Saturday, March 31, 2018

Not a Dupe

Recently, Jerome Lobner had this great Presto repeating pencil up for sale, in ringtop configuration:

It has a patent pending imprint and, tarnish aside, is in very nice condition:

“Are you bidding on that?” a friend of mine and frequent reader of the blog asked me, knowning that early metal Prestos are a borderline fetish for me. 

“I am,” I said.  “But after I get it, I’ll let you know whether it’s a duplicate."

It wasn’t.

Friday, March 30, 2018

An Important Missing Link

The pictures of this one in an online auction last year weren’t that great – but they were clear enough that I had my strong suspicions that it might be important.  And it is.

The description in the auction listing was what attracted my attention: Laughlin, the Detroit pen maker/pen jobber/pen repair and distributor who has quite the cult following (see “The Long Awaited Laughlin Article” at  I couldn’t see the imprint in any of the pictures, but I was sure he was right and when I received this one he proved true to his word:

What interested me about this one is how it’s put together.  Note that cheap (and somewhat worn) z-clip? 

Laughlin is a cult interest of mine as well, as part of my devotion to a different cult – the Rex Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island.  Laughlin was one of Rex’s customers, and I’ve got a couple others along these lines.  One, an earlier model, appeared here with a “Pat. Pend.” stamp I haven’t found elsewhere on the clip (see “Three Interesting Rex Patent Pencils” at

The Pat. Pending refers to one of Rex’s “four horsemen” patents - at least that’s what I call them, since four patent dates are so often found printed on the caps of these (for the full rundown of all the Rex patents, see

Two of the “four horsemen” patents incorporate a washer clip just Parker’s, including the earliest of the four, issued to Charles H. Patton on August 4, 1925.  I think that’s the patent referred to as pending on that Laughlin pencil, which has the same, one-piece tip seen in Patton’s drawings (the two-stage tip came later):

I’ve got another Laughlin pencil, one which includes all four patented features on Rex pencils.  Here they are alongside one another:

Neither has any patent dates on their caps:

In fact, comparing the two side by side, the cap has been totally redesigned on the z-clip Laughlin:

And there’s something else really interesting about the z-clip Laughlin: the top turns, but doesn’t do anything.  It’s a nose drive pencil.  Every other Rex pencil I’ve seen has been rear-drive.  That’s really interesting, and suggests that someone was fabricating completely different pencils using Rex parts already on hand, without using the famous Rex clip assembly.

I know why.

At the end of 2016, I wrote about “My Working Theory” (see  On December 11, 1925, the Parker Pen Company filed suit for patent infringement against Rex, claiming patent infringement of Parker’s “fountain pen cap” patent (the ubiquitous Sep. 5 ‘16 patent date found on Parker washer clips):

We know the litigation was still going strong in 1926, when a published decision of an appeal in the case denying Rex permission to amend an answer.  I’ve theorized that Parker ultimately won the case, but that it took a long time to get there, since Rex pencils using the four horsemen patents are so prevalent and made for so many different customers:

Further, some of the most common brands, such as Montgomery Ward’s Gold Bond pencils, continued to use the four horsemen features through 1929, changing to the “new style” in 1930:

The only pencils I’ve seen which have the 1930-and later short tips and the old four horsemen clip assembly are directly tied to Rex: this pencil and the Triad Tubes one that proved the link between Rex’s demise and the formation of Triad (Tri-Pen):

This suggests that Rex was already playing around with moving towards the new short tip design, but during this transition the company was suddenly forced to stop using Parker’s patented clip – leaving the company with a glut of spare parts which were hastily modified into a nose-drive pencil with a cheap z-clip, stamped with the Laughlin name and shipped out to meet an order. 

I need to see that case file in Rhode Island . . .

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Two Little Prayers for Cleveland

It’s baseball Opening Day today . . . the earliest opening day since 1968, and the first time all thirty teams in the league are playing on Opening Day.  So as “maybe next year” turns into “maybe this year,” this seemed like an appropriate thing to share with you today:

George Rimakis brought it for me to the fDC show a few yearrs back, and it gave me a chuckle in two ways.  First, I just love cheesy Americana, and it just doesn’t get more American than baseball.  Second, I got a kick out of the fact that George, who typicaly dwells in the realm of the super-serious, super expensive and super-important historical writing instruments, would see something as goofy as this, think of me, and pick it up thinking I’d like it.

And like it I do!  The pencil and dip pen set is for the Cleveland Indians, which we here in Ohio annually think will be able to get the job done every spring, odds and past history notwithstanding (except in years when the Reds are doing well.  Here in Columbus, smack dab in between the two, metropolis on the lake and the one on the river, we tend to sway either way --
when I was growing up in the mid-70s, it was the Big Red Machine and back-to-back World Series Championships in ‘74 and ‘75 that had the capital city looking south for its summertime thrills rather than north.   But the Indians have been doing well fairly consistently for the last twenty years, so maybe this will be Ohio’s year.

So there’s my first little prayer for Cleveland - that for the first time in seventy years, the last time they won the Series in 1948, that we might see souvenirs that say what these do:

And my second prayer is for a bit of sanity.  Note that the Indian logo on this set is an ordinary profile of a Native American in a headdress, not the cartoony, toothy-grinned Chief Wahoo that was adopted as the team’s logo in 1950.  Our Indians will appear without an officially sanctioned Chief Wahoo this year, now that dim-witted social justice warriors have finally intimidated the team into believing their logo, worn so proudly for more than half a century, is racist, exploitative or any number of other vile things.

As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, we can make words mean whatever we want them to mean, and the same can be said for how anyone wishes to perceive something as harmless as Chief Wahoo.  So my other little prayer for Cleveland is that the pendulum of political correctness is approaching or has finally reached its apex, and those who are inclined to be offended can finally be at peace with the notion that being offended is only a choice rather than a reaction in the absence of any concerted effort to offend.

If Chief Wahoo represented a Native American as something less worthy than others – as something that was somehow athletically, morally, culturally or in any way empirically inferior to any other group – I have one question for any snowflakes who might be reading this:

Why would our players and fans want to wear it so proudly?

The vast majority of people in my part of the world, taking Humpty Dumpty’s cue, have chosen to see Chief Wahoo as a symbol of indomitable and optimistic spirit, with a broad smile that accurately reflects our joy and love of a game, even in the face of annual disappointment come every October. 

I will miss our friend Chief Wahoo, defeated not on the diamond but by forces who have chosen to have him mean something entirely different.  There’s no question he’ll live on, as fans will continue to don his likeness – whether it be out of sentimentality, respect, fond rememberance, or rebellion against the tyranny of a sliver of a minority who thinks they have the right to tell us what to think and what we can and cannot say.  Unfortunately, he is in danger now of becoming a symbol not of our simple hope for a great season of baseball, but a cause celebre for narrow-minded socialists igniting more dischord over something so silly.

I know I’m on my soapbox, and I’m done.  If this article offended you, feel free to change the channel and demand your money back for having read it.

And Go Tribe!  Oh wait, am I still allowed to say “tribe?”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Speaking of Boxes . . .

Yesterday’s Sheaffer working togs pencil in black wasn’t much, were it not for the beautiful box in which it was housed.   Here’s a box that’s even nicer:

This trapezoidal jewel has one of the aluminum-barrel Eversharp repeaters from 1937 or so strapped to the inside of the lid:

And you can see some paperwork peeking out in there.  It doesn’t offer much to today’s discussion, but it is neat:

The real information to be found here, though, is inside the box itself:

What a litany!  OK, we might as well go through them one by one.  Patent number 1,700,255 is for a repeating pencil mechanism; it was applied for by Edward D. Feldman on October 23, 1922, but it wasn’t issued until January 29, 1929.  It was assigned to the Pencil Mechanism Corporation of New York:

Patent number 1,735,224 appears to have been added just to “pad” the patent pedigree here (note that the box specifically says it’s for the Eversharp Repeating Pencil). . . this patent is for John Wahl’s method of assembling fountain pens:

Patent 1,906,851 was issued to veteran Wahl (and later Riedell) inventor Hugo S. Hasselquist, who applied for something that kind of looks like an Eversharp repeater on February 23, 1922 . . . but it wasn’t issued for eleven years, finally issued on May 2, 1933:

As for Patent 1,916,199 . . . well hell, that’s just Robert Back’s patent for Everharp’s square lead:

Patent 1,967,484 is for a “magazine pencil,” but one of the screw drive sort, not the repeating kind.  It was applied for by Albert H. Stevenson on October 15, 1932 and was issued on July 24, 1934 - it was assigned to the Wahl Company:

You won’t find patent number 2,014,150 in my book... it’s for Albert H. Stenerson’s for an “Apparatus for molding objects of pyralin.”  Did I mention this is an aluminum-barreled pencil?

Design patent number 103,402 is close . .  It’s for Alfonso Iannelli’s design patent for the Coronet (actually Eversharp’s “Gold Filled Pencil”).  This one is a Coronet derivative, but obviously it doesn’t share much of anything in common with what’s patented:

And the same can be said for Iannelli’s alternate design for the Coronet, issued March 2, 1937 as Design Patent 103,403:

There is a reference to “Other Patents Pending” . . . perhaps they were referring to Iannelli’s design patent for the clip actually used on this pencil, which wasn’t issued until May 25, 1937 as Design Patent 104,686:

Or maybe not.  I think Eversharp just wanted to look like it had a lot of intellectual property in whatever they chose to stick in this box.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dress Togs

I don’t remember where I found this one, only that once I saw the box, I had to see what was inside:

Such cool styling proved to be the setting for a lowly Sheaffer pencil in “working togs”:

The clip is the earlier flat ball clip, the sort used on the series in 1940 or so:

Complete with sticker, referring me to some pretty serious technical instruction before I “attempt to operate” it:

. . . and, of course, no instructions . . . since I couldn’t pull up the floor of the box to see what was under it, I started looking around to see what I could see.  There was a clue on the bottom . . .

Patent number 1,838,102 is only for a means of attaching the padding material to the box, though, so that one was a dead end.

So I’ve got a lowly pencil in a pretty fancy box.  Sure, someone might have put an unrelated NOS pencil in a pretty nice box, but heck, I like to think someone decided to dress up a Sheaffer working togs pencil for a special occasion.

And speaking of Sheaffer pencils dressed up for special occasions . ..

This one is a later example, marked “Fineline” on the clip.  In fact, I can precisely date this one to 1952, based on what’s printed on the white portion of the barrel:

The Sheaffer Snorkel fountain pen was introduced in 1952, with what is widely considered today to have been the most complicated filling system ever devised for a fountain pen.  So excited was Sheaffer that it even pressed the Fineline pencils – known mostly as advertising pieces – into service promoting the company’s exciting new product.

Monday, March 26, 2018

What I Meant To Tell You

A couple years ago I picked up a few boxed fountain pen and pencil sets at the Ohio Show, putting them on display here in an article titled “Show of Sets” (the link is  This was the first one in the article:

The pencil is a Magnum Pointer:

There was something more I wanted to tell you about that set at the time.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t for one simple reason:

I lost the damned paper that had the information, and I couldn’t remember what it said.

I knew that a few years ago at the Chicago Show, Terry Mawhorter had sold me a flimsy brochure that had the official name for these on it, as well as the name of these Eagle pencils, which are similar to other Eagles along these lines except for color and that bright silver trim

You’ve seen these two before – and heard my frustration that I couldn’t find the ephemera that revealed their name – at “A Different Take on a Familiar Name” last August (

I remembered the paper being very flimsy, like newspaper, and big – larger than would fit in the plastic protective sleeves in which I normally store such things.  I remembered finding a safe, out of the way place to put it so that it wouldn’t get damaged.

It has been so safe for three years that it’s even been safe from me.

Fortunately, when I went through the whole museum and straightened out everything, it finally turned up.  Here is the front page:

The brochure is for what prizes “Curtis Salesman” can receive, based on the number of sales they bring in.  For 10 sales, you could receive Eagle’s “Golden Canary” fountain pen - either the long or short model.  For three sales, you could win the lowly Eagle “Silver Canary” pencil, in either a long or a short model:

The back page is where the “Curtis Salesmen” reference is found – along with a reference to Eagles “Crimson” pens and Conklin pencils. 

In case you were wondering whether my Golden Canary fountain pen is properly matched with an Eagle Magnum Pointer, the top of this page answer the question:

For 22 sales, you could receive an Eagle pen and pencil set in pearl and black – and note that the same riveted-clip fountain pen is shown with a Magnum Pointer pencil.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Oh Yeah . . . That's Why

When it comes to metal Eversharp pencils, even I have a tough time making sure I’m keeping everything straight.  When I reorganized the museum a few months ago, I went painstakingly through every one in every drawer, pulling out the ones that have such subtle nuances and putting them in one place, so I don’t mistake it for a duplicate and inadvertently cull it into the boxes of stuff I take to shows.

As I was getting ready for the Baltimore show this year, I ran across this one and couldn’t for the life of me remember what was so special about it:

Then I noticed something funny about the business end.

See it?  Here it is next to a “normal” .046" (1.1mm) lead Eversharp:

It’s an Eversharp “75" in a thin model.