Wednesday, December 3, 2014

One Less Envelope in the Dead Letter Office

I first posted about this one back in February, 2012 (, and it’s one of only three articles captioned in the "unidentified" category:

The pencil itself isn’t all that remarkable, but that logo on the clip has been screaming "find me" ever since I found that pencil.

Nearly three years later, I was following up on a lead that the "Sin Pencils" might have been imported from Japan by Spors when my search took me to Richard Binder’s site. There, under Spors, Richard included an illustration of this exact logo. I poked around for awhile, hoping to find an advertisement or something to prove a connection between the two – to no avail. So I emailed Richard to ask him where he had seen this logo used by Spors.

His terse, one sentence response: he had copied it from a Spors clip. You moron, I’m sure he was thinking, but of course he didn’t say that.

I hit the online auctions hoping to find one of these, and there were several. After a few failed attempts in which I was outbid, I finally was able to track one of the pens down:

These have glass nibs and a Crescent-filler design identical to a Conklin. Serious collectors may poo-poo these as lower quality pens, but I’ll tell you that I had to spend quite a bit to bring one home – this one set me back fifty bucks, and the other two (in worse condition) each went for sixty. Although the color isn’t quite as deep as on my pencil, I think that’s just due to fading or a different dye lot. I think this pen was intended to match my pencil.

And there, just as Richard indicated, was what I was looking for:

The logo is also repeated, although a bit more crudely, on the filler bar:

Spors was an importer of all sorts of cheap novelties from Germany and Japan – catalogs from the thirties through the fifties show thousands of different items. I was able to track down a 1931 advertisement in Popular Mechanics that appears to show this very set:

And in early 1932, dealers could double their money buying these pen, pencil and necktie sets by the dozen, at 49 cents apiece:

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