Friday, March 6, 2015

A LIttle Bit Different in a Couple Different Ways

This one came from the Philadelphia "mother lode":

I haven’t written about the Nichols Products Corporation for quite some time - Edgar Nichols was the inventor of the Tri-Point, and a couple years ago I stumbled across Edgar’s personal stash of prototypes. Nichols also made radio tube pencils like this one: here are a couple of the more normal examples:

The upper one shows a figural cap shaped like a radio tube, while the lower one has a lucite magnifier built into the top, a design Nichols patented (see Like all the Nichols pencils I’ve found, the Nichols name is found next to the clip:

On the other side, this has a little different imprint:

It has both Cunningham and RCA labels on it. I was a little confused about this at first, because Cunningham was a competitor of RCA who was actually sued by RCA (and other) for flagrantly violating patents on the radio tubes his companies produced. However, it turns out that RCA’s patent suit in 1919 had an interesting outcome, by which Cunningham received a license to continue production and later, E.T. Cunningham, Inc. was actually an RCA subidiary – so I guess this does make sense.

What makes less sense, though, is that outrageous top. I think I know what it is, but the answer doesn’t make any sense, either. Here’s the Nichols in between an Eversharp Skyline and a later Eversharp, from the late 1940s or early 1950s:

The striped celluloid is exactly the same diameter, and even though the black stripes are more pronounced on the Nichols, I think that might be attributable to normal color variations within a run. As for that top cap, there’s no question that’s the same cap from a later Eversharp – it’s been furred out with a piece of clear celluloid to fit more snugly:

Is this a frankenpencil? Beats me – I suppose anyone motivated enough to want to put these things together could have sawed apart a Skyline and robbed a cap from another Eversharp to do this, but I don’t know why. Could Nichols have bought some leftover stock from Eversharp for a small run of Cunningham pencils, so the advertiser pencils for a little bit different company would themselves be a little bit different? I suppose. For now, I offer this one up as a curiosity. We’ll see what comes out of the woodwork in the years to come.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I really doubt that is Skyline plastic; have never seen stripes that varied that much.