Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wyvern Mechanical Pencils


I’ve always been a fan of the vampire genre (‘cept never seen nor read any Twilight) and recently there’s been a big surge in popularity of vampires, zombies and other such mythical and mystical horror things. It all got me thinking about links between such mythical beings and pencils. Pretty much the first thing that popped into my mind was Wyvern.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with dragons, a Wyvern is a dragon-headed winged reptilian sort of creature, and is a fairly common symbol in mediaeval heraldry. I have two Wyvern brand mechanical pencils. I have actually attempted to do something more than just a quick Google search to find out about the history of Wyvern pens, and I even found a book in the library that mentioned them, but I still don’t really know much. In a nutshell though, Wyvern dates back to the mid 1890’s in Leicester. They originally manufactured eye dropper pens and also sold pens made by others. The coat of arms of the City of Leicester includes a Wyvern, hence the brand name. By the 1920’s they were also manufacturing gold nibs for other pen manufacturers and in the early 1930’s they began manufacturing mechanical pencils after recruiting a mechanical pencil expert from Germany. I don’t know what went wrong later, but manufacturing ceased in the mid 1950’s.

So, I’ve got a Wyvern pen case. ‘Made in England’, it’s plastic with cream lid and black base. Kind of like a little mini art deco coffin.
wyvern pencil case

Inside are my two Wyvern mechanical pencils. I bought them separately, sans fountain pen.
2 wyvern mechanical pencils

The rather large company logo of a wyvern, and the words ‘WYVERN’ and ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ are impressed into the bodies. Additionally, the black and gold pencil has ‘707’ between ‘WYVERN’ and ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ so I assume that is its model number which I believe dates it c1950’s.
wyvern company logo on pencil body
Of these mythical creatures, I personally prefer the short blue one.
two wyvern mechanical pencils

Unlike the 707, the blue one also has the Wyvern logo on the metal pocket clip.
wyvern logo

wyvern logo close-up

Both are screw mechanism tip feeders using 1.18mm lead. I quite like the look created by the dark blue striations down towards the tip.
wyvern mechanical pencil tip

The quality of the metal pocket clip on the 707 and its method of attachment to the body seem rather questionable to me.
wyvern 707 mechanical pencil pocket clip

Apparently many Wyvern fountain pens were of very high quality. From my two examples I’m not sure you could say the same about their pencils, although I’d guess that they are both from late in Wyverns history so perhaps economic circumstances had lowered the quality by then. Still, irrespective of that I’m glad to have a couple of Wyverns in the collection.


Dwscamel said...

They're both pretty good-looking. The one comment in this article that made me sort of wonder, is Wyvern recruiting a "mechanical pencil expert from Germany." Surely a company that manufactures fountain pens should know a little something about mechanical pencils as well - especially when the internal mechanism of a pencil is so much simpler? I don't doubt the authenticity of the comment, it just struck me as funny.

Julie said...

Thumbs up to the case. It would have been awesome if it was carved out of bone, and I guess quite appropriate? I do wonder what their fountain pens were like as well.

Anonymous said...

the last picture is delicious and the Wyvern perfectly arranged. Even the light seems to be the same..


Kiwi-d said...

Thanks Arne.

Nikira said...

Hi, Dave! I got my little Wyvern today. Do you know what year? Same as your blue, but mine is black. Something is weird about it. I was trying to screw lead from the top and it doesn't move when I turn the end, it is going non stop without any changes with lead. Unscrewed top part has upside down old red eraser and mechanism is hard to see in black hole of the bottom part. I am thinking maybe something is not OK with mechanical part. How is yours, blue one looks from inside? When you turn golden end of the pencil does it come to a stop at some point? Thank you. Nikira.

Kiwi-d said...

Well here's the problem. I have spent hours looking, but just cannot find my Wyverns!!! Obviously after this blog post I put them back into...the wrong place. I've looked everywhere but they are nowhere to be found. Bizarre.
So, I can't help much. It sounds to me though as if your mechanism is broken. It happens to a lot of these screw mechanisms. They break and then just spin round and round forever.

Nikira said...

Thank you. Sad. It is so small and cozy. I put blue 1.18 lead in it, so I can draw with it till it will get too short. Do you know places where it could be repaired, the mechanism?

Kiwi-d said...

Nikira - I found my Wyvern today, hidden away in a Parker box. So, yes you turn the golden tip section to advance or retract the lead and it comes to a stop when the lead has been fully advanced and ejected. Sounds like your mechanism is broken like I suspected.