Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Interesting Gregg Update

The “Gregg” is illustrated on page 84 of The Catalogue:


The pencil, as I noted in the book, was made by Wahl Eversharp; it’s a clipless Equipoised in hard rubber.  Nowhere is there an Eversharp imprint.  The only marking is the Gregg logo, which is why I listed this one separately as opposed to alongside the other Eversharps (the book is designed to help those who have a pencil in hand and want to look up what it says).

I can now tell you quite a bit more, thanks to a nifty new book I’ve just published, American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953:


Unfortunately, the United States Trademark Office did not preserve all expired registrations for posterity, so the original certificate for trademark number 297,917 is, for the time being, lost.   This image was retrieved working backwards from information I found in a subject matter index from Trade-marks Issued from the United States Patent Office.

Starting from the index, I knew a serial number and a publication date, so I was able to thumb (that’s electronically thumb, since the physical books from my old haunts are long gone) through the relevant date of the Official Gazette.

From the indexed information combined with the publication in the Gazette, we know that the Gregg trademark was first claimed to be used on March 1, 1928, although the Gregg Publishing Company didn’t get around to seeking trademark protection for the mark until 1932.

And 1928 is an interesting time in Wahl’s history . . . the company was just letting go of Keeran’s metal pencil design, which with minor improvements in 1924, had been in use since 1913.  The company had just begun introducing pens and pencils in hard rubber and celluloid.  After the meteoric success of the Sheaffer Balance, in 1929 Wahl formally introduced the “Equipoised” line of pens and pencils.  Here’s a page from the 1929 catalog, from the Pen Collectors of America’s online library:


Yeah, I despise the PCA watermark, too.  It was added after someone uploaded the entire contents of the PCA’s library to archive.org, and the PCA was trying to protect what it had compiled over the years . . . but at this point . . . well, the cow’s out of the barn now, and I don’t think it’s doing anything other than annoy people.  I digress . . .

This is the model that got Wahl into trouble with Sheaffer, and according to Court papers, filed in the Sheaffer v. Worth litigation (Daniel Kirchheimer wrote an excellent article about this for The Pennant recently), the shape was quickly abandoned by Wahl after warnings from Sheaffer’s lawyers to cease and desist infringement of Sheaffers design patents on its Balance line.

For our purposes right now, what’s really interesting about this page, and what I want you to notice, are the model numbers: 4010TC, 4005TC, 4004TC and 4012TC.  The ringtop versions are cataloged on a different page, with a TW suffix, and pens start with numbers beginning with 64 (6410TC or TW, etc.).

Not too long ago, this one surfaced in an online auction, complete with box and papers:



The pencil carefully wrapped inside the instruction sheet is clearly from the same line as the 1929 Wahl Equipoised line:


It appears to have a full length lower barrel from the side clip line, paired with a shorter, ringtop-sized cap . . . but without the ringtop, and in hard rubber:


The only markings on the pencil itself are the same as the example I showed you in The Catalogue:


I didn’t color that in – the imprint appears to have been colored at the factory.  And then there’s that price sticker . . .


Now Eversharp price bands just slip off . . . I never put too much stock in a “stickered” pencil like this because you can slide any old thing on there and call it minty, and who’s going to know?

I would.  And in this case, I know that’s not what happened.  A Wahl Eversharp model number of “4007SP”?  It fits perfectly in a family of 1929 Equipoised pencils bearing model numbers of 4004, 4005, 4010 and 4012 . . . and if the “SP” means “Special,” that also makes perfect sense.

What gives me pause right now is wondering whether I should have listed Gregg separately, now that I believe these were actually a Wahl Eversharp model marketed with the Gregg logo.

And I’m wondering what 4006, 4008, 4009 and 4011 meant.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Manjeco

Since I’m a sucker for a name of which I’ve never heard, this sad little pencil proved irresistable:


The name it sports in an oval near the top is “Manjeco”:


You might think I’m about to offer you a revelation about this pencil from my new trademark book, but “Manjeco” isn’t in there for two reasons: first, when the application was filed, it was filed in the general jewelry category (28), not the paper and stationary category in which writing instrument trademarks are filed:


Trademark application serial number 146,382 tells us that “Manjeco” is a contraction of Manufacturing Jewelers Export Company, Inc. of New York, New York.  Note that the mark is claimed for use on a wide variety of jewelry and other metal items . . . but not writing instruments.  The applicant claimed to have first used the mark on February 1, 1921, which is about right for this pencil.

The other reason you won’t find the Manjeco trademark in American Writing Instrument Trademarks 1870-1953 is because as odd as it seems, it appears that registration of the mark was never granted by the patent office.  Typically, this would be due to an objection filed by someone who claimed injury by allowing registration, or if the Patent Office Commissioner determined on his or her own that the mark was not entitled to registration.  The reason I think that is odd is because an internet search for “Manjeco” led me straight to the publication of the mark in the Official Gazette and not to anything else or anything similar, which would suggest to me that the mark is unique enough not to be confused with anything else.

However, a search of the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents did turn up another mark applied for by the Manufacturing Jewelers Export Company, Inc. which did provide a bit more information about the company:


On September 11, 1923, the company was granted registration number 172,590 for the “Barrycraft” trademark, also for jewelry.  The registration certificate indicates that George C. Hill was the Treasurer of the company, which was located at 54 Dey Street, New York.

A 1921 Bulletin of the Merchants’ Association of New York listed the company at 64 Maiden Lane, New York.  One other source, an online auction which appears to have shamelessly copied something from somewhere, states that Barton Allan Ballou and/or his son Frederick, who ran B.A. Ballou & Co. of Providence, Rhode Island, might have been instrumental in the company (one or both were apparently officers of the “Manufacturing Jewelers’ Board of Trade” as well as the “Manufacturing Jewelers’ Association.”

As for who made the Manjeco pencil, it was most certainly not the Manufacturing Jewelers Export Co.  There is a clue imprinted near the business end which might provide the answer:


“Pat. Pend.”  The nose cone on this one turns, but comes to a dead stop in either direction – maybe it’s a leadholder like the Mabie Todd/Hutcheon/Hallmark leadholders I wrote about recently (see “The Hard Proof” at http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-hard-proof.html) . . .  and maybe it’s just all jammed up.  As with so many of these pencils, this one wasn’t meant to be taken apart after it was assembled, so maybe someday I’ll get it working, maybe not.  If I get it working, maybe I’ll be able to narrow down what’s going on inside and find a patent which was pending in the early twenties which fits the story . . .

Maybe not.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I Take It All Back

I haven’t said very nice things about the successors to the Camel Pen Company: the Newark Pen Company, Secretary Pen Company and Union Pen Company all produced cheesy metal advertising pencils with “floaty” sections in the middle -- which, don’t get me wrong, I love just as much – but which just lack the . . . dignity of an early Camel piece.

Even Marc Shiman, a devotee of all these related brands, commented unfavorably on Camel’s devolution into oblivion, once commenting that “Newark Pen Company made awful injection molded fountain pens which they branded Secretary.”

However, there is an earlier chapter in the Camel history . . . Secretary Pen Company was not only the successor to Camel, it also preceded it, with the company’s owner, Joseph V. Wustman (sometimes spelled Wuestman), founding the concern around 1925.  Shiman suggests that Wustman merged Newark and Camel.

This piece would date to before that merger:


This Eversharp-looking pencil caught my eye a while ago.  That rib up near the cap always has me looking closer to see if there are clues to tie them in to similar pencils marked Ever-Rite, Bonnwear and Keene (see, respectively, http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-evidence-continues-to-build.html, http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2014/10/wear-it-well.html and http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-couple-keene-bits-of-new-information.html).

On closer examination, this one has a really, really nice imprint:


This pencil is more like the Keene, lacking the Sheafferesque pull-out eraser.   At least now I won’t shudder when I hear “Newark Pen Company” and “metal pencil” in the same sentence.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Mauser Manufacturing Company

This one floated around in an online auction for several months.  It took me some time to buy it, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what it was:


The barrel has a large imprint on one side of the extender for “Geo. Borgfeldt & Co.” with a date of February 22nd, 1906:


Borgfeldt was a general importer and merchant in New York City who specialized in toys, dolls, china and glassware, hardly the sort of concern you’d expect to make a pencil and exactly the sort to have them made by someone else.  By whom appears to be stamped on the other side of the extender:


“The Mauser Mfg. Co.”  Since Borgfeldt was an importing firm, my first thought was that the pencil might also come from abroad, leading me briefly to consider whether the firearms manufacturer in Germany also had a penchant for turning out pencils.  This pencil appears to be thoroughly American however, and The Mauser Manufacturing Company which produced Borgfeldt’s pencil was much closer to home – in Borgfeldt’s back yard, in fact.

The Mauser Manufacturing Company is an American concern, and a well known one at that.  The only reason I was not familiar with the name is because Mauser’s fame arose in connection with general silversmithing and not specifically with writing instruments.  There is quite a bit of material out there in the silver collecting community regarding Mauser, and plenty of primary source material as well, but even contemporaneous accounts of the firm’s activities are inconsistent and at times conflicting.  What follows is the best account I can piece together.

The firm owes its name to Frank Mauser, who established a silversmith firm in North Attleboro (some sources say Andover), Massachusetts sometime around 1887.  In 1890, Frank Mauser & Co. relocated to New York City where, in 1893, the firm was reorganized as The Mauser Manufacturing Company.

Some sources identify Mauser Mfg. Co. as the “successor to” Frank Mauser & Co., while others indicate it was Frank Mauser’s old company merely using a new name.  I believe the former version is the more accurate one.

The year 1893 was a terrible time to be in the silver business.  Over the preceding few years, the “Free Silver” movement sought to stimulate the economy, which was stagnating due to the Federal Government’s waning gold reserves, by lobbying for the recognition of silver as currency without it being converted into coinage through a centralized Federal mint.  The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 required the Federal Government to buy up huge amounts of silver to create a reserve for the redemption of silver certificates, which from one point of view depleted the supply and drove up the price of silver dramatically.  Another, more likely interpretation is that western mines had been overproducing silver for years and the Sherman Act was passed to appease mining interests by artificially supporting the price of silver.

When there was a downturn in May, 1893, it was a cataclysmic correction with more than 500 bank failures and unemployment which topped 35 percent in New York City.  What is certain is that on October 11, 1893, The Jewelers’ Circular reported that Frank Mauser had resigned as superintendent of the Mauser Manufacturing Company and had “severed his connection” with the firm that bore his name:


The front man for Mauser Manufacturing after Frank’s departure was Max Ams.  Ams died on September 5, 1908, and his obituary states that “fourteen years ago he organized and became president of the Mauser Manufacturing Company.”


The year, which would have been 1894 according to Ams’ obituary, appears to be a year off.  Since Ams was engaged in several other businesses, including the Riverside Bank and the Max Ams Fish and Beef Company, it appears that he was a general businessman who saw an opportunity to snap up a failing silver operation while the price was low – it is unsurprising against that historical backdrop that within a very short time the company’s namesake was gone.

The “Free Silver” movement reared its head again for the 1896 Presidential campaign between the Democratic proponent William Jennings Bryan and Republican opponent William McKinley. “The Mauser Manufacturing Company employs 200 silversmiths in its factory, the majority of whom are Democrats,” reported the Harrisburg Telegraph on August 29, 1896, “but the present silver agitation has resulted in an open denunciation of the Chicago platform, and they have resolved to present a cup to the head of the Republican ticket.

“Contributions were willingly given, and many of the men worked over-time in making the cup.  It stands on an onyx pedestal, and is twenty-four inches in height.  Inscribed on one of the sides is the sentiment: ‘We believe in silver when redeemable in gold.’” A picture of the cup appeared in the New York Times on the 29th:


Beginning in 1897, Mauser’s advertisements included a unicorn trademark;


It doesn’t appear that the mark was ever registered in the United States Patent Office; at least, a word search in The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents makes no mention of a Mauser trademark being filed between 1889 and 1900.

Abigail Barnes Nova wrote a thesis titled Whiting Manufacturing Company: A History of the Firm and its Japanese-Inspired Silver (1860-1890).  The paper only tangentially involves Frank Mauser and the Mauser Manufacturing Company, but in a footnote on page 126, she states that the Mauser Manufacturing Company merged with the Hayes & McFarland Company of Mount Vernon, New York and the Robert Williams Silver Company of Providence, Rhode Island to become the Mt. Vernon Company Silversmiths, which was acquired by Gorham in 1913.  Since the Mauser Manufacturing Company continued to trade under the Mauser name, and at the same address until well after 1903, I think it is more likely that this was another Max Ams business investment, which might have supplied Mauser with some or all of its product

Mauser was a prolific advertiser in the New York press, usually running announcements for specific products in a small, square advertisement: silver photo frames, silver deposit ware, “smart silver for smart weddings,” bon bon dishes,  and“silver fancies for June weddings,” to name a few.  In an advertisement from November 26, 1899 the company advertised “silver writing sets”:


On November 29, 1901, the company advertised pencils and penholders:


On April 2, 1904, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Mauser had moved from 15th Street to expensive new accommodations on Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 31st Street:


By December, 1905, when this advertisement ran in the New York Tribune, Mauser was holding itself out as as goldsmith firm as well, including among its jewelry offerings 14k pencils:


Things went sideways for Mauser in 1908.  On February 19, 1908, the Wall Street Journal published a report that the company’s manufacturing plant in Mount Vernon had closed indefinitely, “owing to lack of orders.”


Frank Mauser died suddenly on April 10, 1908.  His obituary reports that he was the superintendent at the Whiting Manufacturing Company - and contrary to Max Ams’ obituary, it also claims that he was the founder of Mauser Manufacturing Company:


Max Ams, passed away on September 5, 1908, and his obituary (reprinted above) reported that he had taken ill “about six months” earlier, in the spring of 1908.  On May 3, 1908, Mauser Manufacturing announced in the New York Tribune that surplus stock was being sold at cost; by this time, the company had ceased all other advertising, and this was the first time Mauser’s goods were advertised at a discount.


It appears that Mauser’s decline after 1908 was a slow one, and the company closed sometime between this 1908 announcement and the end of 1911.  On January 22, 1912, this auction notice ran in the New York Times for the sale that day of the “magnificent and elaborate store fixtures . . . of the large retail establishment, formerly the Mauser Mfg. Co.”:


The remaining stock of jewelry and other product, though, was sold separately.  On February 12, 1912, Gimbel’s Department Store took out a full page advertisement in The New York Times, to announce that “Tomorrow We Begin the Disposal of the Whole Retail Stock of the MAUSER MANUFACTURING COMPANY”:


“Thousands of travelers daily on the New Haven Railroad see the fine factory buildings of the Mauser Mfg. Co. when passing through Mount Vernon,” the notice states, “but the Mauser Company found running a retail store an expensive business, and decided to discontinue it, though still continuing to operate their factory.  So they sold their whole stock of their Fifth Avenue Store to Messrs. C. Wolfson & Co., who, after operating it for several months, in turn disposed of the stock to us, so as to rid themselves of the obligation of their lease.”

The announcement includes a congratulatory letter from C. Wolfson & Co., “formerly known as The Mauser Mfg. Co.,” dated January 12, 1912:


The Gimbels’ notice appears to support the interpretation that the Mt. Vernon Company Silversmiths, sold to Gorham in 1913, was a separate concern created to supply Mauser Manufacturing’s retail operation, and possibly others as well.  What is clear is that when Gimbels opened its doors on February 13, 1912, gone were the last remnants of what had been the Mauser Manufacturing Company.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Model, A Color, Or What?

An online auction yeilded this little gem:


I couldn’t pass it up, not only because of that outrageous color, but because you hardly ever see old Moores with their price stickers intact . . . and this particular sticker raises an interesting question:


“Moore Bronzecraft.”   The name seems to be a good description for the color, or maybe it was Moore’s name for model 97.  I’ve searched around and come up empty on this one.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Wesco

Here’s one I rediscovered while I was getting things organized around the museum a few weeks ago:


It’s more than a little rough, and there was a cap that has gone missing, but I picked it up because of a fantastic imprint:


“Wesco” in a very fancy script.  I haven’t been able to track down any information about this one.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Bit of This and That

This one popped out of someone’s junk box at the Raleigh Pen Show:


I was interested in it, warts and all, because it blends elements from two other Eversharps I’ve written about here:


The upper example is a “Wahl Spring Brake” advertising pencil, from Wahl’s bizarre foray into the auto parts business in the late 1920s (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/10/wahls-extracurricular-activities.html for the story and http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/12/wahls-car-parts-business.html for this pencil).  The lower one, while a little beat up, is I think a very unusual oversized metal pencil with a tombstone Wahl clip rather than a z-clip (see http://leadheadpencils.blogspot.com/2016/11/junk-box-nirvana.html for how I put that one back together).  This new find blends the two, with an advertisement for the Wahl Spring Brake on a pencil with that same oversized Wahl clip:


The paint is intact, but once again, the clip was missing.


No worries . . . these are easy to disassemble, by simply unscrewing the tip, to reveal the bushing that was supposed to hold the clip in place:


I’ve got another one of those common utility pencils on hand . . .


I don’t know whether this pencil would have had that flared cap or a straight utility top like this one,but for now I decided to go with the straight top.  I was going to just swap the cap over, but since the mechanism on my junk box find was a little scruffy, I ended up transplanting the whole innards.


Wrapping a rubber band around the top made it easy to pull off the retaining ring and round up a nice clip:


What the heck . . . the tip was nice and shiny too, so I’ll use that . . .


And there you have it.  Two versions of the Eversharp advertising pencil for Wahl Spring Brakes: