Thursday, August 13, 2009

Palmax Pencil-Knife

Here’s a recent acquisition, an oldie but a goodie. The body is plastic with wood grain colouration, the whole thing being about 12.5cm long, 2cm wide and 1cm thick. Palmax pencil knifeI envisage that the target market for this was the gentleman-gamer from the first half of the 20th century.

As well as the pencil tip it features:-

Pen-knife blade, about 4cm long. Nail file and cleaner tip, about 4cm long Entertainment, each about a 1/2cm cube. pencil dice in body
pencil dice in playThere are no markings anywhere except on the base of the pen-knife blade. On one side is “Made in Germany” and on the other is “Palmax, D.R.G.M., Solingen”. So we know it was made in Solingen, the heart of the German knife and cutlery industry. I believe Palmax is the brand, and apparently DRGM stands for "Deutsches Reichsgebrauchsmuster" which means "Utility patent of the 'Deutsches Reich'" and was a German patent and business protection mark from 1891 to WWII.

The pencil is a twist tip screw mechanism as you would expect. As is so often the case with vintage pencils I couldn’t load a new lead because an old one was snapped off inside the lead gripper. So, out with the maintenance kit – torch, magnifier, pin and 1mm drill.equipment to clear out jammed pencil lead gripperPencil lead removed from lead gripper Luckily pencil lead isn’t that tough so you can usually easily chip away at and dig out the old stuck piece of lead with a pin or needle. The 1mm drill comes in handy if you have to go digging deep as you can usually drill and crumble the lead out from way inside the mechanism. In the photo you can see a decent chunk of old lead that I dug out of the gripper. I initially assumed this would be a 1.18mm pencil, but a I had a stick of 1.4mm lead handy and it fitted fine. It only takes short lengths of lead.

All that graphite powder over my desk. Some people really are slow learners.

Now the other interesting thing about this pencil-knife is the little glass tube in the centre of the body. Palmax glass tubePalmax tube close upAt first I thought, hey, wow, some sort of lift out Stanhope lens? Lift it out, stick it right up to your eye and be rewarded with an entertaining scene from yesteryear. Given the gentleman gambler theme, I imagined that the scene would probably be of the “bathing beauty” or “actress in dressing chamber” type as opposed to “idyllic rural countryside”. But alas, the glass tube appears permanently fixed, doesn’t appear to be a lens and I’ve got no idea what it is. It’s hollow, and down one end there are a few little bits that might be residual dried up liquid. A spirit level? Some sort of hourglass timer thing? I am completely flummoxed.

9 comments:

Henrik said...

well, I'm too lazy to look up what flummoxed really means, but don't be... it is probably a Stanhope lens only the picture is missing. A search for Palamx revealed a blog dedicated to these and your item was depicted. It says:
".. some well over 100 years old, it is not too surprising that some are lost. The knives meant to be used are often found empty or pictureless."
A really nice specimen BTW. Thanks for sharing.
regards
Henrik

Germ said...

weird.....

Andrew said...

That's a pretty cool pen. I've seen tons of multifunction pens like bottle opener pens and USB pens, but never a knife pen. That would definitely be a cool pen to have around for a camping trip.

June said...

I just told my husband about your collection and the first thing he said was, "I had one that had a spirit level in it!" He also says his pencils were always jamming; he liked the IDEA, but they never worked as well as he thought they should. He was born in 1930.

2nd_astronaut said...

Maybe a dried-out water-level?

2nd_astronaut said...

forget my last comment;-) I learned that a spirit level is a water-level (I am no native speaker)...

Wynne and Wes said...

that is one scary looking pencil, definently mcfranken quality. looks much like the much newer victorianex pocket knife pens, to bad thos dont come in a mp varient

kiwi-d said...

Henrik - I've checked said blogs and the knife pictured does appear to be the same apart from the lens arrangement, so I'm still thinking it's not a Stanhope, but...

June - Thanks very much for your husbands comment. At the moment my money is still on it being a dried out level. But what for? Maybe foe ensuring your table was level for throwing dice? But I dice don't really care if the table is on a bit of a lean?

LauraJ said...

I also think a level, with which one might like to check one's roulette table.

***baby dice....****