A virtual museum of the golden age of the Canadian pencil industry.
I recently acquired a few Eagle Charco 310 pencils. These are charcoal pencils vice graphite pencils and used for sketching and layout work.
You might notice that the right side of the box is perforated so that the end can be removed and pencils either displayed or stored in the box. I haven't seen this feature on any other Eagle pencil boxes.
The pencil below is a bit of a mystery. It is an Microtomic 603 pencil but instead of the expected "Eberhard Faber" name it says "Dixon". What is going on here?
Below is what you would expect to see. A Microtomic with the typical Eberhard Faber name on it.
To get to the bottom of this mystery, we need to unravel the complex web of writing company acquisitions and mergers. Eberhard Faber (Canada) Ltd. was the Canadian subsidiary of The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company located in the USA. This subsidiary was facing financial challenges in the late 1970s and was purchased by The Dixon Pencil Company of Canada Ltd. This was the Canadian subsidiary of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company in the USA. In the US however, the story is different. Eberhard Faber was purchased by acquired by Faber-Castell and later by Newell (Sanford) and rolled into the Papermate brand. Dixon was purchased by FILA. This is why you currently see Pink Pearl erasers, originally from Eberhard Faber, sold by Dixon (FILA) in Canada but by Papermate (Newell) in the USA.
The factory in Acton Vale had the benefit of having the machines used to fully vulcanize raw rubber. This made it ideal for specializing in erasers and rubber bands. I believe that when Dixon took over, they focused on eraser production and quickly ceased pencil production. Because of this, my guess is that the Dixon Microtomic seen in this post is fairly rare. If you nave any additional insight, I'd appreciate more information.
Voice from the East, December 23, 1977, Friday, December 23, 1977
The sale of Eberhard Faber of Acton Vale is imminent
By Fernand BELANGER
ACTON VALE— The sale of the firm Eberhard Faber of Acton Vale to the company Dixon Pencil has just taken an important step as the federal government approved this transaction.
This move by government authorities follows a suggestion from the Foreign Investment Monitoring Agency. Mr. Gordon Dewhirst, director of research for this organization, explained that this transaction had to be approved by Ottawa since the company Dixon Pencil has its head office in the United States.
Mr. Dewhirst also specified that it is the Canadian subsidiary of Dixon Pencil, in Toronto, which is making this acquisition. He concluded by stressing that he was not authorized to give the details of this transaction “and this because of the regulations which govern FIMA.
For his part, the manager of the Acton Vale plant, Mr. Jean-Guy Desloges, declined to comment until the transaction is officially concluded.
Finally, Mr. Marcel Jetté, president of the union, said he was happy that the agreement between the two firms seems to be coming to fruition. He explained that this sale should allow a revival of this industry which has experienced major problems for several years and significantly increase the number of employees which currently stands at 19.
It should be noted that a new two-year collective agreement was signed at the beginning of November and that the talks took place in the context of a possible closure of the plant, following a notice to that effect sent to the Minister of Labor and Manpower on August 26.
It was following this agreement that negotiations between Eberhard Faber, which is also a subsidiary of an American firm, and Dixon Pencil accelerated with the result that an official agreement could perhaps be reached at the beginning of 1978 and bring a new era of prosperity for this factory established in Acton Vale for 25 years and which manufactures lead pencils as well as erasers.
The voice of the East, April 8, 1978, Saturday April 8,
Eberhard Faber sold - Dixon Pencil moves into Acton Vale factory
By Fernand BELANGER
ACTON VALE — The Eberhard Faber company of Acton Vale is now under the control of the firm Dixon Pencil Ltd while the federal government has just approved the documents relating to this transaction. The firm Eberhard Faber, founded more than 25 years ago, was the Canadian subsidiary of the company of the same name which has its head office in the United States and becomes the property of Dixon Pencil, an industry established in Ontario and which is the subsidiary Canadian by Joseph Dixon Crucible of Jersey City, in the US state of New Jersey.
The new manager of the plant, Mr. Jean-Paul Roy, indicated that this market will require an investment of around 1,500,000, this sum including the purchase of the firm as well as the changes that will have to be made in order to modernize equipment with the particular aim of diversifying production. Thus, the current focus is mainly on the manufacture of rubber bands and erasers. The changes that will be made, as part of a three-year planning program, will include the addition of the manufacture of pens and pencils.
According to Mr. Roy, one of the goals of this planning is to reduce the production cost of elastic bands, which constitutes the bulk of sales, so that the Eberhard Faber company can face competition from other companies working in the same fields both at home and abroad.
On the other hand, these changes should also have the effect of increasing the number of employees, especially if the anticipated recovery in sales occurs. However, Mr. Roy said he was unable to specify when this increase in the workforce will occur, stressing that it will be necessary to wait a few months to verify the evolution of the situation. For now, the number of employees will remain static at 19, the same total as when the last agreement was signed in the fall of 1977.
Mr. Roy concluded by emphasizing that the Eberhard Faber company should be able to take advantage of Dixon Pencil's sales network to increase its market share, both in Quebec and in other Canadian provinces.
It should be remembered that the Eberhard Faber company in Acton Vale has suffered financial losses on several occasions over the past decade and that the managers of the head office had decided, during the past year, to close the Canadian division. A notice to this effect had also been sent to the Minister of Labor and Manpower, Mr. Pierre-Marc Johnson, on August 26.
But already at that time, negotiations had been undertaken between Eberhard Faber and Dixon Pencil with a view to the acquisition by the latter of the Acton Vale facilities. The two parties having finally come to an agreement, all that was missing was the approval of the Foreign Investment Surveillance Agency, a procedure which has been completed in recent weeks.
We can mention in conclusion that the American company Dixon is not new to the sector since the year 1977 marked the 150th anniversary of this firm.
Wheatley & Wilson Ltd. was a large stationery and office supply store in Montreal, Quebec. They were incorporated in the early 1940s. They appear to have been in business until at least the late 1970s. I've seen a number of other Wheatley & Wilson branded stationary supplies including rulers, staples, hole punches, etc.
The pencils below are a hexagonal pencil with a white stripe painted on the ferrule. The No. 200 pencils come tipped with an eraser and the No. 100 pencil has no eraser. They came in seven degrees (B, HB, F 2 2/4, H, 2H, 3H and 4H). Stephen at Pencil Talk has a number of Wheatley and Wilson pencils in his collection. He has some nice history on his site. These pencils were most likely manufactured in one of the Canadian pencil factories... Dixon, Venus in Ontario or Eagle in Quebec.
Below is an entry from the Quebec Official Gazette from March of 1942.
The Venus Velvet was the flagship pencil produced by Venus Pencil Company Ltd. in Canada. The most common version of this pencil is the yellow painted 6557 (the 3557 in the US). The Velvet pencil however came in other versions. One was a "natural finish" version. It was stamped with the number 557 both in Canada and in the US. A 1914 American Lead Pencil Company catalog shows this pencil made in "4 degrees", each one with a different number: 556-soft, 557-soft-medium, 558-medium and 561-hard. A 1937 catalog shows both the 3557 and 557 made in a variety of degrees.
"3557 VENUS-VELVET. The country's leading commercial pencil. This is the standard tipped Venus-Velvet in yellow finish. 5 degrees-1, 2, 2 2/3, 3, and 4. Edgeless. Boxed dozens, 1/2 gr. to carton - weight - 1 ob., 5 ozs. $7.20 per gr.
557 VENUS-VELVET. This is the standard tipped Venus-Velvet in cedar finish. 5 degrees - 1, 2, 2 2/3, 3 and 4. Edgeless. Boxed dozens, 1/2 gr. to carton - weight - 1 lb., 5 ozs. $7.20 per gr."
I have no idea of the age of the pencils pictured below.
"Canada's Pride" was a graphite pencil sold by Librairie Beauchemin Ltd (a bookstore, not a library). Library in English and Librairie in French are false cognates (aka False Friends or Faux Amis)... two words that sounds the same but have different meanings. Une librairie is where you go to buy a book, not to borrow one. The company had a long history in Montreal as a book printer and seller, starting around 1845.
The image below left shows an advertisement for Canada's Pride pencils from a 1911 Almanac. I don't know if they had the facilities to make these pencils themselves or if they were made in the US and imported. They appear to have been popular and I've seen a number of advertisements over a decade long period (1906-1916). The pencil is described as, "The colour, a beautiful brilliant golden yellow, with an embossed silver inscription, makes it the prettiest pencil."
Below you an see a patent record for the words "Canada's Pride" and "Maple Leaf" from July 1908.
In a Canadian government publications dated 1916 for equipping Canadian Expeditionary Forces for overseas deployments, it specifically lists "Canada's Pride" pencils as part of the supplied equipment. Note the alternate "Orloff" pencil was probably manufactured by Eagle Pencil in New York.
Like many old pencils sold in Canada, I've never seen one of these pencils other than in advertisements. If you're aware of any photos, please let me know.
Red and Blue checking pencils have historically been used by copy editors. The red end could be used to identify mistakes by circling or striking errors, while the blue end could be used to make notations, notes or additions. Many of these pencils are painted two different colors to identify which side had which color core. Interestingly, most of the Canadian versions of these pencils were painted all red and imprinted to identify the color of each side. Below are a few Canadian red & blue editing pencils.
I recently acquired a receipt that appears to be from 1919 from a pencil company that I haven't heard of in the past. The receipt says that the company is a pencil manufacturer but the items on the receipt appear to be dip in penholders and rubber bands.
I'm honestly not sure if this is an actual receipt or a page from a 1940s Bookkeeping and Accounting workbook. There are clues that could point in either direction.
I learned a few things about invoices by looking at old accounting textbooks. In the top right you'll see the statement "TERMS N/30 2%/10". I found that this means that if the buyer pays the invoice within 10 days, they may deduct 2% of the price of the invoice. If the buyer does not pay in the first 10 days, they are expected to pay the total amount of the invoice in 30 days. These terms are sometime read, "net 30, two ten". The accounting textbook contained several sample invoices that were similar to this one except for the block in the bottoms with all the initials and handwritten notes.
I was fortunate to win an auction for the set of Ticonderoga pencils shown below. I believe these pencils date to the 1940s or early 1950s based on the design of the paper band holding the set. The ferrule isn't painted... I don't know if it was never painted or the painting flaked off over the years.
Below are a couple of pictures showing similar packaging. One is a set of Dixon Sovereign pencils with a picture of King George VI, who reigned from 1936-1952. Also shown is an advertising ink blotter. The 2-digit dash 4-digit phone number shown dates from pre-1954.
The Canadian Centennial was a yearlong celebration held in 1967 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. July 1st is the anniversary of The British North America act which created Canada. Back in 1967, July 1st was known as Dominion Day. The holiday wasn't changed to Canada Day until 1982.
The Canadian Centennial year celebration included a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Parliament Hill. The Queen's visit to Canada included a visit to Expo '67 in Montreal. Lots of memorabilia was created to celebrate this day including a special "Canadian" typeface... Cartier. Also created were the stamps and pencils shown below.
The pencil industry has seen lots of mergers and acquisitions over the years. Sometimes this results in a change in company name. The Eagle Canada Pencil of Company Limited acquired North-Rite Limited in 1965. At the time, Eagle was Canada's largest manufacturer of pencils and pens. North-Rite was a major Canadian manufacturer of ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils and fountain pens. North-Rite was run as a subsidiary company of Eagle Pencil for some time. In about 1969, Eagle changed its name to Eagle/North-Rite Limited. By 1975 the name had changed again to Berol. This allows pencils that were packaged in boxes with the Eagle/North-Rite name to be fairly accurately dated to this period of time. Below are a few examples of these.