Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Couple of Couples

Over time, they say, married couples begin to look like each other, but these couples looked similar from the start.  They are both a set of lady and gentleman's pencils from Waterman, from the mid-1930s and early 1940s.

Above are pencils in the 1930s "Thorobred" line in green & bronze agate.  The gent's pencil has silver trim, while the lady's has gold.  The lady's pencil has a brown celluloid tip, while the gent's has a black one.  Both the pencils above are imprinted on the removable cap, which contains an eraser:  "Waterman's /Reg. US Pat. Off. /Made in U.S.A."  They use 1.1 mm lead and are characterized by a totally flat top.  They are 5 and 4 & 1/2 inches respectively.

Sad to say, the lady's pencil has lost its clip, which fitted into the top like the Lady Patricia's clip (shown top-most, above). The Lady Thorobred pencil has a narrower band than the Lady Patricia, and a stubbier tip, but longer point.

In the 1940s, Waterman's continued to cater for both men and women with their mid-range "Commando."  Here is a man's in black and a woman's in striated gold, both with gold-tone trim. While they look like repeaters, they are actually nose drive pencils, measuring 4 & 1/2 and 5 inches.

The clips fasten onto the flat tops, and have an aeronautical feel to the design. Only the clip carries the Waterman name.  Although it was available, Waterman's had not yet moved to the thinner 0.9 mm lead for these pencils.

Two Waterman couples, enough for a table of bridge.  Who's keeping score?  

Later, I was able to find this Thorobred lady's pencil with clip intact; here it is:

See my blog about Waterman's products during the second world war:  WWII and Waterman's

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Greenback Dollar

From the hard times of the early 1930s comes this Wahl Eversharp "Dollar" pencil, advertised as a "popular priced" writing instrument in a line which included mechanical pencils for as much as $5.63 in 1930, and as little as 60 cents.  The full-sized 5 & 1/2 inch "Dollar" pencil shown has a black tip, black removable top cap with eraser underneath, and gold-tone point, bands, and ball clip, while the body of the pencil is finely grained jade green "marble."

It is a middle-drive twist pencil with 1.1 mm lead.

The stock market crash of 1929 and the drought and dust-storms that plagued the mid-section of America made even a dollar too much--much too much!--to pay for a pencil.  

The farmers benefiting from Hoover's 1929 Farm Relief Bill probably used wooden pencils to record and add up their seed and feed bills--they cost a few pennies.

From the dust bowl came bankrupt farmers and businessmen, out-of-work farm laborers, and migrant farm workers, all seeking a living in greener pastures of plenty.  Among these was one man who chronicled the times with songs of the people, whose guitar was, famously, a machine that killed fascists.  He was to be a significant influence on American music.  For important documents he used a fountain pen.

I don't want your millions, mister.
I don't want your diamond ring.
All I want is the right to live, mister.
Give me back my job again.

Words by Woody Guthrie to the tune of "Greenback Dollar"

I don't want your greenback dollar,
I don't want your silver chain,
All I want is your love, darling,
Won't you take me back again?

Traditional lyrics

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A New Name for the Waterman 94 & 95

Who was in charge of naming these?  The Waterman 94 Pen and the 95 Pencil.  I know it was The Great Depression, but had imagination gone bust, too?  They're a classy pen and pencil, and deserve better.  The 94 pen sold for $5 and the 95 pencil for $3.  That was pretty substantial for the time.  The trimming was either gold-filled or chromium-plated.  They were marble or agate celluloid in several colors.

Recently, I was able to add a grey marble 95 with chromium trim to my collection of Waterman pencils.  It is an almost green grey, and so is the darker, solid color point.  The marble has red veining--subtle, but attractive.  

The top has a molded bullseye instead of a jewel, and screws off to access the eraser.  There is no printing on the clip, and just a nice, subtle design on the center band.   The imprint is on the back of the cap, and says, "WATERMAN'S, Reg. US Pat. Off., Made in USA."  The 95 pencil uses the standard 1.1 mm lead.

Perhaps you saw the brown agate 95 with gold-filled trim I showed earlier.  See the blog page Made for Each Other.  Another very attractive pencil from the 1935-1939 era.

But back to the name---so boring, not at all distinctive! How about naming the 94/95s after the High Line? It was that famous New York City rail line which opened in 1934, and is supposed to be making a comeback this year. See more at the High Line website.

The more I think about it, the more I like it!  The Waterman "High Line!"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Moore for Me, Please!

Recently, I became acquainted with two of The Moore Pen Company's pencils.  They are admirable little ringtops, aged appromimately 92 and 85, and still in perfect shape.

Founded in Boston in 1899 by Morris Moore as The American Fountain Pen Company, Moore's patented retractable nib pen was the company's mainstay product until an employee, John Liddell, designed and patented a rear-drive pencil.  In 1917 the name was changed to The Moore Pen Company, and Liddell received a patent for his pencil on August 15, 1922.  It was the same year that President Warren Harding purchased the first radio for the White House, and later in the year made the first radio broadcast by a U. S. president.

In 1922 construction of Yankee Stadium began, although I doubt they cared too much about that in Boston.  Betty White, Judy Garland, and Ava Gardner were all born that year, and Walt Disney started his first film company, Laugh-O-Grams.

Walt Disney drawing in 1922

Below is the slim, 4 & 1/4 inch, 1922-patented Moore pencil in a chocolate brown hard rubber case with gold-filled trimmings.  It uses 1.1 mm lead, and along with Moore and the patent imprint, it is also marked L -- possibly for Liddell.  An eraser is under the cap.  It was also made in a larger model with a clip. The double-band design was advertised as the "Colonial" line. (See also a single band, "Luxor" model in this blog: Red Banded Moore Ringtop )

Liddell improved upon his pencil design, making the case flush with the tip and top, and increasing the girth of the pencil.  He was granted a new patent in 1925.  Calvin Coolidge was now President, and broadcast the first inaugural address over the radio.

WSM Radio in Nashville began its "Barn Dance" program, which later became "The Grand Ole Opry," and the first Cubs game was broadcast on radio (still without noticeable interest in Boston).  In 1925, W. P. Chrysler founded the Chrysler car company, and the first motoring hotel was opened in California, coining the term "Mo-tel." Marion Harris sang the year's hit song, "Tea for Two."

Marion Harris
Liddell's improved 1925 pencil with a new celluloid case in black and gold marble with gold-filled trimmings is shown below, in ringtop form.  Besides the Moore trademark, it also has the October 13, 1925 patent date imprinted on the case, but no L.  It measures 4 & 1/8" and uses 1.1 mm lead.  The cap pulls off to reveal an eraser.

The 1925 Moore pencil was also made with two kinds of clips, in a couple of sizes, and in solid colors as well as marble celluloids. The 1920s Moore pencils have a good, solid mechanism and are made of quality materials.  Like Betty White, many of them are still around, and still working.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thoroughly Waterman

A new Waterman arrived to take up a position in the Waterman collection, a Thorobred in a new-to-me color of marble celluloid, grey-green with burnt orange/sienna, black tip and silver-colored trimmings.  In Waterman advertising, the color was referred to as moss green and red agate.  The celluloid was made in a narrow strip which was spiralled around the case.  It is much like the red and green Thorobred in this blog:  Pen versus Pencil  The cap end is perfectly flat.

The Thorobred pencil, made in the 1935-1939 period, corresponded to the #3 lever-filled fountain pen.  It uses the older 1.1 mm lead, the cap twists off to reveal an eraser, and the mechanism works by twisting the black and silver tip.  The ball clip has Waterman's imprinted on it, and there is an imprint on the back of the cap which says, "Waterman's, Reg.US Pat. Off., Made in U.S.A."

With the Thorobred, like a solemn butler or aide de camp, comes this Waterman pencil, the Commando model of the 1940s.  It has gold-tone "military clip" and trim, and although it looks like a repeater, it is a nose-drive mechanism advancing 1.1 mm lead.

A thoroughly Waterman pair.

For more Waterman Thorobred pencils, see this blog: