Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Also Rans

Two of the “other” pencils out of the 40-pencil lot that yielded a Parker “Ripley” Vacumatic ( were these:

If these two had not both been in the same lot, I might have missed the fact that the desk pencil is an Autopoint – but side by side, the nose sections are a dead giveaway:

The pencil is in the same series as these, which I wrote about last February (see “Shared Custody” at

I’ve never seen one of the pencils in burgundy and black, so the pencil is a score regardless of whether the desk taper is original to the pencil.  But is it?  I’ve never seen an Autopoint desk pencil, but there’s no reason why they wouldn’t have made one – after all, if you really liked desk pencils in the early 1930s, Autopoint would likely have filled your needs.  It wouldn’t have been hard for Autopoint to turn out a taper – and this one has no clip!  I’d still like to see some documentation that Autopoint made a desk pencil.

And then there’s that black pencil.  Although it was the nose on this one that tipped me off that the other was an Autopoint, you might have noticed that the clip is much different from the ball clip seen on the models comparable to that desk pencil:

But what’s really odd is that cap – almost a transitional piece between the round caps with the little hump on top and the later “diamond cut” faceted clips.  That “jewel” on the top is faceted:

As I went through my Autopoint stash looking for something comparable, I did find two other examples which are from this series.  The reason I couldn’t remember seeing this cap before must have been because it wasn’t the most distinctive feature on the other two I found:

Them are some wild colors.  I do think transitional is an apt description, from round to diamond cut caps.

And speaking of wild colors . . . with an odd twist . . . here’s something that came in a plastic baggie of pencils I picked up for next to nothing at an antique show – and no, this one wasn’t the reason I bought the bag:

You’ll note this one has a nearly identical clip, although this one is marked “Realite” - the original name of what would become of the Autopoint Products Co. after Realite purchased Autopoint.  Autopoint continued to use the brand name from time to time, and the easiest way to spot a Realite is that short, short metal tip.   This series must have been contemporary to the Autopoints pictured above, and there’s a whole bunch of really bizarre and unique plastics that were used on these Realites.  What stands out on this one, however,  is that anachronistic cap.  Here’s what you would expect the cap to look like:

In fact, I’m sure this cap has been swapped over from something else – the cap from the red one fits perfectly on the brown example.

The fine detailing on the top of that gold filled cap suggest that while the cap itself isn’t right, the bloodline is: that’s an early Autopoint cap from the mid to late 1920s.

Did it come from the factory like that?  I think this falls into the “who knows, who cares” pile.  Yes, it could be that before this one was shipped, some worker put an old Autopoint cap on the top of a brown/blue Realite.  Sure, it could be that a customer just wanted his advertising pencils to have a little unique twist to set their pencils apart – as if that color didn’t do the trick – and with a few old caps laying around, Autopoint Products was happy to oblige.

But if it’s that easy to “make” a rare variant from common parts, would I pay any more than I would for an Autopoint gold filled cap and a Realite pencil missing the cap?  No I wouldn’t – any more than I would pay for a “rare transitional model” like this:

Yeah. No.  Forget I did that.

Update: after some discussion on Facebook, two other points bear mention:

1.  The clip was the subject of design patent number 115,544, issued to Frank Deli and Eric Patau, applied for on March 29, 1939 and issued July 4, 1939:

2.  The patent history isn’t very helpful, because the clip was used earlier than 1939.  In an article I posted here about a year ago (, I showed two Realite pencils, both dated 1937, one of which has an earlier ball-style clip and the other bears this clip, suggesting the Realite brand transitioned to this clip two years before the patent was issued:

3.  Mike Little questioned whether the Autopoint shown in this article might be simply a Realite with an Autopoint clip, but I think it’s more complicated than that.  Realites have much shorter metal tips, and the Realite nose sections are not compatible with Autopoints with the same clip:

No comments: