Sunday, September 11, 2016

And I Called Myself a Pencil Collector

My futile attempts to limit my collecting to American-made pencils tended to exclude pencils like these from my shelves:

The pencil is generally referred to as a “Lund,” for the English patent issued to William Lund in 1856 - I don’t think that’s right, because I found an index of English patents applied for and issued during that year, and the only mention of Lund is with respect to a clip for retaining papers:

Another source indicated that Lund might have purchased his patent rights from a William Riddle, who patented the pencil in 1848; that appears closer to the truth, because I did find a listing for a pencil patented by William Riddle on December 21, 1848:

The index isn’t very helpful, but The June 30, 1849 edition of Mechanics’ Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal and Gazette picked up the Riddle patent and reprinted the entire specification:

If this comes off sounding particularly American, my apologies . . . but pictures would be helpful.  Midway down the left column, though, you can see it: “Or, a slate pencil or other marking substance is placed in the longitudinal groove of a stem which has a spiral cut on its periphery, and extending from end to end.”

Unfortunately, none of the sources I found included drawings, so I don’t have an image to share with you.   Lunds are distinguished by that external corkscrew: a metal band which threads onto the barrel surrounds a bracket, so twisting the band effectively advances and retracts the lead:

I did find a short history of the Lunds on a fan site for one of the company’s other products: corkscrews.  The following is posted over at (the full link is,-london-16693072):

“Thomas Lund first established his business in 1804 . He moved to 57 Cornhill, London in 1814. His main business at the time besides boxes was manufacturing pens and importing filtering stones for water treatment. His profession was inherited from his father who died 1806. In the monthly magazine from 1806 his father was mentioned as the first ivory turner in York.  Logically, Thomas Lund entered the same profession. . . .

“By 1820 he added a copying machine business to the company. However, this seems not has been his main business. Furthermore, he was probably not making corkscrews at this time. At least not what we know of. He still made various boxes and diversified into making dressing cases. These cases usually included a very small corkscrew. There are known cases from around 1815.. . .

“William Lund joined his father 1835 and took over the whole business 1845. Unfortunately, there are not many personal records of the Lund family. In fact, there is nothing in the history books.”

The Lunds were famous for making several other things, including quality boxes.   Another website,, explains that William took over the business in 1845 due to Thomas’ death that year:

“Thomas and William ran their businesses independently, but after Thomas’s death in 1845, William took over the running of both, whilst also expanding his own premises to include 23 Fleet Street. By 1859, the Fleet Street premises had again expanded to include No. 25.

“When William Lund died in 1872, his son Charles continued on the business under the name of William Lund & Son.”

There’s a picture of William Lund at both sites:

At the DC show, I had the opportunity to purchase an entire collection of Victorian pencils and, after reassuring the finance department of the family that yes, we would still be able to have dinner and maybe even some gas money to get home, I pulled the trigger.  Only about a third of the collection is going into mine, including these two:

The smaller of the two is unmarked, but the larger one has “Lund Patentee London” inscribed on the lower portion of the spiral.  I’ve been looking for an example with this detail for a long, long time:

Unmarked examples might have been made after the patent expired, and some commentators have noted that they may not actually have been made by Lund, either.  I don’t know.  

Until this one came my way, the only other pencil in my collection which approached a Lund was the W.P. Wallace “20th Century” pencil, a cheaper American knockoff (the full story. . . or at least as much of it as I know . . . is at

Although I’m still not any closer to knowing more about Mr. Wallace or his 20th Century pencil, I’ve got a better answer to those who have said, “You call yourself a pencil collector and you don’t have a Lund?”

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