Monday, February 26, 2018

This One Is Settled Now, Too

When I brought home that blue unmarked Carter pencil from DC in yesterday’s article (see, there was another pencil I could not wait to compare it to:

The clips reminded me so much of each other in my recollection, although they look a lot less alike when posed together:

“Mother of Toilet Seat,” I’ve heard this mousy, cream-colored celluloid derisively referred to, calling to mind toilet seats made of similar celluloid in the 1950s.  The quality is overall significantly inferior to the unmarked Carter, even less representative of the once-proud maker.

Hmmm.... whenever I utter the words “once-proud maker,” it inevitably leads me to think of Conklin.  Alfonso Mur recently published a fine book on the maker, “The Conklin Legacy,” which includes a significant discussion of the company’s increasingly cringeworthy offerings after the company was moved to Chicago and Joseph Starr milked the company’s name for all it was worth – and then continued to milk it even after it was no longer worth anything.

There, on page 251, was my answer:

Among a lineup of crappy Conklin “Minuteman” pens from the class of 1942, there’s one with this exact clip, next to one with that exact cheap round black top button. 

Now those of you who know me know that I’m a tough cookie to convince on things like this (while still others think I’m wildly speculating whenever I open my mouth, but that’s another matter).  Since the pencil is unmarked, and all I have to go on are a clip and a top button, both of which might have been acquired from other sources by a company nearing the end of its death spiral, do I really have enough to conclusively attribute this pencil to Conklin?

I’ve already moved it over to be with my other later Conklins.  Yes I do – when you combine what I know about this pencil and another that’s been sitting in my dead letter office for years . . .

(The other shoe drops at

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