Friday, September 15, 2017

The Kastar Mystery

Here’s a pair of objects I’ve been meaning to write about:


Both of these are marked “Kastar” on the clips:


I say “objects” because while the longer of the two is without doubt a pencil, the other . . . while it may look like a bullet pencil or something . . . isn’t.  That nose doesn’t come off.

When I found that shorter one and started thinking about what it might be if it weren’t a pencil, that got me to thinking about something unusual I find on every Kastar pencil I’ve ever seen:


On the back of the barrel, there’s an odd slot, like a coin filler slot on a fountain pen.  It made no sense to see one on a pencil, but when I saw one on something that wasn’t a pencil, my first thought was that maybe these are electrical testers, used to test for electrical current.  Although I didn’t find any evidence of a Kastar electrical tester being made in the 1920s or 1930s, when I estimate these were made, I did find an advertisement for a Kastar Tester in the September 14, 1973 issue of the Waco News Tribune, and it looks suspiciously like my pencil and its cousin:


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