Friday, September 6, 2013

Other People's Fair Children

A few years ago I read a book titled “I Hate Other People’s Kids” by Adrienne Frost, which was an amusing hundred-page or so rant about the things other people’s children (and the parents who fail to control them) do to annoy the author.   This book is a must read for parents who think it’s cute to let their kids run around a restaurant – or a bar – while they meet up with friends.

But that’s the people sort of kids.  Yesterday I wrote about my “Fairchildren,” four examples of pencils made by Leroy W. Fairchild that I’ve picked up recently.  At the DC show, I saw quite a few examples of other people’s Fairchildren, and they don’t annoy me at all (I even secretly wished they were mine).

Here’s one that Dave Glass had on his table at the DC show:

On the one side, “L.W.F. & Co.”:

and on the other, a patent date of September 25, 1877:

The USPTO website has been cranky lately, spitting out lots of “No patents have matched your query” messages for things you know are supposed to be there.  Fortunately, I knew that this would probably be a design patent, so that narrowed the field enough for me to track this one down without the use of the index.   And the patentee surprised me:

Design patent number 10,260 was issued on September 25, 1877 – to W.S. Hicks, who I always thought was a competitor of Fairchild’s.    And Dave’s pencil has yet other interesting feature:

That’s an English hallmark, obviously added after the pencil was made by stamping it partly across the patent imprint.  I think that the piece was probably manufactured in the U.S. and then prepared for export to the U.K., so the hallmark was hastily added to comply with British import laws.

As far as other people’s pencils went at the DC show, the main event for me, photo-wise, was to photograph some items from Joe Nemecek’s collection.  And the main event within that main event was the opportunity to photograph a few of his Victorians, shown here closed . . .

. . . and open:

Not all of these are Fairchild, but all are American figural Victorians, which are much more rare than British figurals.  The two non-fairchilds are the saddle -motif, which is marked “Gorham Man’f Co.”:

and the mushroom with a fly on the side of it:

which is marked simply “Gorham”:

The other three, however, are Fairchild – at least two of them definitely are.  The dude with the robe on has only the letter “F” stamped on the extender:

Normally, when I see a Fairchild hallmark that is just the letter “F” it is within a shield; however in the absence of any other likely candidate, I’ll take Joe’s word for this one.  Next, Joe’s skinny little pencil has a great imprint:

“Fairchild / Pat’d June 1, 80.”   Joe calls this one a figural, but neither of us was able to figure out what it was supposed to be.  My best guess was an old-fashioned rug beater – the kind of thing you’d use to bang the dust out of a rug while it hangs on a line.  Not exactly creative fodder for a figural, but to each their own, right?   I was hoping when I found the patent it would provide me with a clue as to what we are looking at, but the patent, Leroy Fairchild’s design patent number 11,795, is one of the weirder ones I’ve seen:

Rather than a drawing, there’s a photograph.  And rather than the usual general claim for the “ornamental design illustrated,” Fairchild goes to great lengths to describe the “elliptic wire loop” on the top.  Whatever that wire loop is supposed to represent, I suppose, will forever be left to our imagination.

And then there’s Joe’s railroad lantern figural.  It also has the Fairchild name on the extender:

and on the opposite side of the extender, the patent date of October 26, 1880:

Finding the patent was pretty simple.  Leroy W. Fairchild applied for his patent for the design of the lantern pencil on June 26, 1880, and received design patent 12,001:

And that wasn’t the only patent Fairchild received that day.  Check out patent number 233,742:

For a combination whistle and compass!


Martha said...

The wire loop looks like the filament of a lightbulb--I think that was invented by Edison in about 1880. Shot in the dark. . .

Martha said...

And the "dude in the robe" looks like he is carrying the Torah, or some kind of scroll.

Anonymous said...

Jon, the loop would be a glove, or less likely due to size, shoe button hook.
Chris - Michigan Button Society

Anonymous said...
hope this registers the link, it's jewelers trade journal with description of Leroy Fairchild retractable button hook.
Chris, also try Button Country see other fasteners, and buttonhook society of UK

Jon Veley said...

Hi Martha, thanks for the input -

Chris, I think you nailed the looped Fairchild. I'll let Joe know, too. I'll bet there's a separate patent out there for the mechanical aspect, and it should be easier to find now that I know what it is!

Martha said...

A buttonhook! I never saw one that shape.

Jon Veley said...

For what it's worth, here's a direct link to some button hooks, including looped examples like the Fairchild:

Some have patent dates on them - probably designs.

David Nishimura said...

Late comment on the acorn pencil:
I've seen a number of them unmarked or marked as Hicks. This was the first I'd seen with a Fairchild mark.
Note that the English mark isn't a hallmark, but a registry mark. Basically denotes the UK equivalent of a US design patent.

Anonymous said...

Hello David,

I have an acorn pencil exactly like the one pictured above by Hicks. Could you help identify what size lead will fit it? 1.05 mm is too small & 1.5 mm is too big. Thanks. Jennifer

Arlene Martin said...

Looking for an acorn propelling pencil, maybe marked Pat. Sep. 25 77, W.S. Hicks, metal, not wood.Anyone?