Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Before Salz Was Salz, Part II

(Note: the first part of this story can be found at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/09/before-salz-was-salz-part-i.html).

Sometime in 1921, The Pencil Products Corporation adapted Lucifer J. Most’s existing design to a large, hard rubber pencil.  Every time I’ve picked one up, it has a little different ring here, or a variation on the imprint there.   I haven’t released one back into the wild as a duplicate yet:

One thing most examples have in common - other than the black hard rubber barrels - is the great imprints you’ll find on the caps:

“Pencil Products Corp. / Pat. Dec. 23, 1919" on the metal cap, and on the barrel, “Pat. Dec. 23, 1919 / Other Pending.”  The “others pending” doubtless refers to Lucifer J. Most’s 1922 patent, which was applied for in 1918 but wasn’t issued until 1922.

Another feature to nearly all (we’ll get to that qualifier later) ‘Salrites is the clip, which is a one-piece affair which wraps around the barrel:

Although these clips are marked “Pat. Pend.” in various places, I’ve never found a patent which was issued during this time frame.   Either one was applied for but never issued, was ultimately denied, or was filed in some other country or not at all:

The first mention I found of the new hard rubber ‘Salrites is in this advertisement run by James McCreery & Co., a New York City department store.  The advertisement ran in the September 7, 1921 issue of the New York Evening World:

Judging from the advertising which followed, the new hard rubber Salrites were a spectacular hit.  Pencil Products Corporation (not Salz Brothers, you’ll note) ran full page advertisements in The New York Times between October and December, 1921:

But in 1922, there appeared to have been something of a shakeup over at Pencil Products Corporation.  The Harrisburg Telegraph ran an advertisement for the ‘Salrite on March, 1922, and you’ll note that a tiny “z” has been interposed in the middle of the name . . . were the Salz family literally squeezing out their partner and the inventor of the pencil, Lucifer Most?

Just a month later, in an advertisement that ran in the Evening World on April 24, 1922, James McCreery & Co. announced that Pencil Products had ceased manufacturing metal pencils.

And on September 24, 1922, Lucifer J. Most applied for a patent for another new pencil – it was issued on September 1, 1925 as number 1,551,604 and was assigned – wait for it – to Mabie Todd:

More on that one tomorrow.

Then came the company’s legal problems: The Sandfelder Corporation, owner of the “Shur Rite” trademark for mechanical pencils, objected to Pencil Products’ attempt to register ‘Salrite as a trademark, claiming that the names sounded so similar that the public might be confused.  It seemed like a stretch to me, but when I read the initial announcement in Geyer’s Stationer of the Sta-Sharp pencil from yesterday’s article, that reference to the Salz “Shur Hold” clip got me to thinking there was probably much more evidence of Salz capitalizing on the Shur Rite trade mark than came to light in this decision.  Ultimately, the Patent office denied registration of the trademark on grounds of likelihood of confusion: that’s a death sentence for the name, since one such finding would inevitably lead to an injunction from using the name by the Federal Trade Commission.

As the decision was announced in March, 1923, ‘Salrites were already being sold at huge discounts.  An advertisement for the pencils in the March 13, 1923 issue of the Winnipeg Tribune indicated that the factory was changing ownership:

And on August 20, 1923, another advertisement in the same paper indicated that “an old firm taken over by new management has been busy disposing of stock on hand:

The last reference I could find to ‘Salrites being offered for sale was in an inconspicuous advertisement in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, which ran on December 6, 1923:

Wait a tick . . . “3 sizes – mottled and black”??

(Tomorrow . . . "mottled and black."  See http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/09/before-salz-was-salz-part-iii.html.)

1 comment:

Paul said...

I really enjoy reading about the findings from your research on all the early pencils. I have only a few vintage pencils my self that are most 1940 through 1970. Most of my collection is not vintage and is heavily Japanese drafting pencils (I have near 100). I wish I had time to go to a show where I could see more what I was buying.