Monday, September 19, 2016

A New One On Me

I’m always a sucker for a pencil with a patent date I haven’t seen before, so when this one surfaced online I was a victim of my weakness:

This is one hefty bit of Victorian goodness, with a mechanism that turns in the middle like a Fairchild or Mabie Todd, but this one is different:

“Pat. June 27, 1865.”  Thanks to a handy book on the subject (forgive a little self promotion, but I wrote American Writing Instrument Patents 1799-1910 first and foremost as a handy tool for my own research, and it works like a charm), within a minute I had found Frederick W. Cox’s patent number 48,374:

Now if you dig into who Frederick W. Cox was, you’ll find a lot of stuff about the Mormon who was tight with Brigham Young himself and got mixed up in some interesting . . . um, cross pollination over in Utah.  This isn’t that guy.  Our Frederick Cox does appear in the Brooklyn City directories, in 1862 as a jeweler residing at 386 Atlantic:

. . . in 1863 as a “pencil maker” residing at 79 Main:

in 1864, as a jeweler, still  residing at 79 Main:

And  in 1865, with the simple designation “rubber” and with a residence of 64 Poplar:

I’ll call my pencil a Cox for several reasons, the first being that is to whom the patent was issued and there’s no other markings on the pencil to suggest someone else either made or produced it for him under license or as assignee.  It also has some unique features, such as the more significant heft of the piece as well as a mechanism that is significantly more robust than what you’d normally encounter.  Last, consider that other than one other example which surfaced online just after this one did, these just don’t seem to turn up, and I think I found the reason for that:

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 1, 1866, our man Frederick W. Cox passed away, probably sometime earlier in 1866.  His name doesn’t appear in the 1866 Brooklyn City Directory, so it appears that Cox’s career was a short one, spanning just four or five years.

1 comment:

Bob Blackburn said...

Hi Jon... While revisiting some of my collection recently I came across a seemingly identical pencil to the Frederick Cox in your collection. It has the June 27, 1865 date on the lower half of the barrel - "Pat. June 27, 1865". In addition, the upper barrel actually has the Goodyears Patent date imprinted on it - "Goodyears Pat May 6 51". I purchased mine back in 2005. It is also quite "hefty" relative to other similar pencils in terms of larger diameter. It is 3.25" closed and 4.25" when opened.

Thanks for sorting out the mystery!