Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Loose Change from the Dollar Line

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 16, 2018) 

I’ve had some pictures in the archive of some details to add regarding Conklin’s “dollar pencils,” starting with this bunch, which came my way by David Nishimura so many years ago that these pictures were taken on the old camera.  Now that I’ve gotten better at photo editing, the images are presentable:


There’s new old stock, there’s mint . . . and then there’s time machines that catapult you back to a stationer’s counter nearly a century ago:


The tissue paper wrappings, with purple stars, are cinched closed with stickers indicating what model pencil is wrapped inside:


A couple of the tissue wrappings were damaged, so I slipped the pencils inside from their coverings for this shot:


The short model with Conklin’s lower-level clip (see The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Vol. 2, page 25) - designated Model #0SC - is a real prize.  Note also the fingerprint of someone who handled the pencil a century ago on the ringtop:


In fact, in that earlier article I posted, both of these pencils show up in the image I included from Conklin’s 1922 catalog:


I also have a couple details to report on Conklin’s 1925 dollar pencils (see "A Fist Full of Dollar Pencils").  First, there were two blues - one more teal, and the other a brighter robin’s egg blue:


And, in addition to the black, orange/red and blue shown in the 1925 catalog, they are also found in dark green:


Since green is not shown in the 1925 catalog, but is shown in the 1930-1931 catalog for that other line of dollar pencils . . . 


. . .  I’m inclined to think green was added later in the line, and if true, that might indicate that the shorter caps I’ve noted here before are later production:


Speaking of those 1930-1931 dollar pencils, I’ve managed to find examples in black and red:


Half of a red one, anyway . . . the material is very brittle and my example has a gaping crack next to the clip.  In the years since these pictures were taken, I still haven’t turned up a better example.  Or a green one.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Panda Craps

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 15, 2018) 

Several years ago at the Springfield Extravaganza I found a boxed Dur-O-Lite, identified by a model name I hadn’t known of before:


The “7-11" pencil is a thin model with a deco-style clip, equipped with the same removable-nose mechanism the company had used since its formation in 1926, a vestige from its roots in Autopoint.


“7-11" refers to a “natural” roll of the dice in craps - an automatic winning roll of either a 7 or an 11.


Then along came the Panda Pencil Company, whose assets I purchased in 2014 when they sold their building.  Panda Pencil was a subsidiary of Dur-O-Lite, a fact the company kept a closely guarded secret while quietly supplying lead to many of Dur-O-Lite’s competitors, including without limitation Autopoint, Eversharp, Parker, Sheaffer and (possibly) Eberhard Faber.  

Along with millions of sticks of lead were a few other odds and ends, including a few pencils.  Some of them added a bit more to the 7-11 pencil story:


“Make a Game of Selling More in ‘64 / Give New 7-11 Pencils By Dur-O-Lite” these samples read, along with the dice motif on the tops:


The company had a great sense of humor.  These were also in Panda’s archives:


“Now More Than Ever People Appreciate Dur-O-Lite . . . The No. 1 Pencil” and “Confidentially, Haven’t You Hade Enough Cheap Ball Pens?” 


Now more than ever was 1972, the occasion of the company’s 46th Anniversary - in case you were wondering how I’ve known the company was formed in 1926 for all these years.  The ferrule on that one shows a Dur-O-Lite magnet attracting customers:



On the other is a somewhat creepy dude, encouraging you to “face” the fact that ball pens were going the way of the dodo:



Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Other Beegee

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 14, 2018) 

It’s been years since I’ve thought about the Beegee line of budget leadholders (see The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Vol. 1, page 413).  I don’t know why I never posted about this find, from the Philadelphia Show that year:


With the box and paperwork, the “Beegee Perfect Ink Eraser” deserves a mention:



The “eraser” is actually a fiberglass brush, concealed within the nose cone - exposing just a tiny bit would create a very stiff abrasive surface to buff ink from the page.   Although it was marketed as an ink eraser, it works equally for scuffing pencil marks away, too:




The cap is marked “Beegee Jr. / Pat. Oct. 17, 1911:


Francis Henry Baldwin and William Graff of New York applied for this patent on June 30, 1910, and it was issued as number 1,005,924:


And yes Virginia, the patent is listed in American Writing Instrument Patents Volume 2: 1911-1945.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

An Interesting Connection

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 13, 2018) 

There were two reasons I didn’t publish these photographs after I took them four years ago or so:


The first was that I had already used pictures of the top one in an article I wrote establishing that the “Sterling.A.” mark was in fact an Aikin Lambert mark, since it bears both marks:


The other reason was that I couldn’t explain the imprints on the other one.  It looks like a German pencil, with that black nose, but the top imprint is also Aikin Lambert:


The other imprint, however, puzzled me:


“L. & C. Hardtmuth’s / Kohinoor.”   There are eight versions of the Koh-I-Noor trademark listed in American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953; the German firm first claimed to use the mark with respect to pencils, in 1890.


It seems an unlikely collaboration, but we know from the ALCo hallmark that the pencil was made after 1908, after Aikin Lambert had been absorbed by L.E. Waterman in 1907 (see David Nishimura’s article on the subject posted at "Waterman and Aikin Lambert").  And who was the distributor for Waterman’s pens outside of North and South America?  


L. & C. Hardtmuth.  The relationship ended by necessity with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and apparently it went both ways: Hardtmuth distributed Waterman pens overseas, while Aikin Lambert – Waterman’s subsidiary – distributed Hardtmuth’s Koh-I-Noor products, including pencils . . . 


. . . and lead refills, as indicated by this wire lead gauge owned by Joe Nemecek.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Victorian . . . ish

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 12, 2018) 

Here’s a grouping of earlier Aikin Lamberts:


The top one and the fourth are the earliest, fully marked “Aikin Lambert & Co.”


The fifth one is marked on the nose with Aikin Lambert’s “Sterling.A.” mark:


The sterling work is really impressive:


But what’s even more impressive is its size.  It measures a hair over five and a half inches:


As for the remaining three, we’d tend to lump magic pencils such as these into the category of “Victorians,” except for what we know now about the trademarks:



From yesterday’s article, we know the trademark application for this mark wasn’t filed until November 24, 1908 – years after Queen Victoria passed away in 1901.  Edwardian might be a better word to use for these.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Few More Aikin Lambert Leadholders

This article has been edited and included in The Leadhead's Pencil Blog Volume 6, now on sale at The Legendary Lead Company:



(Originally scheduled to post May 11, 2018)

Here’s some commanding “stockbroker” Aikin Lambert leadholders, considerably fatter and with correspondingly fatter business ends:


I picked them up at the Philadelphia Pen Show auction a few years ago, when the Philly show was still at the Downtown Sheraton.  I suppose I never wrote about them because I used that gold filled one in an article I posted about a miniature version of the pencil, for comparison (see "The Sleeper"):


I also discussed that riveted clip in that article.  It was patented by William Ferris and assigned to Waterman:


The gold plated example has an Aikin Lambert hallmark, and the silver one does too – “Sterling.A.”:


(See "That Last Nagging Doubt" about that hallmark).

What’s really enthralling to me about the silver one, though, is that great commemorative engraving:



“C.T. Co. of NY Field Day August 24, 1912 / Won By / D.A. Hohmann.”  It took a bit of digging, but “C.T. Co. of N.Y.” is the Commonwealth Trust Company of New York, and Daniel A. Hohmann worked in the company’s collection department, presiding over the acquisition and liquidation of troubled assets.


I’ve picked up a few other Ferris-clipped Aikin Lamberts, too.  Here’s another gold filled example in an unusual hexagonal shape:


This one also has the ALCo hallmark:


The mark, by the way, appears in American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953.  It was registered in 1909, and although dates of first use were not reported during that time, the application was filed on November 24, 1908:


I’m a sucker for these.  I used to collect antique bottles, and in those collecting circles, we used to have a saying: “The more it looks like a third grader made them, the more we like them.”