bitter business rival George Kraker.

And now, for the punch line: the pencil Dennis showed off in his post was nearly identical to mine, with the same cream and black lower section and red upper section.  However, his was imprinted “Redbird / Michael-George Co. / Libertyville, Il.”

Identical pencils, one marked Belmont and one marked Michael-George.  Sound familiar?

That’s the picture of an Eagle, a Belmont, and a “Dixie / Michael-George Co.” from an article I posted here on August 20 (“Quite a Bit North of the Mason-Dixon Line,” at  In that article, I concluded that the Eagle Pencil Company made my Dixie, and I still believe that’s correct – evidence is clear that Eagle made some Belmont products, and that distinctive Eagle plastic ties these three pencils together nicely.

But what about the Handy-Pencil?   It has the oversized “B” and “T” at the beginning and end of “Belmont,” a design cue used by Kraker on Pencraft and Yankee imprints (all the letters in “Dixie” on my example are the same size).   And while Eagle did have a penchant for making weird stuff, the design patent for the Handy-Pencil belonged to Michael-George, not to Eagle.

I have a theory, but I'd like to hear what a few others have to say about this first.  


George Kovalenko said...

Dennis also posted on FPN about his "RedbirD" golf pencil on June 14, 2010.

George Kovalenko.

Unknown said...

Googling Belmont Thin Leads when I came across your blog which I realize was written some time ago. I have bought an estate that has a "tube" of leads they are very short, any idea if they go to the short pencil you have? I thought maybe I could send a picture but don't see that option. It is yellow with red writing