Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shedding Another Mystery

After World War II, the mechanical industry underwent a transition. Before the war, there wasn’t much of a distinction between companies making pencils as writing instruments and those which manufactured pencils intended as promotional giveaways. In general, companies just turned out pencils, some better than others, and if a customer wanted pencils made with an advertising slogan on them, the companies would gladly oblige.

Postwar, there was a much brighter line. Companies tended to specialize more, with some turning out mechanical pencils intended to be sold as quality writing instruments, while others were devoted almost entirely to making advertising pencils. Usually, the mechanisms inside these pencils were cheap nose-drive screw mechanisms, and since they were cheaply made, they haven’t yet attracted broad collector interest. Values of advertising pencils are usually driven by what is advertised on them rather than what who made the pencil itself.

Although there was a proliferation of advertising specialty companies proliferated beginning in the late 1940s, very few of the dozens of new trade names under which advertisers were sold actually made the pencils themselves. An established company, such as Brown & Bigelow or Ritepoint, would supply generic pencils to an advertising specialty company, which would then screen print the customer’s advertising on to customers.

Not much has been written about these connections to date. Since interest in these is starting to take off and I’ve got piles of these pencils evidencing these connections, I’m going to start throwing out there what I’ve been able to figure out about these so far.  For starters, take these:

"Shedd-Brown" pencils turn up every so often, and on most of them, there’s no outward indication that there was no Shedd-Brown Company that actually made pencils:

But the evidence I’ve got indicates that there wasn’t. Here’s an example that shows what company was actually behind the Shedd-Brown:

This next example adds all the punctuation you need to conclude that Ritepoint of St. Louis manufactured Shedd Brown pencils:

Ritepoint was an offshoot of the Joseph Lipic Pen Company . . . literally. From what I know so far, Ritepoint was headed up by one of Joseph’s sons, Sylvester Lipic.  The Shedd-Brown connection is screenprinted on the cap, opposite the clip:

The fact that Shedd Brown was headquartered in Minneapolis is interesting, since Brown & Bigelow (makers of Redipoint pencils) was right in their back yard. Hmmm.... Shedd Brown . . . Brown & Bigelow . . . could it be that the Browns of Brown & Bigelow set up a competing shop?

1 comment:

David Cockerham said...

I collect memorabilia of the Joshua Tetley & Son brewery company formerly of Leeds,England and one of my items is a ball point pen. It's signed Joshua Tetley on the barrel and has the word Chromatic on the clip,and the refill in it is marked "Ritepoint USA" and "Chromatic Jeweller Microtip 12/89" and "Order #67 Blue or #69 Black". I'd very much like to order a replacement black refill for it but haven't been able to trace a supplier. Do you know of one? I fear Ritepoint is long gone and no one now makes compatible refills for their pens. Ebay searches sometimes throw up vintage Ritepoint pens in the USA but with crazy postage costs to the UK and with no certainty that the refills in them are compatible with my pen