Thursday, October 6, 2016

Odd Bedfellows

At the DC Supershow I found this great pencil on Andy Beliveau’s table:

If you pull on the crown, the top extends to give you a little more length:

The button on the top pushes down to open up the prongs and accept the lead, just like an Eagle Automatic “Stop Gauge”:

The Stop Gauge was the earliest of what I refer to as “leadholder” pencils – the clamp-down style of pencil still popular among both draftsmen and artists.  The modern technical drawing pencil and those 5.6mm sketch pencils are both direct descendants of these.   One of my first posts here at the blog discussed these (see

The Stop Gauge was originally invented by Joseph Hoffman, who received two patents issued on March 25 and May 20, 1879.  The design was later refined by Claes Boman, who received three patents for various incarnations of the pencil, all on July 7, 1885.

Here’s Hoffman’s second 1879 patent, number 215,521:

Even though my pencil operates the same way mechanically, though, Andy’s pencil is stamped “Fairchild,” for Leroy W. Fairchild:

Was this a case of piracy?   No.  Some time ago, David Nishimura offered me another pencil along these lines, shown here:

This one lacks the extender on the top end, but the pencil has the same push-button, Stop Gauge mechanism:

This one is a little rough, due to a more lightweight, thin-walled construction more typical of an Eagle than what you’d expect to find on a higher-quality Fairchild.  This one also has the Fairchild stamp on the nose:

But the top makes it clear that there was an unlikely collaboration between Fairchild and Eagle:

“Eagle Pencil Co. / Pat. May 20. 79.”

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