Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Ghost Book Lives!

After much weeping and gnashing of teeth over images lost in a google glitch (see for that fiasco), the first year of the Blog is finally out in print form.   It's available through Amazon or at any bookstore.

I had an initial run of 50 copies printed which are numbered and signed, and I still have a few left.  To order, here's the link at Legendary Lead Company:

I'm really pleased with how this one turned out. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Of Course Ren Had This One

Although normally I don’t hunt English pencils, in this case I had to bite:

It was on Reinaldo Matthews-Danzer’s table - you know him as “Ren,” the pipe-smoking, Aussie hat-wearing guy who provides overnight security at several of the eastern shows.

Of course my pipe-smoking friend had this.  It’s a “Wyvern Smoker’s Pencil” with an English patent number of 472,380:

Smoker’s pencils are great “trick” pencils.  Pull the top on this one, and there’s your Smoker’s tool:

Although it looks more adept as a weapon, this spike is for punching a cigar to increase airflow and improve the “draw” of a cigar that’s wrapped too tightly. 

British patents aren’t as easy to find as their American counterparts, but in this case, I was able to locate the patent online (having the number certainly helped).   It was applied for by Alec Finburgh and David Finburgh, trading as the Wyvern Fountain Pen Company, on March 2, 1937, and was granted on September 22, 1937, for a pencil having on board either a pipe cleaner or a “pricker”:

Too bad English patents don’t include pictures!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Now Wait A Minute . . .

I recently bought a grouping of several pencils from my friend Chris Egolf, solely because there was an early Dur-O-Lite in the bunch I was compelled to add to the stash (the Dur-O-Lite appeared here on April 11 (“No Pshaws for Personalizations Here at

As always, after I’d properly ooohed and aaahed over the Dur-O-Lite, I spent some time looking at the other things that were in the group - parts only, as they had been described.  There were some unusual things in there - like this tired little guy:

Chris indicated that he thought he could make out the word “Butterfly” ghosted on the brass, and he was right - these don’t come along often, either.  Here it is alongside less tired specimens:

Then there was this Mabie Todd, with kind of a neat feature:

The rounded gold filled top is very nice:

If this one didn’t have a horrible crack in the barrel, this would have been a real prize.  I particularly like the initials engraved on the nose cone; ordinarily you wouldn’t see that down there:

But it was the last items in the group that really had me scratching my head. Check out these two:

If you read the clips, you’re looking at a Waterman and a Morrison.  But there’s something a little bit off about these: the noses on both of them look out of place.  On closer examination:

The Waterman has been retrofitted with an Autopoint mechnaism, and the “Morrison” is actually just a Morrison cap installed on an Autopoint pencil.

Then there was this thing, which I couldn’t wait to get a closer look at from the auction pictures:

It’s a relatively modern 2.0mm leadholder mechanism which appears to have been installed on something much earlier.  The pattern on the barrel is a very distinctive one I’ve only ever seen in one other place:

This frankenpencil is a repurposed Shur-Rite barrel.

I was convinced there had to be more to this story, so I emailed Chris to see what the deal was.  “It was my Grandfather, Warren ‘Pete’ Egolf, who liked to make sure everything in his collection was working, even if it meant cutting it apart,” Chris replied.  He sent me a picture of a few other of his grandfather’s specially modified pencils which he’s keeping for now:

The bottom one in that last picture really caught my attention - in one of the other pictures, I could see “Ever-Sharp” imprinted, which had me really excited.

That barrel pattern is nearly identical to an early Sharp Point pencil in my collection (the earliest Sheaffers), and I’ve found hints that Charles Keeran, inventor of the Eversharp, might have had some clandestine involvement in assisting Walter Sheaffer with introducing a mechanical pencil.

I’m still not sure why this barrel matches my early Sharp Point so closely, but Chris was able to supply more information to help me identify where it came from.  On the opposite side of the barrel there’s a patent number: 650,078.

You’ve seen that patent here before, in an entirely different context.   It was issued to Albert J. Keck on May 22, 1900, on an application he filed on September 16, 1898;

There were, in fact, two “Eversharps,” and this was the earlier one: it was a multipoint pencil, in which there were several short leads loaded one behind the other within the barrel.  Usually, though, these come in a cheaply made, wood incarnation:

I wrote about these here about five years ago (see and indexed the article under “Eversharp (the other one).”

Unfortunately, while Pete’s modifications might have made it work, it makes this clue that much more tantalizing.  Is it a coincidence that there was an Ever-sharp that looked like a Sharp Point?

There are no coincidences, in my experience.  Just connections which have not been fully revealed.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Just a Name or a Clue?

This Presto came up recently in an online auction, and since it was reasonable and I’m always looking for more information on the brand, I went ahead and brought it home:

When I brought it home, I found that it was a dead ringer for the most important Presto in my collection: Samuel Kanner’s personal demonstrator:

I dug these old pictures out from The Catalogue, where they appear on pages 122 and 123, mostly because I wanted to know whether I had lost the cap on Kanner’s demonstrator or whether I never had it.

While my Kanner demonstrator is marked “Patented,” this new find is marked patent applied for:

But unlike Kanner’s demonstrator, this one has a different personalization:

“Jack Sprat.”  Note how much more detailed the lettering is, on this example that matches a pencil owned by the company’s owner.  Is this just a name, wrought with a little more care than one might normally see by a jeweler or salesperson? 

Is it a flippant reference to the nursery rhyme?

Or is it a clue?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Now I Can Quit Looking For It

Something has bothered me about the “Alexander the Great” pencils I introduced here during the first year of the blog (

Some years ago, I remembered having one example of this pencil, with one difference: it didn’t have “Alexander” written on the clip.  Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t put it in a place separate from the plain ol’ examples, and after going through all the ones still on display I’ve concluded that at some point I must have inadvertently culled it out of my collection, along with the other Alexander duplicates.

What has bugged me was that I couldn’t remember what name was imprinted on them.  Thanks to Chris Egolf, I can finally get a good nights’ sleep now, since he had these three in an online auction recently:

The name that I couldn’t recall was Gerlach-Barklow, the advertising specialty and art calendar company located in Joliet, Illinois.  I did a rundown of the brand here awhile back at

And I noticed something about these I didn’t tell you earlier.  If you pull out the eraser, these have kind of a neat feature:

The metal retainers are adjustable, so as the erasers wears down you can push it up.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Without Peer (Thank Heavens)

I always thought “Peerless” was a funny name to apply to a product ... it doesn’t actually say the product is better than any competing product, only that there is nothing on exactly that level.  Without peer might mean nothing else is that good, or in the alternative that nothing out there is that bad.

In the case of the hapless Peerless pens and pencils, I think it’s largely the latter.  Nevertheless, I do have a couple things to show you from the brand.  The first is this time capsule:

Talk about a gold mine of information – too bad it isn’t about something collectors care about a little bit more!  We have a date of October 6, 1948, and a clear indication that the Paulmay Company was the distributors for the Peerless Fountain Pen and Pencil Company.  Inside, there’s some detailed paperwork and a pen and pencil set in a leather case:

I thought about omitting pictures of the pen and pencil out of the case, since they are bad.  I mean, really bad . . .

Still, the caps themselves have a bit of style, even if they don’t fit so well on the writing instruments so well:

The paperwork that comes with it is pretty funny – note that the guarantee is that the set is “worth more than its special radio price of only $1.95.” 

It also provides a physical address for Peerless: 14 West 17th Street, New York:

The instructions contain nothing pencil related, but here there are in the interests of completeness:

The Peerless brand was another one which appears to have either been handed off several times or appropriated by several people over the years.   Here’s a set that I picked up at an antique show years ago:

Although the pen and pencil share the same plastic, the clips are a little different – still, I think this is probably a matched set:

The sloped “Peerless” on the pencil clip is a little different; then there’s the “A.N.C.” aove the name on the pen, which stands for American News Corporation (see

However, these don’t bear any indication that the American News Corporation was involved at all:

They both simply have the word “Peerless” on the back side of the barrel:

However, the plastics, those bolted-on clips and those flared caps all scream Eagle - contemporary with the Riteaway and Magnum Pointer series:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Fine Little Bit of Paperwork

I think I found this one online:

I bought it more for the paperwork and the box than for the pencil itself:

It’s a Webster, and often these have really cool names, but this one says only “Webster / Made in U.S.A.”

The paperwork, however, identifies this as the Webster “4-star” pencil - and it also includes the written confirmation that, at least by this time, the Webster was exclusively a Sears, Roebuck & Co. brand: