Tuesday, January 6, 2015

There Was No Typo

I just couldn’t resist taking a chance on this one online. Either the seller made what would turn out to be a really funny typo, or this was something kind of unusual:

The clip had me thinking this might be along the lines of a "Nupoint," a brand name used by Samuel Kanner (who, also used the name "Presto," among others). Sure enough, when the pencil arrived and I set it next to a Nupoint, the clips were identical – as was another telling feature:

There’s the pivoting top which heralds a Samuel Kanner production. To my delight, the seller had made no typos in the auction description:

The pencil does in fact read "ISCO / Sterling," something I haven’t seen before. From the evidence I’ve been able to find, "ISCO" appears to have been an acronym for the Intercontinent Sales Corporation, which advertised in the January, 1918 issue of Notion Trade Topics:

If that seems like a stretch, in the index of advertisers for this issue, Intercontinent’s ad was also listed under the "ISCO" trade name:

"Snap Fasteners" seems to have been the company’s bread and butter, and it appears that the company might have had governmental contracts to supply them. The use of the trade name "ISCO" was also confirmed by the 1920 American Exporter’s Export Trade Directory, which also indicates that the company’s wares included "metal novelties," which in 1920s parlance would include mechanical pencils:

Intercontinent’s business, as the name suggests, was primarily exporting. Perhaps that’s why Kanner’s ISCO-marked Nupoint pencils are so elusive here – there may be scads of these things overseas, but this may have been one of only very few that were left behind here in the States.

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