Monday, May 11, 2020

One I Thought I Told You About

As I was writing the article that posts tomorrow, I went to refer back to an article I was sure I had posted a long time ago - and after I couldn’t find it, I checked my unpublished pictures folder and sure enough, there it was:

Taken in 2015, during my “dark bamboo flooring” era.  Pictures are still serviceable, but if I hear too much griping I’ll reshoot them.  This is a higher quality pencil in a black and bronze celluloid, and if I had to guess who made it, I’d say it probably wasn’t the name on the clip:  “Ernall.” 

If I had to guess, I’d say Conklin built this pencil - the celluloid is one Conklin used, and that flat top with two bands is very reminiscent of an Endura.  I’m sure I’ve meant to post about this one a couple of times over the years – in 2015, the similarity to a Conklin would have been about the only observation I would have been able to offer, so I probably had it sitting on the shelf waiting for more information.

More information came in 2017, when I wrote American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953.  In the course of researching that book, I ran across the trademark registration for the Ernall mark found on this clip:

These registration certificates are a gold mine for researchers, and this one is no exception.  The Ernall Pen & Pencil Corporation was located at 301 Market Street, Camden, New Jersey; its president was Howard Callingham; and the company first used the mark found on the clip of my Ernall pencil on December 15, 1930.

I think the reason this one didn’t make Leadhead’s headlines was because this information, while a huge leap forward from what I knew before (which was nothing), still proved unsatisfying.  I was able to find notice of the incorporation of The Ernall Pen and Pencil Corporation, which appeared in The Wilmington, Delaware Morning News on December 27, 1930:

The short announcement identifies J. Vernon Pimm, Albert G. Bauer and R. L. Spurgeon as the incorporators, referencing a “Corporation Guarantee and Trust Company.”  Pimm, Bauer and Spurgeon weren’t pen and pencil men – they were professional corporate front men, under whose names companies would be founded by the real stakeholders – who, for whatever reason, preferred to remain anonymous.  Here are those same three men, forming “The United Liquor Stores Corporation of America” in 1933:

And two of the three of them were in Ohio a few years later, forming the Cambria-Webb Coal Mining Company in Toledo in 1937:

Theirs was a national operation.  The Illinois Secretary of State reports that Pimm, with a business address of 325 Land Title Building, Philadelphia, was an officer in both the Corporation Organization Company and the Corporation Guarantee & Trust Company, both corporations having offices in Chicago: 

So what of Howard Callingham, the President of Ernall Pen & Pencil?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like he was a pen and pencil man, either.  In 1920, he was listed in The Accountant’s Directory and Who’s Who, leading the accounting firm of Callingham, Howard & Co. across the river from Camden in Philadelphia:

Callingham died just ten years after Ernall was incorporated, and while his short obituary mentions his careers as an accountant as well as being a flutist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, there’s no mention of his diversion into writing instruments:

There’s one other clue: on July 26, 1931, a sales manual for the company was copyrighted by a man named William M. Harcourt.

But that too appears to be a dead end: the only newspaper reports I can find for a “William M. Harcourt” is for a freelance writer, a Baltimore native who died in Brooklyn New York in 1935.  Apparently, Ernall’s sales manual was ghost written.

Was Ernall the name of some long forgotten stationer or salesman?  I haven’t found anyone.  Was it a place, or maybe one of those cute contractions, say of “Earn all”?  Dunno.  Whatever Ernall Pen and Pencil Corporation was, the men behind it didn’t want to be known. 

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