Thursday, March 5, 2015

Giving This One a Long Overdue Thought

I’ve had two of these for quite some times, and I’d never given them much of a thought:

The third one came my way when Matt McColm asked if there was room at Jon’s Home for Wayward Pencils a few weeks ago - of course there was, I’d told him, and in that little bunch was the third one of these, but instead of a smooth gold-plated top, the one Matt sent had a blue Sheaffer eraser crudely stuffed into the top. I pulled out the eraser and noticed that the cup underneath it looked like it might be the same top, just upside down:

Try as I might, I was unable to pull the cup out to see if I could reverse it, but when I pulled on the top, something else happened.

The whole top came off to reveal an aluminum bushing stamped "Patent 1,943,792." Of course I dropped everything and darted to my computer to see what this was all about:

Kenneth A. Garvey applied for his patent on May 4, 1932 and it was granted on January 16, 1934. His patent was assigned to the Wahl Company, but I never associated his invention with this pencil, since Wahl didn’t adopt the distinctive shape of the cap shown in his drawings.

Garvey’s invention was twofold: on the one hand, as figure 4 in the center of these drawings shows, you could double your eraser life with a double ended, reversible eraser unit. However, that application was incidental to his central idea: to provide the convenience of an exposed eraser which could be stowed away when not in use, both to protect the eraser from grime and hardening as well as to give the pencil a neater, sleeker appearance.

So I took one of the ones with the flush gold top, pulled it off and turned it around . . .

The rounded edges of the cup neatly self-centered the cap as I pushed it down onto the bushing, pushing the cap in and . . .

Whaddaya know!

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