My Collection – Photos and Commentary

Morphology

American Centennial

In honor of the recent 238th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, I present to you a very special pencil produced for the 100th anniversary in 1876. 

Appropriately, it is Centennial, from the American Lead Pencil Company.

The pencil is triangular, with red, white, and blue sides: 

CentennialCentennial CoCentennial blue

Centennial Triangular

It shows a patent date of 1873:

Centennial close

I also have this Centennial 1876 made somewhat later by Dixon.  But in my opinion, it’s not quite as nice:

Dixon Centennial

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Round Mirado

A round Eagle Mirado, paired with the hexagonal version:

Round and Hex Mirado 174

While it’s fairly common for a particular brand of pencil to be made in different forms, usually the models are given different product numbers (Mongol 480 and 482, for example).  Here, both are 174.


Tool Top

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.


Compass

A sleeve with movable needle arm makes these pencils into a drawing compass —

Compass


Tapered

Often I’ll present pencils having unusual shapes and sizes.  One of my favorites is the “tapered” shape.  Tapered pencils all seem to be quite old —

Ambassador Ad

Tapered Right

Tapered Left

Eagle Rubberhead

I find them uncomfortable to hold.  It feels like the pencil is getting squeezed backward.

This Egypt-themed one has a square cross-section, which makes the eraser end a pyramid —

Rameses

Pyramid

This one is very special —

Tapered Mongol Pencil

It is a Mongol 482, but very different from the standard model.  It has a hexagonal cross-section that transitions to round and tapers down.

Advertising pencils could also be tapered —

Tapered Ad Pencils

I also have a tapered mechanical pencil —

Tapered Mechanical front

Tapered Mechanical back

A sliding tab pushes the lead forward.


Dressmaker

These are dressmaker’s pencils, for marking patterns on fabric.  The brush is for wiping the mark off afterward, as ordinary erasers would be inefficient.

The top three are somewhat vintage.  I’ve got some newer Dritzs, but they are mint in package, and I wouldn’t want to limit their investment value by removing them.  That’s tongue in cheek (an idiom, my foreign readers), of course.  Yet I’ve always been reluctant to remove pencils from their blister packaging, even though I’d prefer to put them with my other pencils and save space.  And eventually, the glue on those packages disintegrates and the pencils fall out anyway.


Campaign 1928

Herbert Hoover ran against Al Smith in the 1928 U.S. presidential election.  Pencils topped with their likenesses, and others with broom-related slogans, were part of the campaigns —

The candidates battled head to head, but Hoover’s ultimately won.


Election

In honor of the upcoming presidential and general elections in the United States, presented here is a collection of specialized pencils for marking ballots.  All of them have (or had) a means of being attached to a voting booth — either a built-in string, or a ring or hole for attaching a string.  Several have indelible leads, although they don’t say so.

Some of these special pencils came into my possession after being literally ripped off.  I personally would never do such a thing.