Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Scholar's Signet in Nickel Silver


Here's a new one to me, the Signet, sold by the Rexall Stores but made by DeWitt-LaFrance of Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Although plain, it works perfectly with 1.1 mm lead.  It is a 5 & 3/8 inch all-metal twist pencil, marked nickel silver.  "Silver" is an honorary title since the metal alloy is usually 60% brass, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc.  The dings and dents are no doubt from a rough and tumble life in the pencil box where I found it.

The marking says "SIGNET
Sold Only at the Rexall Stores,
N. Silver Pat Pend."

The clip is marked "Pat Pend."
It was made about 1920.

The pencil was in a German-made wooden pencil box owned by a young scholar living and attending school in Buck Creek, Iowa, in Bremer County in 1923.  Later that young man became the father of my father-in-law.  His box was kept intact all these years.

Also with the Signet mechanical pencil were wooden pencils and a dip pen with cork top.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Waterman 3 Leans into the Future

Although I have another Waterman pencil in this same dark terra cotta marble, this is a model new to me:   the Waterman 3 pencil made to be sold alongside the Waterman 3 lever-fill fountain pen.  Presumably the 3 came before the 7 pen, which was sold in 1927.  The 3 pen was available in hard rubber, but transitioned into celluloid marble.  Possibly this is true of 3 pencils, too. 

Waterman 3 Pen.  Image courtesy of Peyton Street Pens.

A flat top combined with the riveted ball clip signals the model.  It is a nose drive pencil of 4 & 7/8 inches using 1.1 mm lead.  It has chrome trim, but gold trim was available.  The clip is marked "Waterman's" wherein the two a s are italicized.  It also has an incised inscription on the back of the cap, WATERMAN'S, REG US PAT OFF, MADE IN USA.  The cap unscrews to access the eraser.

The riveted clip is similar to the Waterman 91 pencil, and the cap screws off in the same way, too, but the 91 has a shaped rather than flat top, and has no name logo on the clip.

Above you can see the stylistic differences in the clips.  Below you can see the same marble as was used in the 95 pencil, which coordinated with the 5 fountain pen.  The band size is the same, and the cap screws off in the same way.  They both have two-part tips, but the 3 tip is longer and more tapered.

So, the 3 pencil carried an older-style clip, updated with a name logo, and was made with a marble and a tip style that was used into the future for 95 and Thoroughbred pencils up until they were phased out in 1939. Sadly, they named this marble "Brown" in the catalog.  
It is much too handsome to deserve that!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Autopoint with Metal Cap

Autopoint is an interesting company to mechanical pencil collectors because, unlike many other pencil makers, they weren't particularly obsessed with pens.  Yes, they made them, but it was pencils that were the mainstay of the company.

This black, ten-sided, nose-drive pencil has a ribbed metal cap covering the eraser.  At 5.75 inches, it is long and slim, too, with a plain, straight clip.  Sadly, the clip's chrome finish is in poor condition.  Under the cap is where to look for the Autopoint mark:  "Autopoint" in italic script, "PAT AND PATS PENDING, MADE IN USA, CHICAGO."

Thanks to Jon Veley for dating this pencil to the mid-1940s.  The model was called the "new lightweight" Model 72, and a notice has been inscribed on the side of the pencil that it is "FOR Real Thin LEAD."  The words Real Thin are in the font Realite used on their pencil clips.  Realite owned the Autopoint company from 1923 on, calling the merged company Autopoint Products Company.

In spite of its slightly tatty condition, I like this unassuming pencil.  It makes me want to look at Autopoints more often.

The Autopoint Twinpoint is discussed here:

Two Realites are shown here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Black Moores

Two Moore pencils from the 1930s came my way, but instead of colorful celluloid, they are as black as a raven's wing.

The smaller, 4.5" middle twist pencil does have a tiny top of yellow marble with a black dot like a bird's eye in the center.  Made in the early 1930s, this pencil still has the Moore 1925 patented ball clip marked Moore with the Os intertwined. The pencil uses 1.1 mm lead.  There is gold-tone trim, and an imprint on the top half which reads "THE MOORE PEN CO. BOSTON, MASS. USA." It has the thirties-era streamlined shape, introduced by Sheaffer in 1929, but it is a chunky version, all of 3/8 inch thick.

Keeping up with the trend, the Moore Mastercraft was introduced in 1937-- much more streamlined and slender, with a pointed metal jewel at the top holding a newly-designed clip. 

A Mastercraft pencil is a pleasure to hold, and uses the more modern 0.9 mm lead.  Measuring 5", this all black Mastercraft is a man's pencil, while the lady's  Mastercraft is a petite 4.25 inches.  You can follow the link to see it in a previous post.

Its only mark is "Moore" inscribed on the clip.  In the photo below you can see the bullseye-style metal jewel.  The gold trim is untarnished.  A ribbed band divides the middle twist pencil in two.

 You can see a 1940s man's Mastercraft in striated celluloid in this previous blog:  

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Jones Dairy, Maker Unknown

It's a little odd to find in the family desk, a pencil from a dairy wholesaler.  Irv Jones, of Jones Dairy in Des Moines, only sold his milk wholesale.  I can't quite figure how our family would have acquired this pencil, but I'm pretty sure my grandfather was involved.  He loved meeting people, and at one time worked for Flynn Dairy in Urbandale.

There is no maker marking on this cream-yellow marble pencil with the milk bottle cap.  It is a 5 & 3/8 inch middle twist pencil, and the milk bottle pulls off.  There's an eraser underneath.  The silver-colored trim is in nice condition, but the friction-fit tube-drive mechanism is stripped, unfortunately.
It uses 1.0 mm lead, dating this to the early-to-mid 1930s.  One possibility for the maker is the Quickpoint company of St. Louis, who made mostly advertising pencils.

If you know more, please leave a comment.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Surprise: Shaw - Barton

Before Anderson - Erickson Dairy ordered their advertiser pencils from Sheaffer, what a surprise!, they used Shaw - Barton.  From the family desk drawer:

Shaw - Barton started making pencils in 1940 when they purchased a calendar company (making other specialty advertising items, as well) in their hometown of Coshocton, in east central Ohio.  This is a slim 1940s middle twist pencil, using the recently introduced slim lead (0.9 mm).  It is 5 inches long.

Shaw Barton is stamped into the top of the slightly rusty clip--you need a magnifying glass to see it.
The top "jewel" is crackled transparent yellow plastic, maybe Lucite, an acrylic-based plastic.

Other family A-E pencils can be seen here:  More Sheaffers in the Waterman Family Desk

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Redipoint Advertisers from the Family Desk

Although I don't usually collect pencils with advertising, these were foisted upon me.  They were in the family desk drawers and pencil cups, and it just didn't seem right to toss them.  They have a connection to places my great aunt lived and worked.  From the time capsule of family history, so to speak.

This 1930s Redipoint nosedrive pencil has cream and tortoise shell celluloid marbles and gold-toned trimmings.  The Redipoint company story is complicated and even scandalous! You can read all about it on Jon Veeley's pencil blog linked above.

The left-handedness of this pencil refers to the way the ad was printed on the pencil, so it could be read if you held the pencil in your left hand.  It originated with the Comer Motor Repair Shop in Granger, Iowa. Slightly later, the shop went right-handed with this Redipoint.

 It has the same nose drive mechanism, the same tortoise shell marble, but has a white center and new advertising gimmick:  the shop is your "doctor of motors."  A repairman is using his stethoscope to diagnose a convertible's ailment.

This final Redipoint has an eight-ball telephone dialer end cap.  It features the same nose drive mechanism, three-part construction, and has the same clip as the other Redipoints above.  The plastics are all solid colors, and the advertising comes from an Ogden, Iowa, feedstore which cautions its customers not to "get behind the eight ball" and run out of feed.  It ends with, "Thank you for your cooperation."  You'd almost think the farm animals had written the text!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Jade Green

Do you like a hefty green marble pencil?  If so, you'll like this Eclipse bell top from about 1923.

You can see at once why this marble is called "jade."  The jade bell top is 5 inches, with gold metal fittings.  It has the script writing on the clip, along with the 1923 patent date (9/18/23) in teeny numerals, as well as Eclipse in an oval, inside a circle--also teeny--at the top of the clip. 

It's a cream and green marble, with darker and lighter greens.  I wonder if Irish Republicans living in New York in 1923, one year after Irish independence, bought this pencil for themselves or their families at home in Erin, the Emerald Isle.  If so, most appropriate!

A couple of years later, Sheaffer introduced their "Titan" bell top with a similar marble.  The Titan was another 1/4 inch longer, but the jade was a bit paler colored, and more of a yellow-green.  Here they are together.

In 1923, there was also this new perfume:

Très à la mode.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Last Watermans of the English-Speaking World

The American Waterman company ended production in the late 1950s.  More than 20 years later it was revived, but in France, where the company still makes writing instruments.  In England, the company may have continued until the French-based Waterman's took over.  These three examples are the end of the story for both locations.

The green striated marble with gold trim is an English-made middle twist pencil with "military" clip and a simple "Made In England" impressed mark;  it lacks the Waterman name on the marble.

At almost 5 inches, it is larger than the earlier British-made Waterman of  4.25 inches.  Possibly these were meant to be a man's and a lady's pencil.  The more decorative band on the smaller pencil could support that idea, too.  They are the "Commando" model.

On the other side of the pond, the Taperite model pen and pencil were second-to-last of the American-made products for Waterman's.  This black plastic, gold cap and tip, 5 inch Taperite pencil is slim and uses the 0.9 mm "thin" lead.  It has a lightweight, even flimsy feel, and is a nose-drive mechanism with a line of grip on the tip.  An eraser is under the cap.  There is no other marking than the name on the clip.

The last Waterman is this pencil made to accompany the "Cartridge Fill" pen of the late 1950s, another ho-hum model name.  You have to wonder if a more exciting name might not have helped the company survive a few more years in the US.  Sheaffer went on longer with their "Skripsert" cartridge-filled pen and matching pencil, but who knows?

At least this one feels more substantial than the Taperite.  It is 5.25 inches and uses 0.9 lead. The eraser is under the cap.  The modern-looking clip is gold-trimmed while the cap is silver, over a black plastic barrel.  Waterman's and Made in USA is inscribed on the base of the cap.

Au revoir!