Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Craig Sheaffer's Gift to Edd Dawson

For years I’ve called my collection the “museum,” tongue firmly planted in cheek.  However, there are times when objects force me to realize that I don’t really own any of this stuff.  I’m only their caretakers charged with preserving them for future generations.

Nothing better typifies this sentiment than a piece I acquired from Dan Reppert at the DC Show this past weekend:

“Edd Dawson –

“I’m genuinely glad to add our latest Sheaffer pencil to your interesting collection – especially since the very first pencils in the collection were Sheaffer.”

Signed by none other than Craig Sheaffer himself:

The pencil is a Sheaffer “Masterpiece.”  At the top end, above the 14k clip, the white dot is sent into a rivet, which is in turn set into the barrel, a feature which dates the pencil fairly specifically to the first quarter of 1948:

The barrel and tip are likewise marked 14k:

And on the lower barrel, a facsimile of Craig Sheaffer’s signature is engraved in the barrel:

My one and only concern when I was offered this piece was whether this was something special – a one-off gift for a true friend – or whether Craig Sheaffer signed a bunch of these for several hundred of his closest friends as promotional items.  Since several of the Sheaffer experts were in the room at the DC show, I asked around but no one had heard of such a promotion.

The conclusive answer, I decided, must be with the named recipient of the gift: Edd Dawson.  I had high hopes that the extra D in “Edd” might make it possible to find out something about a guy with a pencil collection in 1948 who might have had enough pull to entice Craig Sheaffer to part with his personal pencil.

It did.

And the first clue was right here at the blog:

This Eversharp pencil, imprinted with Edd Dawson’s name, was featured here at the blog back in November, 2014 (the full article is at  Most of the time I don’t even mention the names imprinted on pencils when I find them, so it was a real stroke of luck that I noted Edd Dawson’s name in the article.

So I’ve got two Edd Dawson pieces in my collection.  Who was this guy?

With a bit more digging, I found him.  Edd B. Dawson was the sales manager for Koch Brothers, an office supply company and stationer in Des Moines, Iowa.  Here he is, in the center of this picture from the Des Moines Register on December 29, 1935, celebrating $23,000.00 in new orders for January, 1936:

But as distinctive as “Edd” with two d’s might be, did this Mr. Dawson collect mechanical pencils? Why yes . . . he started collecting them in 1940, and by 1947, his collection made headlines:

On June 20, 1947, the Des Moines Register reported that “Part of Edd B. Dawson’s pencil collection, which includes more than 13,000 pencils from around the world, is now on display in the window of Koch Brothers stationery store, 321 Grand Avenue.”

Dawson assembled his collection seventy years ago, without eBay, without pen shows, and without writing a book or a blog to give him the gravitational pull to draw pencils into his orbit.  Without question, Craig Sheaffer’s gift pencil was truly a thoughtful and respectful gift to someone Sheaffer knew would truly appreciate and preserve it.

Even before I knew all this, I was thinking that I needed to find the perfect place to keep this one, and I found it:

I’ve had this case for a while . . . the upper tray was the perfect place to bring together all of my ebonized pearl pencils (see  I never could figure out what I wanted to put on that lower shelf, until now –

It’s the perfect place to preserve Craig Sheaffer’s gift for another generation.


Martha said...

Great addition to the museum! Quite a few of the pencils from my family were purchased at Kochs.

Unknown said...

Just seeing this Jonathan! This is Fantastic !! Congrats !! ~Myk