Thursday, December 22, 2016

Two Points of View. . . uh. . .Lead

Recently I ran across a nice Autopoint "Twinpoint" pencil in its original box with leaflet in never-even-used condition.  It got me to wondering about double-ended pencils, so I looked for more of them and only found one other company who made a double-point mechanical pencil. It is on the other end of the alphabet from Autopoint:  the Zaner-Bloser company of Columbus, Ohio.  There are quite a few pen/pencil double-ended writing tools, but only these two pencils, as far as I know.
The Autopoint is the adult version, while the Zaner-Bloser is more the kids' version.  They both have a red and a blue lead.  Naturally, they are nose-drive pencils.

Zaner-Bloser pencil

Autopoint pencil
The Autopoint company has a long and complex history, having been owned by Bakelite, Union Carbide, Cory, the Hershey Chocolate company, Gillette, and Papermate. At the time this double-ended pencil was made, Autopoint was a division of the Cory Corporation.  To me, Cory is best-know for its glass coffee maker, shown here in an ad from the Ladies Home Journal of 1948.  Its founder invented the glass filter used in the all-glass pot--kind of reminds me of something in chemistry lab!



1801 Foster Avenue, the Autopoint factory in Chicago, is now a brewery with taproom.  Autopoint is now an independently owned company located in Janesville, Wisconsin, from whom you can buy lead in several colors and sizes, and other Autopoint creations, including the Twinpoint and two other styles of mechanical pencils.  Here is a link to the current Autopoint Catalog 

Leaflet in the original box


This is the riveted clip used by Autopoint for decades.  
Now the Twinpoint pencil has an "accommodation clip" which can be reversed or even removed.



Twinpoint pencil's original box


Isn't that a stylish logo?
And here are the two points.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Pleased to Meet You




It's always a pleasure to receive an introduction to a new-to-me brand.  This time it is Marx Finstone's New York City pen and pencil company that created this 5 & 1/4 inch Eclipse.  My new pal is a 1930s model with the patented 2-piece clip, which gives the patent date, 9-18-23, shows the Eclipse logo in a circle, and also says Eclipse in caps.





It is a flat-top with a black cap and gold trim.



The cap has an eraser under it.  It is a rear-drive pencil with the larger 1.1 mm lead,
and yellow-green and black celluloid marble case.
If the top were pointed, you'd think of a ball clip Sheaffer Balance; 
they are similar in substance and style.





It's good to be back in New York!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

After the War

The years immediately after WW II were an interesting time.  Materials for manufacturing became available again; plastics, for example, took a big upturn.  Fashion became possible, and art became modern.  Veterans could attend college via the GI Bill, and Europe was re-building thanks to the Marshall Plan.


Instant Tea--possibly a result of wartime troop rations technology.

Drive-ins and burger stands were springing up, here's one photographed in about 1948--McDonald's! 


TV was available in its infant form, a 7 inch screen in a big wood cabinet that looked like a radio.
Radio was still the most popular medium for entertainment.  NBC's "The Sheaffer Parade," featuring California bandleader and vocalist, Eddy Howard, was on Sundays at 2 PM, sponsored by the Sheaffer Pen Company.  They also sponsored a Saturday morning show on CBS radio, "The Adventurer's Club."

Eddy Howard

Sheaffer pens, both fountain and ball point, with accompanying pencils were heavily advertised on radio and in print, with an emphasis on dependability.  Pens were offered with a lifetime warranty, and were marked to indicate this with a white dot.  Their matching pencils carried a white dot, too.



Here are two of the top Sheaffer pencil models of 1948, the Sentinel, with a gold and silver cap and plastic barrel (and a white dot), and the Crest, with an all-gold cap, either 1/10 14 k gold-filled or all 14 k gold, and plastic barrel.  Gold and plastic together--that seems to sum up the post-war era nicely.



This Crest is gold-filled, both have the Sheaffer imprint on the cap and the barrel.  They use the thin lead of the time, 0.9 mm, and have erasers under the cap.  The Crest model is also marked FA 500.
F for filled? A --no clue, and 500 would be the price of $5.00, presumably.



The Crest model has a double-layer point, to prevent lead breakage, according to ads of the time.
They are sleek and modern, not unlike this 1948 Jackson Pollock, "Number 14."


Reminds me why I don't collect pens.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Just Because

Sometimes you take home a pencil just because you want to--you see it and say, "Oooo, pretty!"  Just like a kid in the candy shop. I really liked the smooth shape of this one.  I liked the translucent green of this celluloid marble, along with the veins of red and swirls of cream.  I don't think I have ever seen this celluloid before--it caught my eye.


It's a Wearever, from the New Jersey company that began in the 1910s, and went on to mass-produce jillions of pens and pencils with, most collectors say, a penchant for quantity over quality.  This pencil is most likely from the late 1920s/early 1930s, with a ball clip, and a nice center band.  The gold-tone trim is in good condition, except where worn on the ball of the clip.




It is a middle-twist pencil, with an eraser under the cap, and the 1.1 mm lead of the time.


Did you think, "Ooo, pretty!"?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Artpoint for Art's Sake

I am so grateful to Jon Veeley for his pencil and patent expertise, and for showing pencil aficianados interesting pencils and the history behind them, as in this 5-part series about the "Artpoint" line from the short-lived Dollarpoint company:  Artpoint 5-Part Series   Scroll to the bottom, for the start of the series, on "The Leadhead's Pencil Blog."

To see these is to love them, surely.  For their own sake, as pencil art.  So naturally I was delighted to be able to acquire one of my own recently, this gold-fill over nickel example:


Design of the 1920s, when these pencils were made, was a beautiful mixture of classical and Art Nouveau styling, like this interior:


What a time to be alive, the jazz age, the age of women's sufferage, gas cookstoves, the birth of auto-travel, and other wonderful innovations, even the bread slicer machine!  How often my grandmother or great aunt said something was "the best thing since sliced bread!" They would know, because bread in their youth was unsliced.  Before this, all bread was what the grocery store is now pleased to call "artisan bread."  Here is the inventor, Otto Rohwedder, of Davenport, Iowa, with the first machine, and its operator, busily slicing bread.



Thank goodness Victorian times were past.  Fashion for women had undergone a massive and permanent renovation, from long, heavy, inconvenient skirts to light knee-length styles, from corseted wasp-waists to drop-waist dresses with, really, no waist at all.  What a relief!


To me, the Artpoint looks drop-waisted, too, with its small flat-top cap, decorative band and then the long, ribbed barrel ending in decorative bands and smooth point.  This one is 5 & 3/8 inches, with 1.1 mm lead, and a small, sturdy clip.  Ring-tops were also available.  See a ring-top here: Dollarpoint's Little Lady  Around the final band before the point is imprinted  ARTPOINT.




Inside the screw-off cap, the imprint reads, "Dollarpoint Pencil Corp., Los Angeles--U.S.A."



Clearly, it was a product of its time.  Now all that remains is for me to whittle away the 1 & 1/2 inch lead jam that is preventing this beauty from writing again.  I'll do it, for art's sake.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Moore Mastercraft

From about 1938 (when the "thin" 0.9 mm lead was introduced) comes this addition to my Moore family of pencils, a lady-like size "Mastercraft."  A sweet little masterpiece.


It was a transitional time.  The Depression was about over, WWII not yet begun, and many new products and innovations were making their way into the market, like the obsessively-played mastermind board game, introduced by Parker Brothers in 1935, with this box design from 1937-38.



JRR Tolkien's "The Hobbit," with his own illustration on the jacket had come to America.  He was already writing his master work, "The Lord of the Rings."


At my dad's alma mater, Drake University, the young radio sportscaster known as the voice of the Drake Relays, had just departed for Hollywood to begin a dizzying career that would spin him from B-movies to a charismatic mastery of the highest office in the land.


FDR was the hero of the age, having masterminded a fix for the Depression, and baseball was the favored sport of the nation.  The term "World Series" hadn't caught on yet.  Here is FDR throwing out the first ball.


Into this dynamic scene, Moore marketed their "Mastercraft" line.  It was a better quality pencil than they had made in the Depression, with a new clip design and pretty celluloid, like this.



This one is a 4 & 1/4 inch middle-twist pencil with the new thin lead, eraser under the cap, and gold-tone clip, top jewel, and band. The only marking is "Moore" on the clip.



The Mastercraft helped Moore survive WWII, and with the introduction of the "Fingertip" pen and pencil, they were able to continue until 1956.