Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Fine Pencil . . . In My Esti-Mation

This one is a little newer than the pencils I typically go for, but when I saw it in an online auction, I knew I just had to have it.

The pencil is unmarked with the exception of the embossing on the barrel end:

Yeah, that huge counter parked on the back end of that one is just ugly as all get out, and the plastic is a later and cheaper swirled composition, kind of like a low-grade Stratford or something. But the cool factor is undeniable, and the auction even included the original paperwork:

The Esti-Mate (or Penco-Mate, according to the paperwork) was designed for counting pencil dots for contractor’s estimating purposes. Make a dot on the paper, and the pencil counts it. I suppose it would also count words – if you press hard, use cursive writing and don’t dot any i’s or cross any t’s. Here’s the back side of the instructions:

The phone number no longer works – yeah, it was a longshot, but it was only a few moments of my life I’ll never get back, right? The street address of 2115 South Ninth Street, Philadelphia is also a dead end – the location is a small two-story building, located at the corner of Cantrell Street, and these days it’s used as a church:

According to the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Esti-mate, Inc. was incorporated using the Ninth Street address in Pennsylvania on May 22, 1970 (entity number 113,576). Today, there is an "Esti-Mate, Inc." in North Carolina which currently sells computer software to contractors for estimating purposes – a close match. But according to the company’s website, the company was founded in 1977, and our Pennsylvania Esti-Mate has never changed its address from the Ninth Street location.

I haven’t gotten my Esti-mate working reliably, and maybe that has something to do with why the company appears to have vanished. Either that, or maybe they didn’t accurately estimate the size of the shirt pocket you’d need to carry this nifty thing around!

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