Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Joe Couldn't Lose On This One

Joe Nemecek called dibs on something in an online auction awhile back.  He was excited to acquire it – so much so that he wanted to personally write a guest blog article to introduce it.  So I snapped the pictures for Joe, and he went to work.  Without further ado, here’s Joe --

Several months ago I was doing my usual weekly search at an online auction site for mechanical pencils. Up popped a  beater Ingersoll with an accessory shirt clip imprinted Kant-Luz-It.

My jaw almost hit the floor.  I sent Jon a very polite 'dibs'. The clip looked eerily similar to the one found on my chased black hard rubber Crocker pencil.

I always assumed Crocker made this clip for its pens and pencils. This article will attempt to establish that the Kant-Luz-It Klip Company made this particular clip for Crocker.

The research started.  The patent date imprinted on the clip is April 12, 1921:

The date refers to patent number 1,374,515.  Sylvester M. Nathan of Fitchburg, Massachusetts applied for it on November 9, 1920:

The text of the patent describes a short shirt pencil clip, with hidden spring attached to a trigger bar. When a pencil with this clip is placed in a shirt pocket, the tension of the spring holds the trigger to the pocket. Pressing down on the trigger releases the clip and allows the pencil to be removed from the pocket. Hence the name 'can’t lose it'

This clipping from The American Stationer dated July 15, 1922 establishes the link between Sylvester M. Nathan and Kant-Luz-It Klip Company of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  Sylvester M. Nathan was an incorporator of Kant-Luz-It Klip Company, along with Ubert C. Russell and Blanche R. Nathan. This clipping also establishes that the company at least initially produced paper clips.

So what happened to the pencil clip side of the company? This article from Typewriter Topics dated November 1922 establishes beginning production of the shirt clips.

Below is an advertisement from the November, 1933 issue of Popular Mechanics that provides some interesting tidbits about the sale of the clip.

So the Kant-Luz-It clip began production in 1922 and was still being produced in 1933.  By 1933, according to this, the company had moved to Pittsburgh.

You are wondering what happened to Crocker in this blog article? I've saved the high temperature best stuff almost for the last. The following excerpt from the article in the Fitchburg Sentinel dated January 9, 1926 is significant. There was a fire and ...

“The fire proved especially disastrous to the Kant Luz It Clip Co. as the Crocker Pen Co. of Boston had practically completed arrangements to move to this city and were expected to locate here next Friday. The local company had just shipped most of its finished product, thus reducing the actual loss at this time. Valuable plans were destroyed and much property so S. M. Nathan places the loss between $2500 and $3000.

“The Crocker Pen Co. had notified its employees that it was to move to Fitchburg and made arrangements to transfer its entire manufacturing plant to the Kant Luz It Clip quarters. Whether the fire will delay the move or not is unknown today. If the fire keeps the industry away from Fitchburg the loss will be hard to estimate as the Crocker company is a rapid growing concern which would give employment to a large force.”

Did Crocker ever move to Fitchburg? I do not yet know. Anybody?

The Crocker company started using this clip from 1923 onward, per Rob Astyk's article in the January/February 1991 issue of Pen World.  Crocker folded in the early 30s. The company was a smaller producer of quality pens and pencils that are highly prized by collectors today.  My Crocker is about one of my all-time favorite pencils.

For the Crocker crazy, here is a picture of the full company imprint:

“Crocker Ink-Tite / Boston / Pat. Jan. 30 ‘17 / Made in USA” (editor’s note: give me a break – Joe didn’t want the lettering highlighted on this one!).

(Editor’s note: the only patent with a Crocker connection issued on January 30, 1917 was number 1,214,310.  Stormont Josslyn applied for a patent for a fountain pen on September 18, 1916, and he assigned a one-half interest in the patent to Seth Chilton Crocker:

Huh.  No clip, and the patent has absolutely nothing to do with pencils.)

That's what I got.  No big period to my beginning proposition, but almost a complete sentence.

-Joe Nemecek

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice job on the article.
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