Saturday, June 17, 2017

Both Shoes

There are times when I see something and I know right off the bat what the title of the article is going to be.  The title of this one was going to be “The Other Shoe,” because I was so sure I had written about it before:

The pencil is made by the Eagle Pencil Company, and this one has one of those great names I love to see on an early Eagle: this one is the “Eagle Rocket”:

So as I sat down to start this article, title already firmly planted in my head, the first thing I did was open up the blog and scroll down to the Eagle Rocket.  Eagle Prestige, Eagle Ritaway . . . Eagle Russett . . . wait, where did I put that article?  I went back to the general Eagle category, in which non-model specific Eagle articles are filed . . . nothing there, either.

Huh.  Where did I put that article?  I went back through the picture archive for the blog, and it wasn’t there, either, so as a last resort, I opened a vast file folder on my laptop titled “pencil pictures,” a nearly bottomless pit of images into which I dip a digital bucket from time to time, drawing inspiration and material for the articles I write here.  Fortunately, since last winter I invested a week or so to go through and renamed all the images by brand, it isn’t as much the wilderness it used to be. Within a few minutes I’d found the pictures I took – and never used – of the Eagle Rocket.  They were pretty bad, taken in the days before friends had introduced me to the wonders of aperture priority and spot metering, so I had to reshoot them.  

I digress.  The point is that I abandoned the article and my unfinished research.  How in the world could I not post about something as cool as the “Rocket,” made in the days of Jules Verne or Orson Wells?  It has to do with that odd-looking accommodation clip:

“Pat. Nov. 9th 1920,” the imprint reads:

Turning to that outstanding resource on the subject (shameless plug), American Writing Instrument Patents Vol. 2 1911-1945, within two shakes I found a patent on that date by Eagle’s prolific inventor-in-residence, Claes Boman, number 1,358,511, and . . .

That isn’t it.  Not even close.


Fortunately, according to that most excellent resource, I know there were two patents issued for clips on November 9, 1920.  The other one, number 1,358,338, is a dead ringer for this one . . .

Ok, maybe half a dead ringer.  The drawings show a two-piece clip featuring an outer cover, from which the ball of the clip is pressed, wrapped around an accommodation clip with that same goofy shape and a hole in it:

The patent was applied for by William M. Saunders of Waterbury, Connecticut on January 15, 1920, and it was assigned to his company, the Hoge Manufacturing Company, makers of the ubiquitous “Pal” pencils as well as an interesting pencil called the “Modern” (not to be confused with A.A. Waterman’s “Modern Pen Company” – see

That’s when I remembered why and how the uber-cool Eagle Rocket slipped quietly into the dead letter office.  I thought it was a bit lame to write about half an accommodation clip, and I figured maybe someday the other shoe would drop.

Yesterday the mailman arrived, and there it was . .  thump.

I bid on this lot for the pen case that came with it.  The auction listing indicated that it was for a collection of pencils “with case,” but since the case wasn’t shown in the first picture, I guess nobody noticed.  I got everything for $15.50 . . . with free shipping.  I didn’t even care about the pencils.

Still, there were a couple interesting things in there.  The one that really caught my attention was that grey and red one with the weird silver cap – now that I have it in hand, I know it’s just a dumb ol’ Cavalier with something stuck in place of the right cap that happens to fit really well.  That gold one I’ll probably write about, so I’m going to keep it under wraps for the time being.  In the top row, there’s a Parker Challenger with a broken lower barrel badly superglued back together, and a crappy Essex.

And then there was that last one . . . I recognized it as probably being a Biltwell with the clip broken off and replaced with some random accommodation clip, which is exactly what it proved to be . . .

But what a clip!

It took a lot of wrestling to get that clip off the Biltwell, but fortunately the half a clip on the Rocket slipped off easily:

And the Rocket “rocketed” from uber-cool to . . . whatever you want to call something a few steps above that:

I have no evidence that the Hoge clip is correct on the Eagle Rocket, but I find it an extraordinary coincidence that Saunder’s patent was issued the same day as a clip patented by Eagle, and the first of only two I’ve seen turned up on an Eagle . . . when Eagle had a 1915 patented accommodation clip that might have been used just was well.

Who knows . . . maybe someday, something will turn up proving that Hoge supplied Eagle with clips and this pairing is the real deal.

That will be the third shoe.

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