Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Matryoshka Herring

There was something in yesterday’s article that I promised I would get back to, and yet I didn’t. It concerned an offhand remark that the pencils advertised by Dunn & Rodenberg in 1919:

Bore more of a resemblance to these pencils, made by the American Lead Pencil Company of New York:

As I followed up on that thought, the train was taking me farther and farther from the story I was trying to tell you . . . which in itself was inside a story I was trying to tell you about the Ever-Rite. I keep thinking that like a set of Matryoshka dolls, maybe there’s one at the very center of this story holding a little sign that says "Congratulations! The answer is . . ."

No such luck just yet, but to introduce you to this next sized smaller red herring, I’ve got to back up just a little bit more, to address another offhand comment I made, this one in the original Ever-Rite article. When I was going through my small stash of Ever-Rites to see whether they ticked just like a Sheaffer inside, I made the comment that four out of five of them look like this when you pull off the top:

Was anybody wondering what that fifth one out of five looks like?

When I gave the cap on this one a tug, rather than seeing a Sheaffer-style lead magazine, the entire works pulled out, and it looked like this:

The mechanism on this is really odd – the inside of the barrel is threaded to accept this short bushing, which is pinned to a short pushrod:

I can’t find a patent for this one anywhere, and it isn’t marked that there was one. In fact, there’s no imprint on the barrel at all – the only lettering to be found on this one is found on the top of the cap:

It wasn’t until I stumbled across that Dunn & Rodenberg ad at the beginning of this article that I started looking a little closer at my American Lead Pencil metal pencils, and an association I had always considered to be random came into sharper focus. These pencils – when they aren’t capped by a really tacky fake jewel like that shorter one – are marked . . . you guessed it . . .

. . . and my one example of the Ever-Rite and these A.L.P. Co. pencils are the only two metal pencils I have that are marked like this.

Seems like a pretty thin connection. After all, the Ever-Rite is a rear drive mechanism, and the Americans are nose drive. That means, when I pull off the caps on my two examples of the American, I wouldn’t expect to see . . .

There’s no reason why the American needs a lead magazine like this - it doesn’t have a mechanical function. Why? I don’t know.


Anonymous said...

I have the American Pencil, the one that is capped with the blue jewel. Do you know how old these pencils are? my pencil has the extra leads in the cap and the pencil works perfectly except the eraser is rounded from use. my pencil looks as good as the one on your page except the eraser of course. Any idea what I could get for this pencil if I were to sell it.


Anonymous said...

I also have the original packaging (cardboard box) that the pencil came in.