These are some very old Eagle mechanical pencils (or leadholders):
They are called Eagle Automatic, or they appear to be that brand. (The last three have no visible name but have Eagle patent dates imprinted on metal parts.) The model numbers of the first and third appear to be 802 and 865.
Here is a box label:
I find it interesting that there seem to be differently labeled pencils for different leads, even though the pencils holding the leads may be otherwise identical. Maybe the clutch is slightly different for different leads, or maybe it is simply (if somewhat extravagantly) to help the user identify the lead. Experts?
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:
It shows a patent date of 1873:
I also have this Centennial 1876 made somewhat later by Dixon. But in my opinion, it’s not quite as nice:
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: