Thursday, November 6, 2014

This One Finally Pulled My Chain

Rob Bader had this pencil in his online store for a long time:

It was one of those I’d stopped and looked at probably a dozen times. There wasn’t much special about the pencil itself; allthough the barrel is sterling, it had a name on it I hadn’t seen before:

"A&Z." Although I’m usually a sucker for a different name I haven’t seen before, this one just didn’t do it for me – I don’t know, maybe it was just such a small pencil with such microscopic letters that I didn’t feel the need to bite. Until, that is, I was browsing through those old issues of The Jewelers’ Circular and found this advertisement in the January 25, 1922 issue. That instant, I knew I’d need to drop Rob and email:

The A&Z Chain Company merged with Hayward Company in 1970 to become A&Z Hawyard, the name under which the company continues to do business today, as a division of Allison Reed Group. As was the case with most of these jewelry house brands, I suspect that A&Z didn’t have anything to do with manufacturing mechanical pencils, but instead had them supplied with their name imprinted on it to offer as novelties in addition to their usual product line. In this case, the firm’s location in Providence, Rhode Island, together with its outward appearance lead me to conclude that the actual manufacturer was Cross.

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