Monday, August 31, 2009

Swank Mechanical Pencil

Here’s an interesting little mini mechanical pencil. It measures 77mm long, (that’s pretty much smack on 3” for non-metric folk), and the body is 5mm square section. It’s a nice shiny golden colour, but no, it’s not gold.

Now you can use it as a pencil, as is…Swank mechanical pencil
Swank mechanical pencilOr you can pull it out of the body…Swank mechanical pencil pulled apartLooks rather smart with that lined pattern. Quite classy really. I don’t know the correct name for that pattern – perhaps light godron? The eraser is unused but rather old and hardened, and stuck tight in the body. Anyway, the pencil is a tip feed as you would expect from an older 1.18mm screw mechanism mechanical pencil.

Stamped into the body is “SWANK, PAT. PEND.”. That’s the only markings on the pencil.pencil marking So, a quick bit of internet searching, and now I’m just blithely repeating internet information here, so it could well be rubbish, but apparently Swank is a US jewellery company founded in Massachusetts in 1897. Originally they manufactured and distributed men's and women's costume jewellery and during World War I they made dog tags for the US military. After WWI they changed focus to produce only men's jewellery and accessories. They are still going today, and apparently their products are common in US department stores. (OK, don’t leave me hanging here, nip out to your local mall and confirm or deny this.)

Right, so much for that company history and unpaid advertorial. What exactly is my mechanical pencil? A few vintage and antique dealer websites show this pencil and most describe it as a mechanical pencil tie-clip.swank mechanical pencil tie clip

swank mechanical pencil tie clipOthers say it’s a mechanical pencil money-clip.mechanical pencil money clip
Ha! I hope at least some of you appreciate that I had to dig my ties out of storage, and go to the bank especially for those shots - I don’t normally carry any Rutherfords in my wallet. Some unkind people have suggested moths are more likely in my wallet. How rude! The cheek of them! In case you haven’t noticed, most photos in this posting are clickable for hi-res. Yep, revel in the sartorial elegance of those ties.

Now, those sites mentioned above usually state the pencil is marked U.S. PAT. 124227 and some claim known provenance back to the 1940 - 50’s from Granddad. My pencil says “Pat. Pend.” so it presumably predates that. Some sites claim it dates to the early 1900’s. Anyway, however old it is, it’s a nice little novelty pencil and I’m glad to have it.


Penmaniacs said...

ineteresting pencil,very cool looking BIG clip

Anonymous said...

Cool blog.

The pencil is circa 1940, was invented by Lawrence E. Baer, and was described as a combined tie clip and pencil. The patent number refers to a US (ornamental) design patent:


Kiwi-d said...

MB - Thanks very much for the link.

Anonymous said...

I have one of those from when I was a kid in the 1960s-70s - not sure how it was aquired, it might be older than that. I always used it as a tie clip. I was kind of a nerd.

Anonymous said...

What's the lead dia?
I am actually looking to buy one on ebay (this blog is me totally) and am wondering if I could refill the lead if needed.
great info and btw your mini pencil review needs an inclusion from the best mini pencil around G-2 mini mechanical pencils (available widely in the US-amazon/staples)
I prefer these to the pentel brand as G2 has a retractable tip to save the fragile plastic end.

Unknown said...

What kind of lead does it take (refillable from current sources or no)?
I'm looking at a few sites now to maybe purchase one and have it retouched in proper gold plating/platinum
I think it's great you have this blog & will be checking it out more often as I've been stationary obsessed since a kid as well..esp mech pencils.
Btw your mini pencil reviews were lacking a major player: G-2 mini mechanicals with retractable nib to save pencil/clothes. I love them and find like you, that 0.7mm suits them better.
They are available in the US online : Staples /Amazon.


Kiwi-d said...

Lead is 1.18mm as noted in the posting.

Anonymous said...

Lawrence Baer was my grandfather. :)

Xavier_Ninnis said...

Wow, I googled "Swank Patent 124227" and there you were.
I was recently assisting an elderly relative in getting her home in shape for putting it on the market, and found one these still in its original gift box.
She recalled that it had been a gift to her late husband but had no memory of when, or from whom, he'd received it.

stine said...

Swank made "ID bracelets" for guys when I was in high school - costume jewelry.

Anonymous said...

I have one with a patent number, can anyone tell me how to put new lead in and what size??
thank you