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.

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