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.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pencil and Watercolor Sketch--Botanical

Jewel Weed
Cedar Ridge Reserve
Cedar Falls, IA

Dad's College "Pearlie"

My dad worked his way through college in the 1940s, first attending Grand View College, or "The Danish School," as it was called, on Des Moines' East Side.

Then he moved on to Drake Unversity, earning his bachelor's degree.

As the first of a family of fifteen to attend college, he took his opportunity seriously, and worked hard to learn and make the most of his classes.  He worked nights at the Anderson Erickson Dairy to pay for his tuition and lodgings.

Naturally, he was frugal, so his college note-taking writing instrument of choice was a Sheaffer "Pearlie" pencil.  He bought it for that purpose at the stationery store, so it is without advertising, and he used it from the mid-1940s until 2016, when it came to me--about 70 years.  For a utilitarian pencil, that's a pretty amazing service record.  There was no lifetime warranty on Pearlies, but apparently they lasted as long as if there had been.  I have certainly seen this pencil on Dad's desk all my life.  That kind of continuity must be rare now-a-days.

The Sheaffer Pearlie is 5 & 1/4 inches, with 0.9 mm lead, and an exposed eraser.  The clip is attached to the pearl center section, and it is middle-twist operated.  Here is the simple clip of this era's Pearlie:

Sheaffer lead in its metal tin.

The imprint on this one, also on the pearl section, reads, "WA Sheaffer Pen Co., Fort Madison, Iowa, USA, Made in USA, FE 150 W."  I wonder if  $1.50 was the price, but if so, what was the W?

I imagine Dad's fountain pen was a Sheaffer, too.  I vaguely remember it, but it has been lost in the shuffle.  You can see my 1950s pink Pearlie here:  Southern Iowa Sheaffers

Later, I found the pen, and several more Pearlies:  Waterman Family Desk

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Little Black Pencil

Coco Chanel is credited with making the "little black dress" a fashion staple when she brought out this version in 1926. It had only a simple chevron design and was otherwise unrelieved black, simple in shape, classic in style.

It was immediately coined "Chanel's Model T," after Henry Ford's "car for the multitudes" made (in black) from 1908 to 1927.  I daresay an original Chanel dress and a Model T cost about the same!

Waterman Pen Company may have been influenced by both Chanel and Ford when they offered their Patrician and and Lady Patricia pen and pencil lines.  They offered both in "Jet" with chromium trim.
The ad for the Lady Patricia pen states,"Lady Patricia is designed expressly for the woman who demands not only a perfect writing instrument but one attractive enough to be used as an accessory for her handbag.  It embodies many features dear to the feminine heart--dainty, jewel-like design--slender grip--and a chic, modern clasp that secures Lady Patricia conveniently upright in even a crowded bag.  The polished disc on top of cap offers an ideal place for engraving."  The matching pencil looked like this.

It is 4 & 1/4 inches with 1.1 mm lead and an eraser under the top cap.  The top's "polished disc" is indeed plain and the clip (clasp, in the ad) and band have a subtle design.  

This twist pencil has a Waterman imprint on the back of the cap which says "Waterman's, Reg US Pat Off, Made in USA."

If you'd like to see the onyx Lady Patricia, it is in the final photo of this blog:  Made for Each Other