Friday, December 26, 2014

Of Course

I suppose I could shine this one up a bit so that you can see just how clean it is:

But that tarnish is a badge of honor, showing just how little this pencil has been used over the course of nearly a century. The clip is a dead giveaway as to who made this one:

This is a DeWitt-LaFrance pencil, which always gets me going – these guys seemed to have their hands in just about everything. The faint "Patd" imprint on the tang of the clip, an indication that the pencil was made after 1920:

Patent number 1,350,412 was issued to David A. LaFrance and William P. DeWitt on August 24, 1920. The pencil barrel itself will also be marked either "Pat. Pend." or "Pat." depending on when it was made – LaFrance and DeWitt received two patents for the pencil itself, both applied for on October 2, 1919. Number 1,423,603 was issued on July 25, 1922:

And number 1,434,684 was issued on November 7, 1922:

This example is stamped "Pat" on the barrel as well as the clip, indicating it was manufactured after July, 1922. It also indicates something else:

"Welty’s / Chicago / 1/20 Gold Filled Pat." I’ve only run across one other pencil with a Welty’s stamp on it (; that other example was also made during William A. Welty’s second foray into the industry, which began when he established William A. Welty & Co. in Chicago around 1920.

Welty’s started his first company, William A. Welty Company, around 1905. His fountain pens were advertised in the September, 1907 edition of Typewriter Topics:

As was typical at the time, those who advertised were also permitted to place laudatory articles in the publication. This one boasted on page 28 that Welty made the only fountain pen west of the Mississippi:

By 1910, Welty had a national presence and was trading under "Welty Pen Specialty Company."

The company wasn’t formally incorporated until 1913 in Waterloo, Iowa: the incorporation of the company was announced in Geyer’s Stationer in July of that year:

Just two years later, Welty left the company, which was renamed the Evans Dollar Pen Company. Now here’s what’s really interesting. Michael Fultz reported the establishment of a new company, William A. Welty & Company, in Chicago around 1920. There isn’t nearly as much known about Welty’s second foray into the industry, but this pencil, made by DeWitt-LaFrance and dating to after 1922, neatly ties a few clues together.

According to the 1926 McGraw-Hill Radio Trade Catalog, Welty was by that time involved in a second line of business: it lists William A. Welty & Co. at 36 South State Street in Chicago.

Of course DeWitt-LaFrance made this pencil. After Carter’s Ink Company took over DeWitt-LaFrance’s operations in the mid-1920s, DeWitt LaFrance got into the radio business (using the tradename "Superadio," reminiscent of the company’s line of pens and pencils called the "Superite"). And guess who was the Chicago representative for DeWitt-LaFrance, the radio company:

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