Thursday, October 19, 2006

Royal Coronation Pencils

As a citizen of the Realm of New Zealand, I am of course, a loyal subject of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Some people think we should redesign our British influenced flag and become a republic, but I think most of us are fairly uninterested in the whole issue. Why bother? She seems like a nice lady, pops over here every once in a while for a cup of tea and a chat, but otherwise leaves us alone. There aren’t any big problems with the current situation, so just leave things as they are, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Her Majesty was crowned 53 years ago, back in 1953, June 2, to be precise. Souvenir sellers made a few extra pounds that year, and the mechanical pencil companies wanted a slice of the action.

This ‘Eversharp’ solid sterling silver mechanical pencil is hallmarked for the London Assay Office, 1953, and also carries the additional special 1953/4 commemorative hallmark for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately the hallmark stamps are too small for my rather basic camera to handle, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

British hallmarks are strictly controlled by the UK government. Up until 1773 the death penalty applied for counterfeiting hallmarks, but it was then changed to 14 years transportation to Australia. Now I’m a Kiwi, but I’m not so biased that I can’t admit that Australia’s a pretty good place too. “Hey, Australia. Nice beaches, cold beer, hot babes, alright – let’s counterfeit some of them hallmark things!” So these days its 10 years in prison, but you don’t get a free trip to Australia as part of the deal.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the following special commemorative hallmarks have been declared:

1934/5 Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary
1953/4 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
1977 Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II
1999/2000 Millennium
2002 Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

I also have this nice little 11cm long coronation pencil by ‘Makri’, who I haven’t otherwise heard of. It has “Coronation, E II R, 1953” printed in a shield on the body. It is in excellent condition. The crown on top is complete with little glass jewels in it. The blue and red stripes are a bit wavy though, not really sure if that is by design or they just couldn’t do any better at the time. You twist the metal tip section to propel the lead.

Here’s a similar pencil, of unknown brand. The top piece on this one is a circular shield standing up with “Coronation, June 2, 1953” on one side and a jewelled crown on the other. If the British press is to be believed then sometime in the future this young lady will be Queen. She will therefore be our first Queen to have walked the catwalk modelling her underwear. But some of those royals from older times were a pretty raunchy lot, so a bit of a lingerie parade is rather tame stuff in comparison. I will be surprised if they have mechanical pencils celebrating her future-husband being crowned King. I’m sure there will be a few coins and other things, but unfortunately I think the day of the souvenir mechanical pencil has been and gone. :(

Of course Her Majesty does have another link to the world of pencildom. The well known pencil company Koh-I-Noor took its name and colour scheme from the famous koh-i-noor diamond, which was once the largest diamond in the world. Her Majesty can wear the koh-i-noor, because it is part of the Crown Jewels, set in the coronation crown of the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

Footnote: The wooden pencil companies wanted some of the action too - see Pigpog for a Coronation Souvenir wooden pencil.


Speedmaster said...

Very interesting post, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just picked up a mechanical pencil marked G VI & E