Monday, November 14, 2016

A Bit More Complete

You might recall the article I posted here some time ago suggesting that Sheaffer’s white dot was derived from Dunhill’s “white spot guarantee,” named for the white spot the English pipe manufacturer put on the stems of its pipes.  The article was posted at, and it all started with this Dunhill pencil:

Since I was editor of the Pennant at the time, I asked a few people whether the article was “Pennant-worthy,” and after receiving favorable responses I reworked the article for print - no small task, since off-the-cuff blogese needs to be translated into something suitable for print as much as if I’d written it in Russian or something.  It’s surprising how much more difficult it is to write for print, since an article published in print is . . . forever.  There are no takesy backsies, no “unpublish” buttons, and if you’ve goofed, your only option is to publish a correction in the next issue and hope someone reads it.

I don’t think I goofed, and the finished piece appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of The Pennant. Out of all the issues I did, I think this one made me the most proud and it certainly generated the most favorable comments out of all of them:

Since my tradition as editor was to place a pencil on the “crossbar” of each issue, using it to cross the letter “A” in “Pennant” on the cover, my Dunhill pencil served with distinction in that issue:

Joe Nemecek provided a nice footnote to the Dunhill story at the DC show, when he allowed me to photograph this:

Wait a tick . . .

I had always assumed, but never had the occasion to say, that the flared top of the Dunhill pencil was for gripping, so you could pull out a smoker’s tool, kind of like the “Pen-O-Pencil” from

But tug as I might, I was convinced that the plastic had shrunk and constricted around the smoker’s tool inside, leaving me unable to pull out the top without breaking it.  Since the story at the time was about the dot rather than the pencil itself, I left it be.

Good thing, because I was half right.  Pulling the top off would have broken the pencil, but it had nothing to do with shrinkage:

The flared top itself is the tamper, and it isn’t supposed to come off.  The spike is exposed when the cap is unscrewed.

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