Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Before Salz Was Salz, Part III

(Note: the first part of this story can be found at

Where we left off yesterday, the last mention of the ‘Salrite – and what should have been the eulogy which laid the brand comfortably to rest – was an advertisement from December, 1923, in which the pencils are described as “mottled or black.”   While I understand it’s difficult to hold an advertiser hawking closeouts to strict details concerning the blowout pricing of a discontinued brand, I thought Salrites were made only in black hard rubber:

Until last summer, when this monster popped up in an online auction:

Not just mottled hard rubber, but with gold filled . . . ok, goldish filledish trim?

Note that clip?  It isn’t the usual banded ‘Salrite clip, either.  It appears to be the same clip used on the all-metal ‘Salrites before they were discontinued.  The unmarked cap has some fine detail work to it – it fits neither into the Sta-Sharp nor ‘Salrite usual lines:

It is, however, all ‘Salrite.  All you need do is unscrew the nose to examine the patented spare lead chambers – from which it received the Salz moniker in early advertisements, “The Machine Gun of Commerce”:

So is this an early transitional model, made while all metal pencil clips were still available and before Pencil Products had settled on plain black and plain nickel trim?   Or was it a last gasp, hail Mary attempt to spruce up the brand in late 1923, as suggested by that December advertisement which was the only one to indicate there were mottled hard rubber examples?

I'm still not entirely sure, but I got another clue . . . just before the Chicago show this year, this one popped up online:

Note that the clip and tip, unlike the other example, are nickel plate:

This one has two of those great wide bands:

And on the reverse is a clue not found on any other ‘Salrite:

Chase Pencil Corporation.  I had never heard of the company, and a Google search turned up nothing.  However, when I searched, I did get one hit which might explain a few things:

This “help wanted” advertisement, which ran on November 5, 1924 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, states that the Chase Pencil Corporation was a New York City manufacturer, established three years (the first ads for the ‘Salrite appeared in September, 1921), and still making a “meritorious product.”  It would appear, connecting the dots, that the Chase Pencil Corporation, and not the Pencil Products Corporation, was the actual manufacturer of the ‘Salrite.

I’m still no closer to answering the question of whether these mottled hard rubber examples are from the beginning of the line, at the end of the line, or are a previously undocumented deluxe model that ran the continuum.  Nor am I any closer to knowing exactly what sort of cap this new example would have had, since this one is missing and mix-and-match was apparently par for the course on the Chase Pencil Corporation assembly line.   For the time being, though, I couldn’t believe my luck when this part jumped out of Rob Bader’s junk box at the Raliegh show:

Yeah, it’s a nickel trimmed Salrite cap, complete with “Pencil Products Corp.” and the 1919 patent date, but what the heck:

On a pencil with a nickel plated tip and clip, and wide gold filled bands, who’s to say that’s not what they did?

(Tomorrow:  more about inventor Lucifer Most.  Article is at

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