Thursday, January 5, 2017

Back to Sioux City

Here’s an updated family picture of my Kaligraf pencils, those lever-advance pencils made by the General Manufacturing Company of Sioux City, Iowa.  I won’t say they are “lever filled,” because the lever scoots the lead forward a bit as you press it flush with the barrel from the raised position.

I’ve written about these before here, at  Last year, Joe and I got all of ours together for another one of those shots you won’t see:

The straight side clip model was Joe’s until he traded it to me at the Ohio Show - he has picked up a second example with an unusual feature: a green top cap:

But what prompts me to revisit the issue is the really weird roller clip, the lowermost example in that first picture:

It attaches to the barrel the same way, but instead of an upturned tang at the end of the clip, this one wraps around a little metal barbell that remains free to turn:

Although it might look like a really elegant design, there’s only one problem: on the thin round barrel of the pencil, it doesn’t work as a roller clip because the roller’s don’t even touch the barrel:

There’s no record of this clip that I can find in the patent record, and the only markings on the pencil are the usual Borbeck patent imprint.  As soon as I had won this one in an online auction, I was excited to post a picture in an online discussion group, and I mentioned that I had not seen a clip like this one anywhere.  Andrew Timar, on the other hand, had:

Andrew’s clip is an accommodation model marked “Made in Japan,” fitted on a glass-nibbed crescent filling pen similar to those imported by Spors – but unlike most, not marked with the Spors trademark on the crescent.  Spors was an importer of German and Japanese novelties during the early 1930s; I wrote about them a while back after I figured out that their trademark was the one I had found on a pencil I had consigned to the dead letter office (

The products Spors imported  were usually imitative of the products of others; hence the replication of a Conklin Crescent Filler.  Here’s a couple other examples of Spors imports I’ve picked up along the way:

The “Lady Spors” ringtop is nothing unusual, but note that the “Spors” incorporates a version of Conklin’s Mooney clip.

I’m careful to say at this point that we don’t know that Spors was responsible for importing all of them, so Andrew’s unmarked example might have come from another source.  Nevertheless, I am confident that whoever made Andrew’s pen copied the clip from somewhere – the Spors glass-nib pens were introduced around 1930, about a decade after the Kaligraf, so maybe that was the inspiration.

If, however, this clip is traced to another source, perhaps this might tell us more about the history behind them.  

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