Thursday, July 20, 2017

Autopoints and Auto . . . openers?

I had one of those ridiculous moments at the Chicago Pen Show this year, when I was sitting in a ballroom filled with enough writing instruments to satisfy my every whim . . . when a notification came through on my phone, and I was instinctively sucked into checking out what was going on on eBay.  There, in the middle of the show, I placed an order from an online seller for this one:

Nice color, sharp looking yellow trim bands . . . and a goofy taper flattened out to work as an envelope opener, I suppose.  On the barrel there’s a nice, crisp Autopoint imprint in addition to the advertising for Klempner Brothers:

The pencil is built around the clipless version of a line of early 1930s Autopoints I wrote about some time ago, at   In fact, the same color configuration appears on one of the pencils pictured in that article:

This new addition makes for a nice pair alongside the Autopoint desk pencil I’ve also written about, at

I bemoaned in that last article the absence of any Autopoint catalog references I knew about which documented the existence of a desk pencil, but the fact that both of these are clipless is as clear an indication as I need that these two are the real deal, and not just something pieced together.  Besides, I haven’t seen an envelope taper quite like this one anywhere else:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why Some of My Eversharps Are Upside Down

You might have noticed in my “World’s Largest Eversharp Collection” the occasional pencil that was pointed the opposite direction from the rest of the crowd.  Here’s one example, in the upper right:

There’s a very practical reason for that.  Sometimes I bring an Eversharp into my collection, not because there’s anything special about the pattern or the materials, but because of the top treatment.  Eversharp did some really nice stuff when it came to fraternal emblems and the like.  The upside down one shown in this picture was featured in The Catalogue for the exquisitely detailed Elks emblem on the cap:

My fear has always been that I’ll go through the collection some day, culling out duplicates, and I might accidentally cull out one of these special caps into a junk box or worse, into a bargain box on a table at my next show.  In order to avoid this, facing one of these pencils upside down means “look at the cap, dummy.”

This one also went into the drawer upside down:

It has a name engraved on the barrel: L.W. Hirtz:

The imprint near the top identifies this one to late 1916 or early 1917: “Ever Sharp” (two words) with no mention of Wahl, but with the Wahl patented clip:

And, for the reason that has this one upside down in my drawer:

A fantasticly detailed scene of a globe being circled by trucks and even a horse-drawn wagon, underneath which is the caption, “Trans-Continental Freight Co.”

The home office for The Trans-Continental Freight Co., unsurprisingly, was in Chicago where Wahl was also located.  According to a listing in the 1922 American Exporter Trade Directory, the company was founded in 1898 and was located at 203 South Dearborn Street.

Here’s an advertisement the company ran in the October, 1918 issue of The Rotarian, featuring the same logo found on the pencil:

I haven’t found any connection between the Trans-Continental Freight Co. and anyone named “L.W. Hirtz,” but the company had numerous branch offices across the country, making it difficult to narrow any search.  Besides, over the last 100 years the cap might have been switched to a pencil other than the one to which it was originally attached.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Doran Deliance Update

I’ve written about the Doran Deliance recently, at  I still don’t have any more information about the Dorans of Providence, Rhode Island, but I have since found a couple other examples which fill in some gaps:

Both of these share the same, difficult-to-photograph imprint found on the other two examples which have turned up:

“Doran Deliance Providence RI Pat Pend.”  The fact that none have surfaced with a “Patented” imprint is a good indication that these were extinct by the time the Dorans’ patent was granted in 1925.  So now we know they also came in ringtops.  Also, note that terrific clip on the other example?  That explains the slits in the barrel of the first example of these I found:

So here’s an updated family picture . . .

Monday, July 17, 2017

The DeWitt-LaFrance Freak

Yes, I’m rabid for all things DeWitt-LaFrance.  That’s the only reason I caught this one:

The online auction included some two dozen pencils all in one go, most of which went straight into the junk box.  What caught my attention was that I had searched for auctions containing the word “Superite,” DeWitt-LaFrance’s flagship brand, and this was the only thing that even remotely resembled anything DeWitt-LaFrance might have made.

And it resembled a Superite only very remotely, with that straight top.  I made sure the seller accepted returns before I bid, just in case nothing in the photos was actually marked Superite.  Imagine my glee . . .

“Superite Desk / Pat. Pend.”  I’ve never heard of one, I’ve never seen one catalogued, and I’m always tickled to find something I didn’t know existed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Other Triumph

At the Raleigh Pen Show, I chased a lot of a dozen or so pencils, all because I wanted this one:

I’ve never seen a “Triumph” – at least, not one that wasn’t a Sheaffer, and this bears no indication that it came from Fort Madison:

This one is an interesting mix of higher quality and lower quality elements.  That flourish on the top treatment is reminiscent of something attributed to National Pen Products or Lipic, and the name and styling on that clip are certainly above average.  However . . .

it’s a simple nose drive mechanism, and the top and bottom halves are held together by a rudimentary brass tube - not even a threaded bushing.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Hallmark Mystery - Solved

You’re going to think I did this on purpose.

As of yesterday morning, when “The Hard Proof” ran (see, I admitted that I didn’t have anything concrete enough to say who might have made or produced the Hallmark magazine pencil:

It’s identical to the Hutcheon Magazine Pencil and, with the exception of the clip, with the more numerous Mabie Magazine Pencil:

After I posted about the article on Facebook, my friend David Nishimura commented that I should follow up in my research on the Hallmark hard rubber pens, “which are often found with the imprint altered to ALLMAR.”

David was referring to discussions in various forums starting years ago.  In 2009, “ebrian” on posted this picture (the thread is at of a pair of Hallmark pens, sporting exactly the same logo and a patent date of September 22, 1914:

The patent date refers to number 1,111,469, issued to George Kraker:

The pens were without question made by George Kraker, and in another thread over on (the exact thread is at, Dennis Bowden and others discussed some pen barrels he had found, which had the H and the K deliberately obliterated to leave the word “ALLMAR.”  Speculation ensued, with Dennis theorizing that the Hallmark name was found to be an infringement on the name used by Hallmark Jewelers, and Daniel Kirchheimer offering a sound hyphothesis that after Sheaffer won its lawsuit against Kraker and took over all his remaining stock, the letters were obliterated to distinguish them from earlier pens made by Kraker.

While there may be a bit of truth in both of those lines of thought, I’ve got a better one, and it comes straight from a new resource you don’t have yet:

OK, this is the part where you are going to think I did this on purpose.  By sheer coincidence, my new book, American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953, was shipped from my publisher yesterday – the same day as this article ran.  Yes, when the book came out, I had planned to run a series of articles featuring things I’ve learned in the course of writing the book . . . things that I haven’t been able to find from any other source.

This wasn’t one of them.

I truly was simply remiss in failing to read my own new book before I ran yesterday’s article.  If I had, there I would have found the answer that unlocks the real story of the Hallmark pens made by Kraker and the pencils, made by Mabie Todd or Hutcheon . ..

United States Trademark 113,655 was filed on July 22, 1916 for “fountain pens and the parts thereof,” by United Jewelers, Inc.  The date of first use claimed was July 7, 1916.

United Jewelers, Inc. was an enterprise which started in Chicago to create a network of jewelers, no more than one in each city, which with their combined bargaining strength would be able to coerce suppliers to sell in bulk to them and, in theory, be able to offer higher quality merchandise at a cost savings.

Sounds exactly like the Guild Products Company scam of a few years later, in which stationers attempted to strongarm pen and pencil makers into supplying their house brands or else be excluded from their network, doesn’t it?  (I wrote an article about that a few years ago, which can be found at

The network of jewelers was established and in place long before the trademark was used on “fountain pens and parts thereof,” as this advertisement from 1914 indicates:

With this bit of knowledge, we now know

1.  Now that we have Hallmark pens made by Kraker and pencils made by either Hutcheon or Mabie Todd, both with the same trademark and both spot on consistent with a first use of the mark in July, 1916, it is clear that both were made for United Jewelers, Inc. as part of their house-branding for their network of Hallmark stores.

2.  There was no trademark conflict with Hallmark Jewelers . . . Hallmark Jewelers were one and the same as those affiliated with United Jewelers, Inc., and these products were made for them, not in violation of their trademark.

3.  Hallmark was not a Kraker brand, it was a Kraker contract.  Whoever obliterated the first and last letters to make “ALLMAR” pens, whether it was Kraker, Sheaffer, or someone else, did so because they did not have a contract with United Jewelers, Inc. and wanted to make some use of leftover barrels,

Oh, and by the way . . . this Hallmark logo and the chain of Hallmark Jewelers had nothing to do with the greeting card company.  At the time, they were still known as Hall Brothers – and they didn’t adopt the trade name “Hallmark” until 1928.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Hard Proof

(Note: this is the second part in a two part series.  If you’re lost and need to start at the beginning, see

Here’s a pair of pencils which turned up at the Chicago Show in May.

Before I show you what’s stamped on them, here they are compared to a ringtop pencil I’ve had in my collection for awhile:

All three pencils are stamped on the nose.  The one I’ve had looks like this:

“Mabie Magazine Pencil / Pat. June 7, 10.”  Mabie Magazine pencils are a fairly common sight, and they came in a broad range of materials and patterns.  It wasn’t really fair to show you a ringtop, which are unusual, since they are easy to spot in the side clip version with their patented January 19, 1915 Mabie Todd clips:

The June 7, 1910 patent date refers to patent number 960,588, which Egon L. Schmitz applied for on December 21, 1908 and which was assigned to . . . get ready for your daily dose of randomness . . . to the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company:

Now getting back to these two pencils that came my way in Chicago, you might have noticed that instead of a Mabie Todd patent clip, each sports a very Hutcheon-like clip.  With respect to the gold filled one, it is stamped as you would expect:

“Hutcheon Magazine Pencil / Pat. June 7, 1910.”

It also has the diamond-shaped Hutcheon trademark:

And what of that sterling example?  That one is a little more complicated:

“Sterling / Hallmark / Pat. May 31 & June 7, 1910"

Huh.  The clip looks Hutcheon, the June 7 patent date is a Faber patent shared by Mabie Todd and Hutcheon, but what’s up with that additional patent reference of May 31, 1910?

It refers to patent number 959,531, for a pencil nearly identical to the Schmitz patent, applied for six months later, on June 1, 1909, yet issued a week before the Schmitz patent.  The inventor was John A. Hollenberger of Hagerstown, Maryland.

I don’t have anything concrete yet concerning who might have made or produced the Hallmark magazine pencil.  “Hallmark” might well be a play on Hollenberger’s name, although “Hutcheon Hallmark” has a nice ring to it as well, and with the same clip there’s a strong suggestion that Hutcheon had something to do with it.

And the presence of nearly identical Mabie and Hutcheon Magazine pencils, both made under license from the same Eberhard Faber patent, does prove that Alfred Hutcheon’s relationship with Mabie Todd after 1913 was far more than just that of a former employee.

Update:  the Hallmark mystery is solved -- see