Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tying a Couple Things Together . . . Sort Of

The nicest pencil I found at the Philadelphia Pen Show last January was this one, which was on Menash Murad’s table:

That turned-up ball clip is a dead giveaway that this one falls within the Hicks/Edward Todd family, but this one had an interesting twist. Well actually, maybe it’s more accurate to say that it’s interesting that there’s no twist at all about this one:

It’s a push-button repeater! The imprint confirmed my suspicions concerning who made it:

That "H" with a W above the crossbar and an S below it is a hallmark for W.S. Hicks, and as a bonus, there’s a patent number: 2,028,855, which was for a patent applied for by Arthur Winter of Weehawken, New Jersey on September 12, 1934, and granted on January 28, 1936:

I had never seen a Hicks repeating pencil before. This one is flawless without the slightest hint of any brassing or dents, and it works just great. About the only rock one could throw at it are the initials "HBS" engraved in the indicia, but in my view that’s neither cause for surprise or alarm: the nicer a pencil is, the more likely it is that the owner would have taken the time to personalize it with his or her initials.

If you’re marveling at how much this looks like an Eversharp Coronet pencil (or more properly speaking in Eversharpese, an Eversharp "All-Metal Pencil"), you aren’t alone . . . but remember that Eversharp never had a patent on its repeater mechanism, which it essentially lifted from Samuel Kanner and the Gilfred Corporation (see "My Find of the Year" at for the full story about that). Even though Eversharp later took the position that its repeating pencil design was in the public domain, you’ve got to wonder whether Eversharp ever threatened Hicks for "stealing" Eversharp’s design!

Now I could stop this story right here and you’d leave with that satisfied feeling, like you would at the end of a sitcom that wraps up a story neatly with a bow at the end of half an hour. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. See, at the time I bought this pencil, there was this nagging question rattling around in the back of my brain, and now that I’ve poked around a bit, the nagging hasn’t improved; in fact, it keeps escalating to the point where I no longer want to know the answer, I need to know.

That part of this story comes tomorrow...

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