Monday, December 30, 2013

Pencil Sketch--Madonna & Child

Illustrated manuscript
Madonna & Child

Transparent Square 4

To close out the year, at the last minute, comes a pencil unlike any other featured here:  the Eversharp Square 4.  Its 1.1 mm lead was both square-shaped and 4 inches long, giving the pencil its name.  Although utilitarian, it has style and a bit of quality, too.  It is 6 & 1/2 inches long, big and bold.

The case of this pencil is transparent green celluloid, with a brick-work design in black strokes superimposed over the surface.  The case tapers to a metal tip, or nose, and for once, has enough grip on the nose to be really easy to turn.  Because the case is square, as well as the lead, it does not roll off your desk.

The large eraser is held by a top made of what looks to be black Bakelite and aluminium.  It unscrews to reveal the spare leads, held in four compartments on each corner of the square case.  My example contained four leads which only needed to have the white-ish bloom wiped off them to be perfect and functional.  The press clip is lower on the case, since the pencil is so long.  It says "Eversharp" in the typical italicized capital letters.  At the top of the clip is "Made in USA."

I hope you can see the spiral screw in the photo above, through the transparent case, ending in a ribbed cap, part of the nose-drive mechanism. Fortunately, it is working perfectly.  Below is the the lead package for this pencil.

With lead this long, you could write, draw, or doodle until the next new year comes along.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Balance in Transition II

As previously discussed, a marble Sheaffer Balance with a rigid radius clip was a pencil in transition.  (See my blog, Balance In Transition ) Further light has been shed on the idea by an ad for Sheaffer pens, below, from May 1937 in which we see a rigid radius clip pen made of "ebonized pearl" celluloid next to one with striated celluloid.  Clearly from 1936 through 1937, the two celluloid patterns ran together for the Sheaffer Balance pens and presumably for the matching pencils.

I happily came upon another example of the ebonized pearl Balance pencil with the longer rigid radius clip, this time in a monochromatic color scheme of black and grey pearl, with silver trim.  The black and grey ebonized pearl does not have the plain black top and tip.  This is the largest size Balance pencil measuring 5 & 5/8 inches, and, like the smaller transitional black and blue ebonized pearl Balance, has the imprint with the patent number and uses 1.1 mm lead.  This is also a lifetime warranty pen's companion.

Below you can see a large striated rigid radius pencil alongside this pearl pencil.

And here is a better view of the clips and center bands.

They balance each other nicely.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New to Me

It was exciting to discover a new brand of pencil this week, one that seems promising to a new collector.  It is Esterbrook, of Camden and later Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  My find is this Esterbrook repeater.

I am reliably informed that this 5" striated celluloid repeater pencil with 1.1 mm lead is related to the J-Series pens made by Esterbrook.  It falls within the "transitional" period of 1944-1947, and probably toward the end of that time.  The color is called "copper," and is nicer in person, a lot like figured cherry or maplewood. 

The imprint is the only clue to its origin, so here is it is highlighted to be more visible.

The clips of some Esterbrooks have the name on them, but not this one.  Here is a look at the washer clip and the black "jewel" end, which, interestingly enough, screws off.  The cap removes to reveal an eraser.

Here's a better view of the imprint, which says Esterbrook, Made in U.S.A., and the center band.

The tip shows some ribbing for grip, and you can see the lead gripping mechanism, too.

Now that I have been introduced, I hope I can meet more of the family.

Since then, my wish came true with this find, a slightly later Esterbrook J series double jewel pencil, whose only difference is the addition of the name in caps on the clip.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Only the Lonely

Here are some "singleton" (as single-birth puppies are called) pencils that have never had their moment in the sun because they are alone, the sole representatives of their type in my pencil collection.  They aren't really lonely, I keep them together in the Miscellaneous box, but they're like only children, or orphans, even.

I like the carmel color of this swirl-celluloid, but, oops, the clip is broken.  It is a 1.1 mm lead pencil with middle drive.  That might be an N on what's left of the clip, possibly for Netop.  It works well, and although brassed, bitten, and scratched, it carries on with its job.

Another 1.1 mm lead middle-drive pencil is this green Wearever.  The black and white striped top is its special feature, and the press clip is sturdy and untarnished.  It is a humble, unobtrusive worker-bee pencil.  I filled it with green lead, and enjoy doodling green leaves and vines with it.

Salz Brothers of New York made this cream lustre celluloid pencil, called a Stratford.  That sounds faintly Ivy League, but it's a workaday 1.1 mm lead, nose-drive pencil, with a press clip.  I like the pierced-design center band that these Salz pencils have, and this one's "brass" is in good condition.  It works smoothly, but has a light, insubstantial feel.

This one is really an orphan--no name at all.  A middle-drive, with 1.1 mm lead, it also has a press clip in the black celluloid top part, while the bottom is white marble.  The "brass" is sound, and the mechanism works well.  It has a somber look--a pencil in evening attire.

The flip side is this Ritepoint from St. Louis, Missouri, which is mostly white marble and just a little black Bakelite.  Ever since giving my dad the QEII pencil for Father's Day, I have been noticing Ritepoints.  (See my blog Getting There is Half the Fun! )  It has a washer clip, drive-tube twist mechanism, and the top comes off to reveal an eraser.  It uses 1.1 mm lead, and has an imprint in the Bakelite section.  It's a nice, solid pencil.

Finally, here is an Osborne pencil in yellow marble.   Its clip is part of the gold-tone top jewel, and is streamlined and modern.  The lead is the post-1938 0.9 mm, and to help you remember that, it has a 9 stamped on the center band.  Made in Clifton, New Jersey, this pencil has a fine, hefty feel, and a smooth middle-drive mechanism.  It lacks the black and white striped top (as seen on the green Wearever, above) that many Osbornes have.  With its cheerful color, I doubt it will remain lonely for long.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Petite and Silver

When I started this blog, I never imagined I would discuss fashion so often!  But I have developed a taste for ladies' pencils, and they just naturally remind one of the days of hats and gloves, when people other than British royalty dressed more formally. These petites are more dressy than the flashier marble pencils.  They were fashion accessories in their own times, and fit the fashions of the period.

Grey is the new black, so I heard tell.  Here is a Ketcham and McDougall pin-on 4 inch pencil with retractable chain.  These are nose drive pencils, but the mechanism works perfectly.  This one probably dates to the late 1930s/early 1940s as it is celluloid, not plastic.

This is my first sterling silver Sheaffer, a bell-top (with ring) rear-drive pencil with ornate floral engraving, circa 1920-1925.  It is a tiny 3 & 1/2 inches long.  The flowers appear to be wild roses--the state flower of Iowa, where this pencil was made. It is attached to a pin-back Ketcham and McDougall accessory holder.

Another sterling rear-drive ring-top pencil, 4.25 inches, made by Wahl Eversharp, with leaf and flower design.  It probably predates the Sheaffer pencil by a few years.  It has a Doric column-capital top.

Finally, a Lady--the name for a Sheaffer "Tuckaway" 4 inch twist pencil with the thin center-band.  It is striated silver and black celluloid with the petite clip and snub-nosed point that all the "Tuckaways" have.  It sold for $3.50 between 1942 and 1947.  Think suits with shoulder pads.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

So Marmoreal!

So many celluloid pencil cases are of "marble" design that I wanted to ponder marble a little.  The word comes from the Greek word marmaros, meaning "shining stone."  It was a symbol of immortality in Greek mythology, but in reality, marble is not that hard, it is soft enough to sculpt, and is prized for statuary. It can be eaten away by acid rain and pollution.  Pure marble is white; it is metamorphosed from limestone (calcium carbonate, thus the acid problem), but when things like minerals, clay, silt, and sand are layered with the limestone, colors and swirls of pattern are produced, as in these examples, below.

Fascinating patterns and colors were formed out of celluloid to mimic marble, and fairly successfully, too. Things that are marble-like are called "marmoreal."  Below are two Sheaffer Balance pencils of grey marble with red veining, from 1934-35.

This American News Company marble is yellow-gold with grey veining.

Two more Balances in black and yellow-green marble are shown with an unidentified all-white marble pencil.

An earlier Sheaffer bell-top pencil from the 1920s (below) shows a fine-textured type marble in emerald green, very attractive on this large, weighty, rear-drive example.

Of course, there is also this kind of marble, named for the stone they resemble, but made of glass.

And finally, the biggest marble of them all.

Something to ponder.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Balance in Transition

I needed another Sheaffer Balance like I needed a hole in the head, as my grandfather used to say.
However, as Shakespeare wrote in King Lear, "Reason not the need."  When this Balance in a color of marble I did not own showed up, I nabbed it.  But I also got a bit of a mystery along with it.

This is a color of marble called "ebonized pearl," introduced in 1934, which is black with the appearance of chips of mother of pearl floating in it.  Unlike other Balances of celluloid marble, it has a plain black tip and top.  As far as I can tell, all of the "ebonized pearl" Balances have the same black ends.  That's a mystery for another day.

It is marble, and it has the "lifetime warranty" center band of 1934-35, so it should also have a flattened ball clip, but it does not.  Mysteriously, it has a "rigid radius" clip usually only found on the striated celluloid pencils from 1936 to 1940.  It is 4 & 3/4 " and uses 1.1 mm lead.  It has the imprint that includes Sheaffer's patent number.  It has the longer clip, like my "rose glow" striated Balance, which also has 1.1 mm lead and the patent number imprint.

I'm going to call the "ebonized pearl" pencil with the later clip a Balance in transition.  You can imagine that when they changed to the new clip, they may have had some marble cases left to put them on.

More transitions were slated for the Sheaffer Balance.  Below are two more striated Balances, but on these the rigid radius clip is shorter, and there is no patent number on the imprint, but instead the 350 cost number. They use thinner 0.9 mm lead, which according to Wikipedia was introduced in 1938.  It's possible the shorter clips were introduced along with the thinner lead. Perhaps they changed the imprint at the same time to show the retail price.  New clip, new imprint, and new lead size--it was like a new Balance.

And that's the long and the short of it!