Wednesday, August 31, 2016

More Clues Than Any Other

I forgot all about this example of a Gold Bond when I posted those other articles recently – I apparently overlooked it because it was in a box:

This example, like the other transitional members with Sheaffer works, has some unusual design features: note the odd placement of trim rings:

The barrel is stamped with the usual “Gold Bond / Stonite” imprint . . .

 . . . but this clearly isn’t the same material.  The usual robust plastics used on Gold Bonds don’t crystallize like this:

I bought it knowing about the damage, partly because the pencil is so unusual for a Gold Bond and partly because you never see these with the original paperwork:

Huh.  The pencil pictured doesn’t resemble the pencil that came in the box – or any other Gold Bond I’ve seen, for that matter.   I am sure based on outward appearances that the mechanism inside this pencil was made by Sheaffer, although I’m not going to try to extract it as fragile as this material is.  If Sheaffer had greater involvement in the manufacture of these, supplying whole pencils to National Pen Products, I’d expect to see some similarities between the pencil instruction sheets for a Sheaffer Balance and this – if not identical pictures of the products, at least I’d expect to see identical language.

Come to think of it, though, I haven’t seen an early Sheaffer Balance instruction sheet . . . anyone have one we can compare to this?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The LeBoeuf Post

Looking back through all the pictures I’ve taken and haven’t posted yet, I was surprised when I ran across all my LeBoeuf pictures that I haven’t run an article on the company yet. The company, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, remains well-known (rightly or wrongly) for popularizing the use of brightly colored celluloids, which the company introduced in the early 1920s.

LeBoeuf pencils suffer from what I call “matching pen syndrome,” by which I mean that the prices they usually command are influenced heavily by the high asking prices for the pens they accompanied.  Most of the LeBoeuf pencils I’ve seen – with the exception of the celluloid barrels – were made by Cross, which manufactured identical pencils under the Cross “Alwrite” brand.  Here’s a selection of the thinner side clip ones:

And here’s the ringtop version - note that the tip is a two-piece affair, and the tips are notorious for coming off and going missing:

A few months ago, I picked up three of the more scarce oversized models.  Even though these might be Cross rebadges, the sheer size and beauty of these pencils can’t help but cause me to stand up and take notice:

At the DC show last year – or was it the year before – Mike Bloom had these two on his table.   I’m equally certain these can be attributed to Cross, although judging from their construction and the barrel material used, I believe these were a little earlier:

The price stickers don’t hurt:

This next one I’m having difficulty attributing to Cross – it has a very C.E. Barrett look to it with that generously wide triple band, and the plastic looks almost like modern acrylic.

But the crown jewel in this pencil collector’s LeBoeuf section – or any LeBoeuf pencil collection – has to be this one:

This is one of the only examples of a magic pencil made with a celluloid barrel:

In fact, there’s only one other manufacturer who was manufacturing magic pencils into the mid-1920s, when these were probably made . . .

Yep.  That would be Cross:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Why I Have So Damned Many

I’ve been trying to get better about keeping duplicates out of my collection, so when I upgrade something I’m happy to take what it replaces to the next show and release it back into the wild.

When it’s a duplicate...

Take this, for example:

This WASP Clipper isn’t one you see very often, and to find it on a price card?  With spare leads and erasers?  Yeah, the paper is a little ragged, but when have you ever seen a WASP product card?  Oh, and with a price sticker???

Wow – a dollar price tag, with fifteen cents’ worth of erasers, plus a container of lead – all for 95 cents?

So, I figured, I’d take the one in my collection with me to the Triangle Show, where I would have no trouble finding it a new home.  Except I hadn’t noticed a couple things:

First off, the example I have is missing the eraser, and then there’s the clips . . .

The one which came with a product card has that neat WASP clip with a stylized “W” at the top, while the example I already had is adorned with a flat clip.  So even though the pencils are otherwise identical, including the imprints, I guess I’ll keep both of them.

Speaking of imprints, this next one was an accident.  I fell in love with it when it showed up in an auction:

When it arrived, I was excited to take it to the museum and see how it looked next to the other colors and . . .

Dang.  I already had one, and the color on the one I had was nicer than the new addition.  But, as I always do before I consign something to the sale pile, I took a closer look, and whaddaya know:

One is a Clipper, while the other is a "Thinline."

And then there was this . . . one of these, I don’t remember which, came from the Philadelphia “Snow Bowl” show of 2016, at which I was a little bored, with cash in my pocket, and buying a pencil knowing it was probably a duplicate but picking it up because it was sooooo cheap:

and on closer examination:

One has the earlier "WASP/Vacuum-Fil Pen Co." imprint.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Demonstrating Something New

A few months ago on Facebook, my friend in Switzerland Guillaume Chappuis posted a picture of a few pencils he had lounging about the Alps, and one in particular caught my eye:

It’s a Superite, made by DeWitt-LaFrance, and the patent pending language on both the clip and the barrel of the pencil indicates a date of manufacture between late 1919  and mid-1920:

The pencil is made of what many manufacturers referred to as “silni,” for silver nickel (Matt McColm corrected me.  Says Matt:  "Nickel silver, German silver, alpacca, silni are all names for a copper-nickel-zinc alloy that resembles silver in color, but contains no silver."), and the three-diamond pattern typical of DeWitt-LaFrance pencils is found on the barrel:

But what sets this example apart is that it is a demonstrator, with carefully placed holes revealing all the business going on inside:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What It Must Be

When this Eversharp turned up online, it was one of those things I looked at, and looked at again, and came back again an hour later, because something just didn’t look quite right:

I think I’ve got it placed now, although the answer doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Remember the Equipoised “Purse” and “Clasp” pencils?

That’s ten out of the eleven known colors -- or maybe eleven out of the twelve (see  The “purse” pencils, the five on the left in this picture, were in “girlier” colors and had a single, deco-decorated band.  The “clasp” pencils, on the left, were found in “maniler” colors and were distinguished by a pair of plain, thinner bands.   I think the clasp pencils are the nearest relatives to this one:

Note that there’s just one difference: on the ringtop, the break between cap and lower barrel falls below the bands, while the clasp pencils break in between the bands. So I guess this was supposed to be the ladies’ version of the manly part in the least manly line?

Speaking of purse and clasp pencils, I've got a nice set to show you as well:

The color on this NOS set is superb, and the only thing more I could ask for would be the lid for the box.  I fished around on Facebook and heard that the lid was cardboard, and if I see one, I’ll post a picture of it.

This is that mysterious color, which may or may not be what was called “Ceylon Pearl” in Eversharp’s 1932 catalog.  The catalog shows Ceylon Pearl, but the color is more of a greyish/pinkish hue than what you see here.  Unless the colors were wildly off in the catalog, this is an unnamed twelfth color.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Why You've Never Heard of the Eagle Ultramatic

When this boxload surfaced online, I had to bite.  The pencils didn’t look that great, but I’d never heard of the Eagle “Ultramatic”:

Inside were a complete dozen Eagles, two each of red, yellow, teal and blue, and four black ones:

The barrels are unmarked, but are decorated with neat lines on each facet:

The clips look very Scripto-like:

And under the caps, the works look very Scripto-like, as well:

Neat as they may look, they aren’t much good as pencils.  The plastic used has shrunk so tightly on all of these that all are forever stuck.   That may have a lot to do with why they never caught on.  I also wondered, given their similarity to Scripto pencils, whether the Atlanta firm might have put a stop to these pretty quickly.

The box had some other information on it which I thought might provide some answers:

1936 is quite a bit earlier than the transparent Scriptos of the 50s these reminded me of.  And there’s two patents listed.  The first, number 1,859,433, was applied for by Isador Chesler on October 18, 1930 and was issued on May 24, 1932 – and it applied to an eraser retainer not found on the “Ultramatic”:

The same day he applied for the patent for his eraser, Chesler also applied for a patent for a pencil, which looks like it might be for our pencil, and the drawings are about the most complicated I’ve ever seen for a pencil patent:

And yet, the damned things don’t work.  Go figure.