Thursday, October 9, 2014

An Entirely New Take on the Riedell

Here’s a pair of pencils that turned up at the Ohio Show last November: 

When I find one Riedell at a show, it’s been a great show. When I find two, it’s been twice as great. The green ringtop is an example I’ve admired for years, in the collection of the late Frank Tedesco; I became its successor custodian during the Saturday night auction. The full-sized red in a dealer’s junk box just an hour or so before the end of the show on Sunday – while I wonder how many times I walked right by it over the course of a four-day weekend, I can assure you that I didn’t walk right by it that last time!

The Riedell is one of those brands I’ve always bought no matter how many I’ve got at home - all in the hopes that if I examine them closely enough, I’ll find something imprinted on it to let me know something about their history. Alas . . . no matter how closely I looked, all I could find on these was the same markings I always see:

"Riedell Corp. NY Pat Pend’g." Oh well, I thought . . . at least these two help fill out the family a bit, and it was great to have Frank’s ringtop in the group:

Fortunately, this story does not end here. As I reviewed writing instrument patents one by one in the course of researching American Writing Instrument Patents Volume 2: 1911-1945, I ran across this one, for a repeating pencil that operated, just like the Riedell, by twisting and releasing the nose cone:

Those little prongs that clamp down on the lead to scoot it forward a bit were a dead giveaway: this is the patent for our Riedell:

Hugo S. Hasselquist applied for the patent for these pencils on June 5, 1922, but it was more than seven years before he received patent number 1,720,417 on July 9, 1929. No wonder they all indicate that the patent was pending!

Hasselquist had a long and successful career as an inventor. He started out working for the Wahl Co., where he was awarded two fountain pen patents and co-invented the "military clip" used on the company’s metal pencils (patent number 1,334,332 - see ).

During the time he applied for his patent for what would become the Riedell, Hasselquist’s other patents were assigned to Wahl’s nemesis, Autopoint (Charles Keeran, inventor of the Eversharp, had a hand in establishing Autopoint after Wahl ousted him). In fact, Hasselquist invented the clip used on Autopoint’s early metal pencils:

The patent for the Riedell wasn’t assigned to Autopoint, suggesting that he had parted ways with the company by the time it was finally issued. He next surfaces over at Rite-Rite shortly before the company was purchased by The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company (Dixon). From what I can tell, Dixon became Hasselquist’s permanent home – you won’t find his last patent in Volume 2 of my book, because it was issued in 1953 (for the curious, the patent (1) was number 2,638,074 and (2) yes, will be included in Volume 3 when I get around to finishing it).

There. That right there is one fine article, I said to myself with a great deal of satisfaction. That is as much as anyone is ever going to know about the Riedell, I thought as I patted myself on the back. But then, an email arrived last March that changed everything . . .

Part two of this article continues at

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