Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Welcome to Pencil Island

“Do you have a Decat?”  Michael Little’s email asked.  When the answer was no, my Arizona connection hooked me up:

The faceted clip matches those found on Eagles, Majestics and a whole bunch of other lower-tier pencils, and is marked “Made in USA”:

Michael even sent me a link to the only bit of information that he could fid about this one: an advertisement for the Decat repeating pencil that appeared in the Ottawa, Ontario Evening Citizen on November 16, 1946:

Of the four models, this one appears to be the “Frostone” variety; there was a lower-priced plastic barrel pencil called the “Leader” as well as the higher-priced “Pencilustre” and “Engraveure” models.  Note at the bottom of the advertisement that the pencils were supposedly available at a number of stores, “or available from Holt Sales Co., Ltd.”

I don’t think Holt was the manufacturer but was probably the Canadian distributor of a U.S.-made pencil.  Who made it?  All my searching led to dead ends - heck, I couldn’t even figure out what “Decat” might mean in the generic sense of the word.   But the pencil itself might provide a strong clue:

Here’s the Decat with the mechanism removed, shown next to the Gilfred.  Recall that the Gilfred Corporation manufactured repeating pencils under a patent assigned to Samuel Kanner, making pencils under the Gilfred, Presto and Everfeed names (see “My Find of the Year” on December 31, 2011 - http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-find-of-year.html).

At the nose end, the clutch is too close to be a coincidence:

The Decat doesn’t have Samuel Kanner’s patent number 1,592,502 imprinted on it, and since the only documentation Michael and I have found for this one is a 1946 advertisement, that makes sense (the lawsuit between Eversharp and Gilfred resulted in the invalidation of Kanner’s patent in early 1942).   I don’t know whether Gilfred continued to limp along after its defeat at the hands of Eversharp, perhaps exporting pencils for the Canadian market, or whether the invalidation of Gilfred’s patents made it open season for others to begin copying the same design.

But I do know one thing.  As Michael shoults “Decat! Decat!” I cant resist the urge to don a white suit and say:

"Smiles, everybody, smiles!"


Martha said...

I'd love to see the engine turned one, too.

Jon Veley said...

Me too . . . now that I know they exist!