Friday, November 18, 2016

Asked and Answered

Note:  this is a continuation of yesterday's article at

It’s not often that I get this lucky.

In yesterday’s installment, I was noting some differences between what I believe to be the earliest Dur-O-Lite pencil, the top one in this picture:

Without the missing ferrule, though, all I could do is speculate about a few things and promise to keep a sharp eye out for these in future . . . and so, with that article uploaded and ready to post yesterday, I sharpened my eyes and headed off for the Ohio Show.

Where I found this:

Note that this one has the same shorter tip, and this one also has an early imprint suggesting production in the first year or so of Dur-O-Lite’s existience: “Memphis 1927":

A survey of my other bolted-clip Dur-O-Lites reveals one other example with that same straight, ribbed clip.  All the others have a more familiar bell top:

I pulled the tips off of these three examples to see how they compared, and a clear evolutionary path emerged.  The shorter tips butt up more cleanly against the end of the barrel; later, the tip was lengthened to fit over a more pronounced shoulder, for greater stability, and this shoulder was lengthened even further later on:

My working theory as I wrote yesterday’s article was that the more flowery imprints on the caps were earlier, and that the straight top was likely what we’d find on the earlier examples, and that appears to be correct:

The imprint on my Memphis 1927 example has the more ornate imprint:

And there’s just one difference between the top ends of this one and that red example:

The Memphis 1927 example has a friction fit upper ferrule.  I think it’s safe to say now that the Dur-O-Lite as originally introduced had (1) a bolted clip, (2) a shorter tip which butted up against the barrel rather than sliding over the end of it, (3) a friction-fit upper ferrule, (4) a more ornate imprint and (5) a straight, ribbed eraser cap.  Threads were quickly added to the upper ferrule to better secure it, along with a more pronounced shoulder and a longer tip at the other end.  A crown cap replaced the straight cap, and plain straight ferrules were added with exposed eraser.  Finally, the imprints were simplified, and other clip styles were added.  There appears to have been a lot of overlap as new features were added, and older, obsolete parts were used up rather than being discarded.

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