A few years ago, what was left of a 1920s flattop pencil came my way in a box full of other goodies.  The tip was broken off, the cap was missing and the mechanism was frozen stiff, but yet I didn't throw it away -- partly because I could still see the beauty in it, and partly, well, because I never throw anything away. 

Turns out that was a good thing, because this little broken down pencil has quite a history behind it.  The clip assembly is a hint at what pencil collectors will recognize as the key to the history of so many flattops of the era.

I was doing some research on early Gold Bond pencils when I decided to track down the mysterious patent dates that show up on their caps: 8/4/25, 1/5/26, 1/5/26 (again) and 11/24/25.   And I found them:

  • Patent number 1,548,548, granted to Charles H. Patton on August 4, 1925.  View here
  • Patent number 1,568,950, granted to David M. Ballou on January 5, 1926.  View here
  • Patent number 1,568,951, also granted to David M. Ballou on January 5, 1926.  View here
  • Patent number 1,563,217, granted to Arthur E. Moore on November 24, 1925.  View here

All four of these patents had one thing in common:  all were assigned to The Rex Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island.

I also discovered a fifth patent assigned to Rex, number 1,484,180, which was granted to Lawrence T. McNary on February 19, 1924.  View here.  Although that pencil doesn't look much like the others, that patent date is the only date stamped on a Gold Medal pencil shown on the Gold Medal page, so the inner workings for all these pencils must have originated there.

So the humble Rex is the granddaddy of scores of different pencils made during this time, including those made by Blue Ribbon, Corona, Gold Bond, Gold MedalJohn Holland, Supremacy and Webster.  

(click on pictures to enlarge)

 rexThe remains of my only example of the Rex.  I'd love to hear from anyone with an intact, working example! 


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