Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Interesting Gregg Update

The “Gregg” is illustrated on page 84 of The Catalogue:

The pencil, as I noted in the book, was made by Wahl Eversharp; it’s a clipless Equipoised in hard rubber.  Nowhere is there an Eversharp imprint.  The only marking is the Gregg logo, which is why I listed this one separately as opposed to alongside the other Eversharps (the book is designed to help those who have a pencil in hand and want to look up what it says).

I can now tell you quite a bit more, thanks to a nifty new book I’ve just published, American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953:

Unfortunately, the United States Trademark Office did not preserve all expired registrations for posterity, so the original certificate for trademark number 297,917 is, for the time being, lost.   This image was retrieved working backwards from information I found in a subject matter index from Trade-marks Issued from the United States Patent Office.

Starting from the index, I knew a serial number and a publication date, so I was able to thumb (that’s electronically thumb, since the physical books from my old haunts are long gone) through the relevant date of the Official Gazette.

From the indexed information combined with the publication in the Gazette, we know that the Gregg trademark was first claimed to be used on March 1, 1928, although the Gregg Publishing Company didn’t get around to seeking trademark protection for the mark until 1932.

And 1928 is an interesting time in Wahl’s history . . . the company was just letting go of Keeran’s metal pencil design, which with minor improvements in 1924, had been in use since 1913.  The company had just begun introducing pens and pencils in hard rubber and celluloid.  After the meteoric success of the Sheaffer Balance, in 1929 Wahl formally introduced the “Equipoised” line of pens and pencils.  Here’s a page from the 1929 catalog, from the Pen Collectors of America’s online library:

Yeah, I despise the PCA watermark, too.  It was added after someone uploaded the entire contents of the PCA’s library to, and the PCA was trying to protect what it had compiled over the years . . . but at this point . . . well, the cow’s out of the barn now, and I don’t think it’s doing anything other than annoy people.  I digress . . .

This is the model that got Wahl into trouble with Sheaffer, and according to Court papers, filed in the Sheaffer v. Worth litigation (Daniel Kirchheimer wrote an excellent article about this for The Pennant recently), the shape was quickly abandoned by Wahl after warnings from Sheaffer’s lawyers to cease and desist infringement of Sheaffers design patents on its Balance line.

For our purposes right now, what’s really interesting about this page, and what I want you to notice, are the model numbers: 4010TC, 4005TC, 4004TC and 4012TC.  The ringtop versions are cataloged on a different page, with a TW suffix, and pens start with numbers beginning with 64 (6410TC or TW, etc.).

Not too long ago, this one surfaced in an online auction, complete with box and papers:

The pencil carefully wrapped inside the instruction sheet is clearly from the same line as the 1929 Wahl Equipoised line:

It appears to have a full length lower barrel from the side clip line, paired with a shorter, ringtop-sized cap . . . but without the ringtop, and in hard rubber:

The only markings on the pencil itself are the same as the example I showed you in The Catalogue:

I didn’t color that in – the imprint appears to have been colored at the factory.  And then there’s that price sticker . . .

Now Eversharp price bands just slip off . . . I never put too much stock in a “stickered” pencil like this because you can slide any old thing on there and call it minty, and who’s going to know?

I would.  And in this case, I know that’s not what happened.  A Wahl Eversharp model number of “4007SP”?  It fits perfectly in a family of 1929 Equipoised pencils bearing model numbers of 4004, 4005, 4010 and 4012 . . . and if the “SP” means “Special,” that also makes perfect sense.

What gives me pause right now is wondering whether I should have listed Gregg separately, now that I believe these were actually a Wahl Eversharp model marketed with the Gregg logo.

And I’m wondering what 4006, 4008, 4009 and 4011 meant.

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