Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Adding to Clan Kahn

The Hiriter appears on page 89 of The Catalogue, and all I said about it was that it was "probably a Wearever subbrand." I recently picked up a couple other examples, one of which looks very much like the lime green one that appears in the book:

I’ve long since stopped using the phrase "Wearever subbrand" because I’ve learned that "Wearever" was not actually a company, but was instead just one trade name used by David Kahn, Inc., which manufactured writing instruments under a whole host of names that have been featured here. It would have been more correct to say that Hiriter was probably another brand name used by David Kahn, Inc. Here’s why I thought so:

Finding a second Hiriter nearly identical to a Wearever, in another color David Kahn used on the Wearever line, makes this case even stronger – although this alone would still not nudge me off of "probably," since David Kahn’s business model was to produce cheaper writing instruments that had the look of more expensive ones. In short, I couldn’t rule out that someone didn’t copy the copycat. But then this one turned up, which has me convinced my suspicion is correct:

This little gem has a barrel with a distinctive feature: groups of three lines with gothic-arched bands separating them:

I’d seen that pattern before, on a nearly identical pencil featured here some time ago: a "Pioneer," confirmed as a David Kahn brand (complete with the letters "DK" in a circle at the top of the clip). See

You might legitimately ask why this example is any more convincing to me than ones I just showed you, since it’s also possible that someone copied this Pioneer – possible although less likely, since this pattern would have been more troublesome to knock off. The answer came in the course of researching patents for American Writing Instrument Patents Volume 2: 1911-1945. As I was sifting through patent records, this one really jumped out at me:

David Kahn himself applied for design patent number 82,299 on September 7, 1932, and it was awarded just two months later, on November 15 – lightning speed by patent office standards. Note how a nearly identical cap band is found on the Pioneer, but more importantly, there’s our intricate barrel.

If it was unlikely some third party would copy an inexpensive pencil like the Pioneer, I’d say the chances someone would risk infringing on someone else’s design patent in the process are nil. Case closed: the second edition of The Catalogue will move the Hiriter to the David Kahn section.

And, my friends, the Hiriter is not the only one I’ll be moving over. Check out this example of the "Pacific":

Here it is, shown with a couple examples of the Wearever, in identical plastic:

Like the Wearever, the Pacific has a "P" in a wreath above the name on the clip, much like the "WE" in a wreath found on many of these early Wearevers:

That identical clip is found on my other example of the Pacific, which appears on page 109 of The Catalogue without comment:

And I believe the band on this example, which matches the one found on my Pioneer, is a dead giveaway:

I’m not going to hedge with the Pacific – I’m going straight from no attribution to "definitely David Kahn" on this one.

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