Thursday, February 05, 2009

NSC Pencil

I recently won this vintage pencil at auction, and it has turned out to be a little bit of a surprise package. It’s in “average” condition – meaning no major dents, scratches, etc but certainly plenty of minor surface wear and tear, and the pocket clip is loose. I’ve had a couple of goes at polishing it, but some more work is still needed. Tarnish. That’s one aspect of silver pencils I don’t like.There is no danger of the pocket clip coming off, it’s just the attachment flange has worked a little loose.It is a screw mechanism pencil – you wind that top knob around to advance or retract the pencil lead. The pencil is solid silver. Hallmarked for London, Sterling Silver, 1946, by the maker JM & Co. With British hallmarks the main part of a multi-part item is fully hallmarked and then other separate component parts are marked with just the metal type/purity stamp – in this case the lion for “sterling silver”. The first surprise for me was the makers mark “JM & Co”. This is the makers mark for Yard-O-Led of similar age. I haven’t been able to find out much about JM & Co. The existence of this pencil implies either YOL also made non-YOL brand pencils or perhaps more likely JM & Co were silversmiths making under contract to YOL, and also did other pencil work.

As you can see below, the pencil has a “With compliments…” inscription. The inscription led me to my second little surprise, learning about this previously unknown committee. A quick bit of net-searching has revealed they were in charge of raising public money to pay for the war effort back in the 1940’s and were quite successful. “Money for guns”. Some of their advertising posters are shown below – in English and Maori. I guess the recipient of the pencil was a worker for the committee, or a big investor.


Anonymous said...

Great Review! Well written and quite descriptive as well.. If any item or topic comes out then you should be the one releasing it to the public and make it known! The way you describe it is very intriguing and feels like candy to my ears, if that really makes any sense :) but you catch my drift.. In one of my classes, we were given a paper with instructions of how to build a swan made of aluminum foil and we had to explain to our group verbally how to construct the swan.. It was difficult! But, manageable and we came second in place, but it was tasky :) Nevertheless if you post anything else up I will most definitely check it out! Great review!

Unknown said...

"I haven’t been able to find out much about JM & Co."
JM & Co. made pencils for Yard-o-led besides those sold under their own name such as the one reviewed. The initials stand for Johnson Matthey who are now one of largest companies worldwide in precious metals and metallurgy and do not make jewellery any more, one supposes. The propelling screw of the pencil reviewed is missing the silver cap.

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks Heifetzlistener. Since I wrote this post I have learned more about JM. Just last week I bought another of these pencils and it had a cap so I immediately remembered this one and realised it was missing its cap.