Posted 5 years ago
This is again from my extensive collection of 18th, 19th & Early 20th century Writing and Drawing Equipment: This is an excellent example of an un-named, unmarked, unremarkable and standard Victorian Silver Propelling Pencil. It has an octagonal, fluted body. Each concave face of the body is decorated with two different but complementary and alternating styles of hand engraving.
The tip is marked with “VS” which indicates the type of original leads required. This is obviously not a Sampson Mordan example (One of top English Silversmiths specialising in pencils and pens. See my other posts for his history), but he published the protocol (and gained a Patent) for lead sizing:
In his “ Directions For Use”, which was ADOPTED & USED by many other makers (including the mystery maker of this particular pencil):
The Directions say; “The V.S (very soft) is largest.........Very black for deep shading”.
I have measured the Lead that was insitu, and it is 1.49mm which correlates to the accepted 1.5mm (nominal modern equivalent) size for this (VS) type of lead.
See Photo .4 of my Collectors Weekly post for the Lead Specifications that pertain to all tip MARKED propelling pencils out of England:
Note: The “V” of “V.S” is stamped slightly out of place but this in no way affects the pencils value or charm. There are no Assay Hallmarks but that is not entirely unusual with pencils of this period. The pencil has tested as silver. However; as is the norm, this does not extend to the internal mechanism that was always made from harder wearing metals.
The Pencil is 90 mm long when closed, and 118 mm when extended. It weighs 11.3 grams. As far as the condition of this pencil goes; there is some slight deformation from use and its age, along the slide slot in the body. There is smoothing and blurring of some details from decades of respectful handling and cleaning by the user/s. This also is often present in these antique and used pencils, and does not detract from it, but should always be taken into consideration when assessing these beautiful and tactile items.
The “Seal” finial is the real “jewel in the crown” with this particular pencil, I have never seen it's like, in what is essentially a "middle of the road" propelling pencil: The finial cap itself, unscrews for lead storage and is set with this visually perfect, facet cut, sky blue Topaz of 8mm diameter. This stunning, palest of blue, Topaz reflects and refracts the light beautifully. Because of the cut of this gemstone, it is unlikely it was actually meant to carry an engraved seal monogram, it is purely decorative, and it certainly stands out in my collection, or any collection, as one of the best "everyday"* pencils.
*I use this term loosely, because the everyday propelling pencil was invariably made from non-precious metal like brass or from bone, even wood (when it could perhaps be termed "Treen")
As ever; thank you for looking, and I hope you enjoyed it!