Friday, July 16, 2010

6 Yard-O-Led Pencils

I’m slowly working my way to the whole nine yards. I’m at six, two thirds of the way.

Ahhh, the glory of Yard-O-Led.
six yard-o-led pencils

From top to bottom
‘Deco 34’, hallmarked Birmingham 2001 sterling silver, maker YOL.
‘Diplomat’, hallmarked London 1948 sterling silver, maker JM&Co.
‘Diplomat’, hallmarked London 1948 sterling silver, maker JM&Co.
‘Diplomat’, rolled gold, and thus not hallmarked.
‘Recorder’, hallmarked London 1953 sterling silver, maker JM&Co.
‘Yard-O-Lette’, hallmarked London 1958 sterling silver, maker JM&Co.

Now then, something for the ladies. 'Yardolette' pictured with big brother 'Diplomat'.
yard-o-lette pencil
The Yard-O-Ledettes?

Purchased at auction as second-hand, this one once belonged to Marianne Looft, whom I know nothing about.
yard-o-lette engraved

Clearly she must have been a lady of certain style back in the 60's and 70's.
yard-o-lette pencil 60's style

Sterling silver isn’t actually all that hard or scratch resistant so many Yard-O-Leds that have been used as everyday pencils have accumulated their fair share of dents and scratches over the decades. In particular I find that many sterling silver pencils seem to have been dropped and if the tip gets dented in a fraction then the lead will no longer feed properly. So, eventually the pencil gets passed along to new owners, who without the long lost instruction sheet have no idea how to refill the lead, and it’s not feeding properly anyway, and, well many of them seem to start getting…..creative.
yard-o-led diplomat pencil tip

A previous owner clearly decided unscrewing the tip section was the way to refill this 'Diplomat'. They gave it a good old winding round with pliers or something.
yard-o-led pencil damaged tip

The real problem was that the lead hole in the tip had been dented in, out of round, so the 1.18mm lead wouldn’t feed through. A little gentle persuasion with rod and reamer soon had things rounded out and good to go. Pity about the scratched up tip, although it’s not all that noticeable in real life.

Getting a pencil complete with YOL instruction sheet can be a surprise.
yard-o-led pencil refill instructions

Sorry my photography’s not really up to the job, but this shot is an attempt to show the various different decoration patterns.
yard-o-led decoration patterns

Six down, three to go. Taking my time…they ain’t cheap. And there’s all that polishing.


Dwscamel said...

I didn't realize you had six of them! Geeze, aren't they around $200-300 each? The Yard-O-Leds must be the most expensive in your collection, although the CdA Ivanhoe also seems "stratospheric." For some reason though, only the Deco 34's finish appeals to me, and the 1.18 mm lead puts me off having one as an everyday writer . . . oh well.

Good luck getting the others.

Kiwi-d said...

New, yes they are that sort of price range, or more :-)
However only 1 of mine is new (the Deco 34). The others are all second hand, although several are in "as new" condition, but one (the Diplomat with the scratched tip) is in "average used" condition.
Second hand "as new" you would struggle to know wasn't brand new if you weren't told, and they sell for 50 - 75% less than brand new. A real bargain.

Grace said...

I love the last pic. They are all so unique!

2nd_astronaut said...

I have a golden Deco 34 (from an auction), but unfortunately its condition was worse than I thought. Worst of all, in the mechanism part no 5 (in the manual photo in this entry) is missing. Now I am looking for YOL spare parts... Any hints welcome.

Stephen said...

I think there is a market for someone with the ability to repair these and other older mechanical pencils. There are a few fountain pen repair people out there, but I haven't heard of a pencil specialist.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see pencils like this the image of Clifton Webb playing the part of Richard Sturges in "Titanic" comes to mind. Remember the scenes of them playing bridge in the smoking room? I imagine all the gentlement back then kept pencils like these in their vest pockets for jotting little notes on score cards, and little notes on visiting cards that got tucked into lavish bouquets of flowers sent backstage to chorus girls... or boys.

I was born WAY too late.


Anonymous said...

Marianne Looft seems to have been, or is, Danish. Google brought up a book that seems to deal with medical sciences from a holistic standpoint. Wonder if she's still alive? Maybe there's a reward for her pencil! Maybe she forgot about it and left it on the card table aboard the old S.S. Aorangi or some similar ship while she was visiting New Zealand! Maybe her neighbor at cards was drunk and confided in her the location of the Bank Of Singapore's gold reserves, hidden from the Japanese in 1942! Maybe THIS IS THE VERY PENCIL he used to draw the treasure map!!!!

Or then, maybe I'm just crazy. But I have fun being like this and my friends laugh a lot, and after all there's a lot to be said for that.


Kiwi-d said...

YOL might be sterling silver but they are a goldmine for your imagination :-)

Henrik said...

@ Stephen. I think some of the fountain pen repairmen on the net also do old pencils. Richard Binder and Greg Minuskin come to mind.
Also, I’m sure that YOL still repair their old pencils – at a price of course.

Anonymous said...

What would a good pencil be, for highlighting documents, proof reading and not too much general writing?

I have a ridiculously cheap offer on an unused YOL. I'm used to 0.7mm which is perfect for me, would the 1.18mm 'B' lead be too blunt for writing?

I also have the option to get myself a Lamy2000, one that I've been wanting for a while.

Stefan said...

Yard O Led comes with a "Lifetime Warranty" and Filofax deal with all the claims it might be worthwhile finding out if the non working ones can be repaired FOC.


i have one im looking to offload if you like.It has a London Hallmark with the date letter i in italic.Just let me know my friend.All the best to you.Danyal Reid.

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks for the offer Danny, but not at the moment.

sheepstroker said...

Thanks for such an interesting site, I bought my girlfriend a matching pen and pencil last year(barley and both new) she gets compliments all the time about them both. I found this site by chance, brilliant.