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Saturday, September 26, 2015

1940 - A Centenary

I have been wanting one of these souvenir mechanical pencils for quite a while now, and finally found one that is in reasonable condition that still works. The problem is that they are not particularly good quality pencils and many of them no longer work and/or they are in poor condition. Also there do not really seem to be that many of them about, so perhaps they were not a big seller back in the day.

The New Zealand Centennial Exhibition celebrated the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which is generaly regarded as the founding of New Zealand, and ran from 8 November 1939 to 4 May 1940. It was hugely popular, with 2.6 million visitors at a time when the population of New Zealand was only 1.6 million. The exhibition emphasised the Britishness of New Zealand, it's independance as a Dominion, but its commitment to, and pride in being, a nation within The Empire. Despite all that, reports indicate that most visitors went straight to the Crazy House and roller coaster in the Playland amusement park that was part of the exhibition.

The certificate of attendance is a background image

There was some speculation that the Exhibition would be cancelled due to the outbreak of World War Two, but it was felt cancellation might have a negative effect on morale so it went ahead as planned. Of course during the exhibition morale was high - off the coast of South America the navy had the victory of the Battle of the River Plate, and the first echelons of the army had arrived in Egypt. Of course a few weeks after the exhibition finished it all started going wrong, the Fall of France, the disasters for the New Zealand Army in the Battle of Greece and of Crete, etc.

Imprint in good but rather unimpressive original state
A good quality instruction sheet is always a bonus
Not surprisingly the pencil is a 1.18mm screw mechanism. Note the "Made entirely in England" on the instructions. I was surprised to see that the instructions are repeated in five other European languages. Presumably the unknown manufacturer had a substantial export business. I have seen this same model mechanical pencil without Centenary markings.