Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Big Oops

I goofed, and I might as well get this over with.

Of all the books I've written, American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953 is the one of which I am the most proud – it contains more than 2,000 trademarks, many of which were unknown to many pen and pencil historians simply because of the chaotic manner in which historical trademarks were (or were not) maintained by the Patent Office.

The book includes one trademark it shouldn’t, and it is missing another -- one very important one, which is near and dear to my heart.  Unfortunately, I don’t even get to take credit for finding the omission - it was discovered by an avid reader who picked up the book and who noticed what appeared to be an innocent typographical error.  It involved the trademark for “Redmanol”:

This is the trademark I shouldn’t have included, because it is not a writing instrument trademark strictly and it wasn’t indexed where all the other pen and pencil trademarks were found.  However, when I pulled the registration certificate from the Patent Office database, I didn’t think anything of it: Redmanol, a competitor of Bakelite, was used in the manufacture of pencils before Bakelite successfully sued the company for patent infringement and absorbed it.  I was intimately familiar with the Bakelite/Redmanol story because I wrote about it here in the course of researching the “Craftsman” which was made of the stuff (see Volume 3, page 97).

My anonymous reader, though, noted that I had the number wrong in the database listing.  Instead of registration number 124,149, I listed it as registration number 125,149.

There’s the one I left out of the book.  I typed the wrong number into the USPTO’s document retrieval portal when I pulled the certificate.  It certainly wasn’t the only time I did that over the course of months of research, but every other time I did so, the certificate which came up was so obviously wrong that I rechecked the number and pulled the right one.  This time, by coincidence, the certificate I pulled looked like it belonged – and it did, although not as much as number 125,149:

Charles Keeran, godfather of the American mechanical pencil industry, filed his first trademark for “Autopoint” in block letters, claiming a date of first use of July 15, 1918 – when the company was founded.  Oh, my forehead has such a flat spot now.  I knew about the mark: it appears on the first announcement for the new Autopoints, which appeared in the May, 1920 edition of Typewriter Topics:

I even noted this earlier trademark when I wrote about early Autopoints such as these in Volume 4, page 88 and 326, and the mark appears on the early Autopoint pictured on page 21 of The Catalogue. 

All I can say is that there’s an error in the trademark book, and I assure you it is one which pains me more than it pains you!

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