Friday, November 14, 2008

Atlas Leads

Sometimes I wonder if collecting mechanical pencils is really just a front to hide my true obsession – lead refills.

Nah, just kidding. Well...maybe.
Anyway, here’s some old Atlas leads I recently acquired. Brand new old stock still in their original boxes. The leads are ‘super fine’ size, that’s 1.18mm diameter, which isn’t exactly super fine by today’s 0.3 and 0.2mm standards. There are 12 sticks per tube. The tubes are glass with black plastic stoppers.

These days virtually all common thinner diameter lead refills are 60mm (about 2 and 3/8th inches) long, but you can also find 75mm and some other sizes. Things weren’t so voluntarily standardised in the old days, when there was quite a selection of lead lengths. My two boxes are two of the common older lengths. The long ones are 100mm (4 in.) long, and the short ones are 32mm (1 and ¼ in.) long.

I like the idea of how the box for the long tubes has had its cardboard base cut and flaps folded in to act as dividers and protectors for the tubes. You can see the flaps between the tubes in the photo below.“Atlas”, The Best Quality Refill Leads, Made In England.
My guess is that these leads are from the 1950’s - 60’s. There is a price marked on one box in pre-decimal currency. NZ changed from pounds to dollars in 1967 so it seems safe to assume the leads predate that. I have a gut feel that the plastic stoppers imply post World War II.