Saturday, December 6, 2014


Like a lot of these advertising pencil companies, Gerlach-Barklow specialized in making calendars. According to Joliet’s Gerlach-Barklow Calendar Company by Tim and Michelle Smith, the company was founded in 1907 in Joliet, Illinois by Theodore R. Gerlach, Edward J. Barklow and K.H. Gerlach.

By July, 1919, the Gerlach-Barklow plant was "the largest in the world devoted exclusively to the making of art calendars and direct-by-mail advertising media," as reported in Monotype: A Journal of Composing Room Efficiency Published by the Langston Monotype Machine Company:

According to Joliet’s Gerlach-Barklow Calendar Company, in 1924 Gerlach-Barklow merged with the P.F. Volland Company, a children’s book company best known for the Raggedy Ann.

On February 16, 1929, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that The Gerlach-Barklow Company, newly formed in Delaware, was purchasing the assets of The Gerlack-Barklow Company (of Illinois), as well as the P.F. Volland Company, Rust Craft Publishers, Inc. (a greeting card manufacturer founded in 1906 by Fred Rust in Kansas City, Missouri) and the Artographic Corporation. By then, the total net assets of the company exceeded $2 million.

Given the company’s heritage, it’s no surprise that among the earliest examples I’ve found of a pencil marked Gerlach-Barklow includes a perpetual calendar:

The calendar pencil is I believe made by Ritepoint. As for the other, marked only "G-B Co.," I’m not so sure:

These next two, however, are both clearly Ritepoint made:

The top one has the same clip found on Alexander and Shedd-Brown pencils, with the exception of the "10 year guarantee" logo at the top of the clip:

The other one may have a Ritepoint clip, but the barrel tells a different story:

Starting with chapter one: "Here's why you shouldn't use gold lettering on a brown barrel?"

In 1959, Gerlach-Barklow was acquired by one of its biggest rivals – Shaw Barton of Coshocton, Ohio. Shaw-Barton’s pencils were also made by Ritepoint:

And Shaw Barton continued to use the Gerlach-Barklow name until at least 1971, when Shaw Barton closed the venerable Joliet facility:


Anonymous said...

I don't think the G-B inscription has anything to do with Gerlach-Barklow.

Michael Little
Halfhyde on eBay

Jon Veley said...

That's one man's unsubstantiated opinion, unless you have some evidence to the contrary . . .

Anonymous said...

I do indeed.

I have an early model ball point pen from the Holt Pen Company in Crompton, Rhode island.

On the cap it reads:
The Holt Pen Company
Crompton R.I. U.S.A.
Pat Pend

The pen has that same G-B Co. clip as you have in your pictures.

The clip is on the cap

I think I sent you this same information with picture a while back.

Michael Little
Halfhyde on eBay

Jon Veley said...

OF all the established examples attributed to Gerlach Barklow, none were actually made by the calendar company (the examples shown all trace back to Ritepoint in all probability).

I haven't ruled out the possibility that other companies also supplied G-B with pens or pencils - and from what you are indicating, Holt may also have done so.

Do you have an established connection between Holt and "G-B," or an association of "G-B" with something other than Gerlach Barklow?

Anonymous said...

Have you actually linked that pencil with G-B Co.on the clip that you have in the picture to Gerlach - Barklow?

If not, perhaps it is just similar names and they are not related in any way.

I had someone at the West Warwick, R.I. library look in the city directories for the early 1950's for G-B Company but they found nothing.

They did find another name that Holt must have used: The Warwick Pen Company It was located at 100 Pulaski, West Warwick, the same as Holt.

Michael Little