Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Useful Chronology

Online sellers of advertisements are rarely willing to tell you from what publication they clipped a particularly useful page – they know that if someone finds a copy of the whole magazine for $5, they won’t be able to sell them one stinkin’ page for twenty bucks.

That hurts twice: I paid a lot more for the advertisements in this article than I probably ever would have paid for the publications, but more importantly some of the provenance (sigh . . . had to use that word again) tends to be lost in the process.  The following advertisements were dated by an online seller who refused to divulge from what publications they were clipped; however, on the positive side the dates were in the listing titles and they appear to make sense.  If anyone recognizes where these came from, please let me know.

Our topic today is the Gold Medal, which I theorize is ground zero for the whole Gold Bond-Gold Medal-Diamond Medal-Webster and such family.  I believe Gold Medal was Clarence E. Barrett’s own house brand of writing instruments – the ones he produced on his own account rather than for Sears, Montgomery Ward or what have you.  If I’m right in believing that, a series of advertisements from the 1930s would be very helpful in assembling an evolutionary timeline for all of these brands.

The advertisements I acquired from this seller were dated (by him) 1932, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938 and 1943.  Starting with the earliest, from 1932:

This tells us a few things.  First, the earlier Rex-made pencils, like these, had been discontinued by 1932:

Note also that the clips in the 1932 advertisement match those shown on these:

If I’m right and Parker’s patent litigation  put an end to the production of the Rex flattops in 1929 (see “My Working Theory” at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/12/my-working-theory.html), that would date these pencils in this picture to 1930 or 1931.

Here’s what’s next:

Note that the top one is fitted with a z-clip inserted through a slot in the barrel – that one is a match for what is in the 1932 advertisement.  The lower example, however, has a pressed clip that is stapled into the barrel:

The 1932 advertisement does show some press clip models on the last page; note, however, that all are shown under a caption which reads, “Made by the Makers of the famous Gold Medal Pens” (all the other captions read simply “Gold Medal Pens”), and all have floral engraving on the clips rather than the Gold Medal name.   The pens are shown with a number 3 nib for a lower price of $3.00, while the regular line was $5.00 sporting a number 5 nib.   In 1932, the newer clip style was used with floral engraved clips on the lower-quality line of pens and pencils.

I believe that the Gold Medal name was applied to all of the newer style clips in 1933.  Note that since both flattop and pointed top pencils are offered in the 1932 catalog, I should think this set would also date to 1933 . . .

. . . because, for 1934, short-cap pencils appear to have been replaced by middle-joint pencils:

If they made pencils to match all the pens in 1934, these were offered in both pointy and black flattop models, depending on which you preferred.  These are the pencils I had concluded were made by Sheaffer – at least on the inside – in “What Lurks Within” at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-lurks-within.html):

Did you notice in the 1934 ad those over-the-top clips and intricate center bands on the other models?

I’ve seen those and, unfortunately, let them slip through my fingers . . . all the ones I’ve seen were unmarked so I didn’t know what they were.  I’ll have to make sure to divert the next one that comes my way.  The band is nearly identical to what I’ve seen on pens marked “Ottawa Pen Company” and made by Conklin – could that be?  There’s another research project for a rainy day.

These over-the-top clip models also appear in the 1936 advertisement, which appears to have been a transitional year in the Gold Medal line.

The pens at the top appear very Parkerish.  Again, I’ve seen the pencils, which were unmarked; I’ve had those “professional” models like the ones shown in the upper left, which bore the later “Gold Medal Pen” logo within a small circle.   Even though the 1937 ad was identical, I bought it anyway, just to show that the product line remained unchanged:

For 1938, the product lineup was noticeably lower in quality.  I think I’ve seen the pencils, which were also unmarked - but I don’t have any to show you right now (I’ll have to comb through my junk boxes now).  All of these appear to have been made by Parker - note the Parkette clips at the lower left and the Parker streamline Duofold profile on the pens at the top:

The last advertisement was attributed to 1943, for “most acceptable gifts”:

I can offer a picture of some of the things this advertisement shows:

The top and middle examples perfectly match the “Ink Lock” and “Men’s Pen,” respectively.  The bottom example, which is actually marked “C.E. Barrett,” isn’t an exact match for the “Aristocrat” in the center of the picture, but probably reflects the stylistic popularity of metal caps and plain barrels after the introduction of the Parker 51.

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