Wednesday, February 21, 2018

With Surgical Precision

Last November my good friend David Nishimura had the opportunity to have a look around the museum on the eve of the Ohio Pen Show.  I was proud to tour someone around, since I had just completed a long overdue (and months-long) project of reorganizing the entire collection:

What amazed me was how quickly David zeroed in on just one specific pencil on this big wall – one I haven’t thought about in years – and one that, given the alphabetical organization of the items on display, was nowhere near where he should have expected to see it:

This pencil is unmarked except for an imprint on the back side of the barrel: “The Geo. Innes Co.”:

The Innes, as I only knew to call it in 2011, appeared on page 91 of The Catalogue indexed under Innes – with the caveat that I wasn’t sure whether the imprint was a manufacturer’s imprint or simply an “unmarked advertising piece for a company unrelated to pencils.”

As it turns out, it isn’t quite either one.  And David knew exactly who made it, because he happened to have the matching pen in tow:

The pen is a Seth Crocker, about which I last wrote in 2014 (see “The Patent Book Passes a Harsh Test” at  From what I’ve been able to gather, The Seth Crocker Pen Company was organized by Seth Chilton Crocker, the son of Seth Sears Crocker, founder of the Crocker Pen Company.  After Seth Chilton Crocker orchestrated the buyout of Crocker Pen’s assets after his father’s death, he gave the company a new name – Chilton – which operated in Boston but then moved to Long Island before Seth’s investors ousted him from the company that bore his middle name.  Seth went on to form the Seth Crocker Pen Company sometime around 1932, and there is a passing reference that it was still around in 1938.

The last time I wrote about the Seth Crocker, it was about an example featuring a truly bizarre repeating pencil design.  In my defense, there wouldn’t have been any reason to associate these two pencils with the same company, since they share nothing:

The tip, the clip, the mechanism (the Innes has a conventional nose drive) . . . nothing here suggests that these two might be related.  But there was one clue in that previous article that might have tipped me off – I ran down all the patents associated with Seth Crocker, and one of them, design patent number 94,118, might have triggered me to make the connection:

However, I’ve got pencils made by other companies in that sort of pattern, most notably Carter, which threw me off the trail.  Now that I see it, though, I can’t unsee it.  Without question, my pencil marked “The Geo. Innes Co.” is made by the Seth Crocker Pen Company.

But another question remains: if there were a second edition of The Catalogue, would the entry for Innes be deleted and this pencil moved to an entry for Seth Crocker? 

No.  Well ok, I’ll probably put it in both places.  The George Innes Co. deserves its own mention, because it fits perfectly into, and fills in a small gap, that has been missing from the Seth Crocker story.

More on that tomorrow . . .

1 comment:

Historian said...

What a beautiful museum arrangement.