A few weeks ago, an Englishwoman named Karen Price ordered the electronic version of my pencil book, The Catalogue of American Mechanical Pencils. As we chatted via email, she indicated she was studying for a Master's Degree in the History of Design, and she was writing an essay about her grandmother's Eversharp.
Then, after she’d digested my book for a few days, she dropped a bombshell. Oh, by the way, she said . . . she found a 1913 advertisement for Eversharp, “in case it is of interest to you.”
This advertisement was published in System: The Magazine of Business in December, 1913 – the month Charles Keeran first test-marketed his new Eversharp pencils at Wanamaker’s in New York, and eight months earlier than what I thought was the earliest advertisement, published in the Bloomington Pantagraph in July, 1914.
How this advertisement has eluded American researchers for so long is a mystery – the magazine was digitized by Google from a copy at the University of Michigan, yet try as I might, I can’t replicate the words in this article and get a hit. I’m thinking whatever makes the English search engines work better than American ones is good enough for me to fly to England and camp out with a good wi-fi connection for a few days!
About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about what the very first Eversharp pencils looked like (http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-very-first-ever-sharps-looked-like.html). In my years of collecting, I’ve turned up ten examples of the Heath clip Ever Sharp (two words) pencils, but all of these have Keeran’s rifled tip, which he patented in 1914:
As I noted in my earlier article, though, Charles Keeran’s original patent drawings show a wooden plug in the place of that tip:
This 1913 advertisement answers, once and for all, what those very first Eversharps Keeran marketed at Wanamakers in 1913 looked like. At the nose, it looked almost like it was missing the tip - Keeran’s wooden plug apparently was cut flush with the end of the barrel for the sake of appearances:
And the rendering of the other end of the pencil answers, once and for all, who was making Eversharps from the very beginning:
That clearly shows Heath’s patent pending clip. The first Eversharps were made by Heath.
You’ll notice I didn’t say “Ever Sharp” (two words) this time?
Keeran originally went with the one word version, then later – after he named his company “Eversharp Pencil Company,” changed it to two words, likely in the face of objections by the makers of another pencil called the “Eversharp” (see “Eversharp (the other one)” in the categories at right).