Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cherish the Ladies

It's the English translation of an Irish jig tune called Tabhair aire do na Mná, and it's the name of a phenomenal Celtic music band with only women members, but I had the idea that this thought might also have been in the minds of mechanical pencil-makers. So many ladies' versions of pencils were made in diminutive, nicely decorated and exotically colored designs, something you would be happy to gaze on every time you went to make a list or write a note. 

Women received suffrage in 1920, and began to take a more active role in affairs outside the home. They became even more active consumers and purchasers of goods, so the pencil market naturally catered to them. Here are four examples I am pleased to own and use:

Above is an onyx celluloid Lady Patricia with ox-blood point made by the Waterman company in the 1930s.  The design on the clip and around the center band reminds me of mermaid scales, or overlapping feathers.  At 4 & 1/4 inches, it is one of the longer ladies' pencils.  Only the imprint on the back has the Waterman name.  Below you can see the washer-style clip and center band.  The top screws off to reveal an eraser. 

Another big name maker, Sheaffer, sold this petite green and black "marble" Balance at about the same time, and it is also 4 & 1/4 inches.   This twist-mechanism Balance has a top which pulls off for access to the eraser.  The Balance and the Lady Patricia use 1.1 mm lead.  Which is more elegant?  I can't decide.

Here is a modest little unmarked pencil in cream "marble" with a black dot for a top jewel, a tiny Art Deco clip, and a simple center band. It has three rounds of "grip" to help you advance the lead with the nose-drive mechanism. It's as light as a feather to hold, and measures 4 inches.

Finally, the smallest ladies' pencil is below. At 3 & 1/4 inches it is almost too small to write with comfortably, but so convenient to put in your pocket. The Salz "Peter Pan" in emerald "marble" also has a nose-drive mechanism, and a pierced-design center band which features on other Salz pencils. I sure hope they made this in red!

I'll be cherishing these four favorites, and any other petite pencils that come my way.

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