Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ready Ritepoint? Or Riterpoint?

One of the more unusual pencils found in the salesman’s sample wallet of Vernon pencils I received from Michael Little is the one on the far left in this picture:

Here’s the top up close:

The Vernon sample advertising on the cap makes it unlikely that parts were switched out (getting press-fit top caps out of the top of one of these is generally more trouble than it’s worth). While it is of course possible that this pencil – or any of them for that matter – might have been added to this folder at some point over the last 70 years, I’m still prepared to accept that this was also made by Ritepoint. Here’s why:

All four of these pencils have Ritepoint stamps on the barrels:

Other than a different name on the clip and a stepped top button, the Readyrite is identical. I’ve had another Readyrite hanging around the museum for awhile, and when I put it next to this one, it was identical in every respect except one:

Sometimes the script runs in one direction, sometimes in the other. That difference had me scratching my head a little bit and eventually sent me headlong back into the "tub of doom." That tub is a sort of purgatory, where unwanted pencils that aren’t anything I’m interested in wind up. If I buy a lot of ten pencils online because there’s only one in the group that has me curious . . . this is where the other nine go. Sometimes it’s where all ten end up.

My wife is a very patient woman, and I have to say both of the dogs were too, as I spread out a couple years’ worth of castoffs on the living room floor to see what was in there. At the end of the day, the search was fruitful – here’s a group of Readyrites that were in there:

None of these are dated, but from the looks of things at some point they decided to flatten out the clips a bit:

I also found a couple examples with metal caps:

There’s just a bit of a difference between the clips on these:

And there’s one other wrinkle. There are Readyrites, and then there are Readyriters like these:

I asked Michael Little whether Ritepoint also made the Readyriter, and he said no – the Readyriter pencils were made by Lipic. Ritepoint sprang from Lipic, when one of Joseph Lipic’s sons set up the company while the other continued his father’s business. I don’t have any evidence that the relationship between the two was adversarial; even so, no matter how friendly the competition might be between two companies, the use of names as similar as "Readyrite" and "Readyriter" would doubtless trigger an unfair competition complaint with the Federal Trade Commission unless there was either cooperation, common ownership or a merger.

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