From time to time I’ll be exhibiting pencils with errors or odd features, grouped into categories, of course. This post will feature problems with pencil tips.
But does “tip” refer to the end of the pencil that may have an eraser (its usual meaning), or to the sharpened end (which seems better described)? The ambiguity of this term has always bugged me. I will mean the former, usually.
Mallard Pencil Company, Georgetown, Kentucky.
Some advertising pencils advertise themselves as models of ad pencils available from suppliers. They often have a brand name and product number, but collectors don’t consider them to be “brand-name” pencils. —
Here are wood-toned types:
These show some companies that produced ad pencils:
Indiana Pencil Co and Union Pencil Co also made brand-name pencils, as shown in my Obscure U.S. Pencil Companies post. Pencil Specialty Company was a division of American Pencil Co. It is often ambiguous whether or not specific pencil suppliers did more than the printing, but its pencil confirms that Wilkerson-Akers did manufacture pencils. Note that Cincinnati Pencil Company was located in Nitro, West Virginia.
One of the first wooden pencils I ever spent a chunk of money on was a very old and unusual one that I had never seen before, from the Clark Indelible Pencil Company of Northampton, Massachusetts. I obtained several varieties since then.
These specialized pencils were made for writing permanently on cloth and other materials.
The active part of the pencil is integrated with a protective tube:
A patent from 1866 (http://todayinsci.com/Events/Patent/IndeliblePencilPatent56180.htm) describes in detail how the pencil was made. The indelible ingredient in the lead is silver nitrate. I remember this substance from my high school Chemistry class because it gave us permanent (until the skin wore off) stains on our hands.
At first I thought that the leads were square. But the patent describes how round leads were made from paste pressed into a mold, then placed into sawed grooves and enclosed with a strip of wood (clearly visible in the fourth pencil insert). Hence, it’s a round lead (with cementing material) in a square hole.
Some of the pencils have second insert, a soft chalky substance in a paper tube. I think this is probably gypsum. The patent talks about gypsum as an ingredient of the lead, where it forms a compound that prevents softening due to atmospheric moisture. Instructions on the label seem to describe the substance being rubbed on a dampened area of the cloth prior to writing. Maybe it is gypsum helping to stabilize the mark. —
A box with French labels, showing that Clark’s pencils were sold by A.W. Faber in Paris:
The sixth pencil in the first photo is one of the newer ones. The label suggests some new uses, including marking toothbrushes (no more disgusting mix-ups!) and umbrellas. It came with this price list:
Hello, readers. Don’t worry, I am still around and have plenty more things to show and write about. I just haven’t had time to produce new images. I’ll be back!
Kapoff, from American Pencil Co., has a bottle opener on top —
The metal piece on this Eagle pencil says “Spark-Tip” —
I once thought it was for producing sparks (but why?) or lighting matches, but I couldn’t see how it would work. Now I think it is for testing spark plugs, although I don’t know exactly how.
My favorites of course are these Tape-Measure pencils —
The tapes go to 18 inches.
Philatelists are familiar with overprints on old postage stamps. Often they were used to alter the postal value. A similar concept was applied to a pencil —
You can see that the original No. 2 imprint was changed to 3 —
Apparently the manufacturer realized that the 2 was an error and made this correction. Another possibility: They made these to fill a rush order for No. 3s, hoping the customer wouldn’t notice anything suspicious.
You may have noticed that some colors copy better than others on Xerox and other copying machines that you’ve used. While this phenomenon is sometimes an annoyance, it has practical applications, such as not reproducing alignment lines and written comments.
There are, of course, specialized pencils for these applications. There have been many different copying technologies and purposes, and pencils designed for optimal performance in each situation were produced.
Dixon produced an extensive “Fax” line of such pencils. I have a set that came in a sales folder with information sheets —
Here are some double-ended varieties from other manufacturers:
(The No. 625 is from Richard Best.)