Monday, September 4, 2017

Let Me Count the Ways

There’s an auction at the Raleigh Pen Show each year, and there were more pencils than usual among the lots being offered.  The real reason I attended, however, was because I was chasing this:

This Presto set caught my interest in several respects: first, the boxes are nearly impossible to come by (one of my earliest articles posted here was about one – for a little throwback Thursday, see

Second, while one of the things which attracts me to the Presto is the impressive size of these repeating pencils, this one is especially enormous – a full six inches long.

Third, I’ve only seen one other example with gold filled trim (I picked it up from Jim Carpenito at the Baltimore show years ago, back when it was still held at the Masonic lodge).

Fourth . . . I suppose . . . is that it came with that pesky matching fountain pen of equally impressive size, with a number 8 nib:

Presto pens are unusual in that the barel is made of bakelite to match the pencils; while this material is well suited to thick-barreled pencils, the material is too brittle for use in the thinner walls of pen barrels and caps.  To compensate for this, the barrels were lined with aluminum.

Fifth, the logo on that pencil is a little different from the usual block print:

Which ties in nicely with a picture I’ve had on the back burner for years – I don’t even remember where it came from now – which had me wondering whether the company did something more than make writing instruments:

The logo on the pencil is too close to that for the “Presto Personal Paper Punch” to be a coincidence.

A sixth reason for me to pursue this set came during the auction itself, when Ben Mawhorter announced that the set included a matching desk pen:

Well, almost matching, anyway . . . with orange flecks rather than yellow, in a darker shade of green.  But still – I’ve never seen a Presto desk pen, and if the pencil is gargantuan, the pen is the King Kong of desk pens.  It even has a Presto nib and the same logo on the lever:

And then there’s that seventh reason I couldn’t wait to circle back around to the Presto: the “research scraps reason,” we’ll call it.

When I took my recent sabbatical from the blog, the first thing I needed to do (in addition to sipping a pina colada or two) was to organize the mass of pictures and other images which had built up over the years, separated into folders partitioned along arbitrary lines.  I straightened all of this out into a folder called “Pencil Pictures,” renaming every stinkin’ image by brand name so that I could find them, and another called “Leadhead’s Research Scraps,” containing random bits of information I’ve stumbled across and tucked away for the day they might coalesce into an article here.

I've had a few research scraps concerning the Presto.  Since this article is in danger of becoming overly long as it is, I’ll pull together everything I’ve got for tomorrow’s installment . . .

Note:  see

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