Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Last Gasp For Dunn?

From yesterday’s story, we know the Dunn Pen Company failed in April, 1924, was revived shortly after by Dunn Pen & Pencil, Inc., which purchased the assets and goodwill (such as it was) of the former company, and which appears to have vanished by 1926, judging from the end of advertising or other mentions of the company after then.


At the DC show this year, I purchased a collection of pencils on Friday morning.  Larry Liebman and I spent most of the day combing through them - I didn’t even set up with the things I brought with me.  Larry said he had almost as much fun rummaging through this bunch as if he’d purchased the collection himself.  An Tran was wandering around snapping a few pictures at the show, and he caught Larry and I in action that day:

This collection was the sort of thing where all I could do during the negotiations was rifle through a few things on the surface, see if there was a reasonable number of things I’d want to add to my collection, and then hope that there was roughly that proportion of things that would tickle my fancy in the layers below.   This time, everything panned out and I was very happy with what stayed in my collection (as well as with the number of things I didn’t want that sold the next day).   Here was one of those things I saw on the surface that caused me to pull the trigger:

I’ve seen pencils like these marked with a variety of names: Keen Point, Weidlich, Ajax, Radium Point . . . who the source was for all these has yet to be discovered.  Most along these lines are plain except for the name of the customer for whom they were produced, printed on the cap.  (Take note: want one of these brands in a color you haven’t seen before?  Don’t pay a premium, because you can just swap caps.)  This one, however, has the name on the clip:

“Nu Dunn.”   A bit of searching around turned up a few online auctions for flattop pens sporting this same clip, a combo or two, but no pencils – and nothing to indicate when or by whom they were made.  I doubt these were turned out in 1925 or 1926, since celluloid pencils hadn’t generally trickled down to third tier production by that date, and I think I’ve even got one of these pencils sporting a 1930 imprint (which one escapes me at the moment).  As to the Keen Point branding, in an earlier article here I tracked down Charles Keeran’s trademark registration and dated that one to 1928 or later.

Did Dunn Pen and Pencil limp along for a few years later?  Possibly - just because a company ceases advertising doesn’t necessarily mean it ceased operations, and if its death was slow decline rather than a spectacular bankruptcy (as had been the case for its predecessor), its demise likely wouldn’t have been newsworthy enough to merit a mention in the press.

It’s also possible that some other producer scooped up the name, which was likely all that was left of the company by 1927, brushed it off and had it slapped on generic pencils wholly unrelated to the innovative pens that built the company’s reputation.  Nu . . but not Impruved.

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