Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The 2014 "Leadies"

It’s been a really strange year here at Leadhead’s – a short year as far as blog posts go, with an extended break for the first three quarters of it while I wrote and published two volumes of the patent book project. Great stuff was finding me even during the hiatus and there are a lot of things I know now that I didn’t know a year ago. So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my top ten discoveries from 2014:

Six of the top ten fit nicely into this picture.. From the top:

1. This "Standard" repeating pencil was featured here earlier this week ( It ties together nicely several of the Samuel Kanner brands, including the Presto, the Hi-Speed and the Repeeto, and also suggests that there was a connection with Eclipse.

2. This tree-trunk figural leadholder, made by Aikin Lambert & Co., made the cover of Pennant magazine for the fall 2014 issue. Tom Heath commented when he sold it to me that it should be in the top five pieces in any pencil collection, and I have to agree. I haven’t posted a blog article about it at Leadhead’s yet, because I’m still thinking about a short story about it for the Pennant.

3. This Eversharp with a tree-trunk cap was featured here at the blog almost two years ago ( At the time the article ran, it was owned by Ellen Haupt. In January of this year I asked Ellen to bring it to the Philadelphia Show for some more detailed photographs – but this time, she was ready to part with it. Although the story behind the pencil wasn’t from 2014, adding it to my collection this year was a big deal to me.

4. The word "prototype" gets thrown around a lot in our hobby, but this pair of Parker Vacumatics truly set the standard. These have everything: collector cache for the brand and the model, together with all the undeniable indicia of works in progress straight from Parker’s R&D department. They came from Steve Mandell at the Chicago Show, and the full article was posted in September (

5. This is the pencil I bought from Keith Prosser that added the term "sin pencil" to my vocabulary. It has a compass, a stanhope, a set of dice, a cigar cutter a put/take game spinner and a reversible pencil/dip pen, and the moment I first saw it, I knew it would make for a great article. It did. The post ( became one of the ten most popular articles out of all the ones I’ve posted here — within 48 hours.

6. The "Adding Pencil Company" pencil surfaced in an online auction recently ( In addition to its inherent coolness, the pencil led me to a whole category of patents in which similar pencils are found, and which I still haven’t fully explored.

And there were four others:

7. The Sheaffer golf pencil in ebonized pearl is a grail find for a pencil collector, one which Joe Nemecek and I always joked would be the only pencil over which we would go to war. Fortunately, by the time Pat Mohan found one for me, Joe already had one. (The full article can be found at

8. Carol Strain’s Webster pen and pencil set, which she showed to me at the Ohio Show in November, was accompanied by this set of instructions (the article I wrote about this can be found at I’ve long championed the Rex Manufacturing Company’s contributions, and this tangible proof that the company actually made these sets as opposed to licensing out their patents was something I’d been hunting for years.

9. The connection of the "sigma" or "lazy W" mark to J.R. Wood & Sons arrived on my doorstep completely by chance, and the find was so important to me that it was the first article I posted after my break ( Even though the person who posted the company’s 1923 catalog online permitted me to use the images in my article, when another copy of the catalog surfaced online I had to add it to my collection.

10. I haven’t posted about this last find yet, and I’m long overdue to do so. Half a dozen readers sent me emails to let me know this collection of Ruxton Multi-Vider pencils, advertising, and yes – prototypes – had surfaced in an online auction, all in one lot. The final price was significant, but it was more than worth it: Ruxtons are very rare, usually commanding more than $100 each when they surface. The original prototypes? Priceless. If I make a New Years’ resolution, it will be to get these properly photographed and documented so that I can share them with you.

Just imagine what I don’t know now that I’ll learn in 2015 . . . Happy New Year and happy hunting from Leadhead’s!

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