A virtual museum of the golden age of the Canadian pencil industry.
There'll Always Be an England
May 8th is the anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. This day commemorates the day that Germany unconditionally surrendered its military forces to the Allies on May 8, 1945.
There is a show on community television where I live called "The Past and the Curious." The show states, "An article can endure through time, but only its story makes it an artifact." I think the pencil shown below has an interesting story to tell. It is a pencil made by the Venus Pencil Company of Canada that has the patriotic slogan "There'll Always Be an England" on its side. In addition to the slogan it has the Union jack, a British bulldog and lion... all popular symbols of England.
"There'll Always Be an England" is an English patriotic song, written and distributed in the summer of 1939. The song became very popular as Canada entered the Second World War in 1939. The song was played on the radio and the sheet music sold 130,000 copies in Canada (published by Gordon V. Thompson who secured the North American copyright). Initially, the song was banned on the radio in the US which was still neutral at the time.
Because of the popularity of the song, many items where made with the slogan, "There'll Always be an England." Below is a vintage Canadian post card with the slogan and a Union Jack waving in front of a military display.
Below is an envelope sent from Canada to the US in November 1941. The postmark shows that the letter was mailed on Nov. 20th, 1941 from Windsor, Ontario. It appears that the "Enlist Now" flag cancel was used in 32 different cities during the period of 1941 to 1943. I can imagine this letter reaching its American destination about the time of the Dec. 7th 1941 attach on Pearl Harbour.
Happy VE Day!
There won't be a "made-in-Canada" pencil to mark the coronation of King Charles III but we can at least admire pencils from past coronations. A number of Canadian pencil manufacturers made commemorative pencils for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Below is a pencil, made by the Eagle Pencil Company of Canada, to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1937.
Below is a very similar pencil, made by Eagle to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. It came in both gold and silver.
Canadian Rulers Company
The vast majority of vintage "Made in Canada" wooden school rulers were manufactured by the Acme Ruler and Advertising Company located in Toronto, Ontario. There were other companies that made wooden rulers in Canada as well. One company, almost as old as Acme, was the Canadian Rulers Company was founded in Bedford, Quebec in 1939. Below is a 15 inch ruler from this company.
While Acme was purchased by an American company production moved overseas, the Canadian Rulers Company is still in business in Canada. The company changed its name in 1960 to Bedford Ruler Ltd. and now focuses mainly on production of paint paddles.
It is difficult to find much information on these rulers. The only mentions I found online was from several different Canadian Trade Indexes from the 1950s.
Ink Blotters - Part 3
Stationery companies often gave out ink blotters adverting various pens and pencils. I have shared some ink blotters in the past... see Ink Blotters and Ink Blotters - Part 2. I've added two more ink blotters to my collection which feature Dixon pencils.
A story is what turns an object into an artifact and ink blotters have lots of stories to tell. The ink blotter on the right advertises the Dixon Ticonderoga pencil. In the US, the image of Ethan Allen often adorns packaging and advertisements for Ticonderoga pencils. This was problematic for the Canadian subsidiary of Dixon Pencil as Ethan Allen doesn't have the same patriotic connotations in this country.
Beaupres Interiors Ltd. also has a story to tell. Harold Beaupres enlisted in the Canadian Air Force in 1941. He became a flight lieutenant and was a navigator on a Lancaster Bomber which was shot down in 1943. It crashed in occupied France and Beaupre was taken to a prisoner of war camp near the Polish border called Stalag Luft 3. The camp was made famous when seventy-four prisoners escaped in 1944, inspiring the film The Great Escape. He was liberated from the prison in 1945. In 1946, after returning from the war, he worked in his father's store Beaupre Paint and Wallpaper. He later renamed the store Beaupres Interiors. Beaupre ran the business for thirty years in several downtown locations before retiring in 1979 and opening up another shop called Beaupre Stamps. The seven-digit, two letter and five number (2L+5N), format of the telephone number helps to date this ink blotter most likely to between 1951 and 1962.
Below is a picture showing the ink blotters featuring pencils that I've collected from Canadian stationery and office supply stores. Turns out, all of these stores are from Ontario.
Pencil from the short lived Canadian Pencil Company are rare to find. The company is one of the few that were a purely Canadian company and not a subsidiary of a US company. The pencils below are a fantastic example of pencils from this company.
These writing pencils have a small space on them to write your initials (or perhaps your name if you have a short one). These pencils have an HB lead and came in four different iridescent colors: dark blue, gold, red and dark green. The dark blue and dark green are hard to tell apart unless there is light shining on them. Like many Canadian Pencil Co. pencils, they have "Fait Au" as well as "Made In" next to the word Canada as well as the Canadian map logo.
A couple of years ago, I saw a vintage Canadian APSCO Giant pencil sharpener. Unfortunately it was way out of my price range. I've been keeping my eye out for a more affordable one since then. I've recently been sucessful in getting one at a reasonable price. It is the only vintage sharpener I have and it looks great next to my collection of ACME rulers.
The original olive green paint color is great and the logo on the transparent plastic "chip receptacle" is in relatively good shape for its age.
There is some great information on the history of the Automatic Pencil Sharpener Co. at the Made in Chicago Museum website.
During the second world war, many pencils were made with paper or plastic ferrules in order to reserve critical raw materials for the war effort. This was mandated in Canada by the Wartime Prices and Trade Board. Below is an article describing this as well as the order itself.
The Ottawa Journal, Sept 4, 1942
Prices Board Now Trims Even 'Styles' of Pencils- Erasers and Metal Ferrules Are Banned From Wooden Pencils
The production program of Canadian manufacturers making wood pencils and penholders will be simplified as the result of a Wartime Prices and Trade Board order announced today by G. P. Sabiston, administrator of sundry items. The new order reduces the number of lines and styles of from 68 to 38 without cutting the quantity of pencils and penholders available or impairing their utility.
Henceforth no manufacturer of wood pencils may make more than 38 styles, and new ones may not be introduced without permission of the administrator. "Style" is defined in the order as "a combination of writing color, shape (with or without tip) and degree of hardness".
Crude rubber erasers and metal ferrules will no longer be put on wood pencils, and fancy lacquered finishes may no longer be used except the trade-marked type know as "crackled finish". The standard shapes will be round, hexagon round-edge, hexagon and triangular. Carpenters pencils are not included in the limitation of styles and may also be made in oval oblong and hexagon oblong shapes.
Each manufacturer must continue to make pencils in the same range of writing colors and the same degrees of hardness as he did in 1941.
Pencil manufacturers have noted increased demand for their products since the war began, chiefly from industry, the armed forces and departments of Government. The simplification will enable the manufacturer to obtain more production per hour because of the eliminat9ion of many change-over in machinery.
To conserve boxboard and paper, two large selling lines of pencils sold to schools, general stores, factories, etc., must be packed loose in gross lots in plain pulpboard boxes, but large orders of wood pencils sold in the commercial and professional fields may be packed in dozen bands.
No manufacturer, the order states, may use, provide or distribute more than three styles of half-gross displays or change the style of them without the permission of the administrator.
Wood penholders have been restricted to ten styles, and no new ones may be introduced. School pen and pencil boxes and pouches will no longer be available in more than four lines per manufacturer when present stocks are exhausted.
The order does not affect the completion or use of partially processed stuck and raw materials on hand or the sale of any lines or styles completed prior to the effective date of the order, September 1.
THE WARTIME PRICES AND TRADE BOARD
Administrator's Order No. A-371
Respecting Wood Pencils and Penholders
Pursuant to authority conferred by the Wartime Prices and Trade Board I do hereby order, on behalf of such Board, as follows : --
1. For the purposes of this Order,
(a) "Administrator" means the Administrator of Sundry Items, N.O.P. from time to time appointed by the Wartime Prices and Trade Board with the approval of the Governor in Council;
(b) "style", in the case of wood pencils, means a combination of writing colour, shape (with or without tip) and degree of hardness.
2. No person shall hereafter manufacture wood pencils,
(a) in more than 38 styles, provided that carpenters' pencils shall not be included in such limitation;
(b) in any styles other than those manufactured by him at the date of this Order unless the Administrator gives written permission otherwise ;
(c) in any shapes other than those known to the trade as round, hexagon round-edge, hexagon and triangular, provided that carpenters' pencils may be manufactured in oval oblong and hexagon oblong shapes;
(d) of the kind known to the trade as "Fancy Pencils" having fancy lacquered finishes such as mottled and marbleized effects, provided that this paragraph shall not prohibit the use of the trade-marked finish known as "Crackled Finish";
(e) with crude rubber erasers or metal ferrules.
3. Subject to the restrictions set forth in Section 2 above, each manufacturer of wood pencils shall continue to manufacture and supply wood pencils,
(a) in the same range of writing colours manufactured and sold by him during the year 1941, provided, that any manufacturer may eliminate one oversize hexagon shaped colour line comprising 4 colours;
(b ) in the same degrees of hardness or softness as manufactured and sold by him in the year 1941.
4. Each manufacturer of wood pencils shall within 15 days from the date of this Order file with the Administrator a list of all styles of wood pencils which such manufacturer is manufacturing at the date of this Order. Such list shall indicate the styles which the manufacturer proposes to retain and the styles which he proposes to eliminate as provided in sections 2 and 3.
5. The Administrator may confirm the lists of styles retained and eliminated, or may alter or vary such lists and direct any manufacturer to retain any style of wood pencil which such manufacturer proposes to eliminate, and may direct that any style retained in any list be eliminated. Each manufacturer shall be governed by such directions of the Administrator. The Administrator in giving such directions, shall have regard to the retention or inclusion of essential lines.
6. To conserve boxboard and paper, two large selling lines of wood pencils sold to schools, general stores, factories, etc. shall be packed loose in gross quantities in plain pulpboard boxes, provided, that large orders of wood pencils sold in the commercial and professional fields may be packed in dozen bands.
7. No manufacturer of wood pencils shall use, provide or distribute more than three styles of half-gross displays, or change, except with the written consent of the Administrator, the styles of such displays from those now used by such manufacturer.
8. No person shall hereafter manufacture,
(a) wood penholders in any styles other than those manufactured by him at the date of this Order;
(b ) more than 10 styles of wood penholders;
(c) an 4 lines of school pen and pencil boxes and pouches.
9. Each manufacturer of wood penholders shall, within 15 days from the date of this Order, report in writing to the Administrator in detail,
(a) the styles of wood penholders manufactured by him at the date of this Order;
(b) the styles which he proposes to retain as provided by section 8 (b).
10. The Administrator on receiving such lists shall proceed with respect to wood penholders in the same manner as set forth in Section 5 of this Order with respect to wood pencils and shall give such directions as he may deem suitable.
11. Nothing in this Order contained shall prohibit,
(a) the completion or use of partially processed stock and raw materials on hand at date of this Order;
(b) the sale of any lines or styles completed prior to the date of this Order or manufactured under the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section.
Dated at Ottawa, this 1st day of September, 1942.
G. P. SABISTON,
Administrator of Sundry Items.
Chairman, The Wartime Prices and Trade Board.
A Golden Anniversary
Do you have a pencil soundtrack? If not, don't worry... Berol has you covered.
The Canadian subsidiary of the Eagle Pencil Company was established in Drummondville, Quebec in 1931. The company later changed its name to Berol. This company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1981 by releasing a 2 record LP with popular music from the 50 years of its existence (CSPS-2-1780-E). This record was also produced in a French language version, Berol, Cinquante Ans De Succès (CSPS-1782). Just the cover was translated, the track on the records remained the same.
Inside the fold, there is a written history of the company as well as a display of products that Berol produced at the time. It is a nice range of pencils, colored pencils, pens and drafting supplies.
The text inside of the record jacket is as follows:
In celebration of our golden anniversary, we at Berol are pleased to present this selection of musical favourites from the past 50 years.
We hope it will bring you hours of pleasure and that, in listening, you'll discover some old personal favourites.
We feel this album is appropriate to Berol's anniversary celebration since, as representatives of one of mankind's oldest and most universal forms of self-expression, our products share a common bond with music.
Writing and drawing instruments have come a long way since man first etched symbols of his thoughts on cave walls. Today, a vast industry works to supply the varied needs of an increasingly literate world; and Berol is one of the world's most prestigious manufacturers, with seven major divisions and 12 factories around the globe.
50 years ago, the Berol family established the Eagle Pencil Company in Canada with a factory in Drummondville, Quebec.
While the factory originally manufactured pencils only, the product line soon grew along with the needs of the Canadian market, and, with the acquisition of North-Rite in 1966, a wide variety of ball point pens joined the family - along with a new name: Eagle/North-Rite Ltd.
A year later, with consumers' needs becoming increasingly sophisticated, Eagle/North-Rite built a large, new factory in Drummondville, creating more jobs and a healthier local economy.
Since then, our factory has continued to improve and modernize, with mechanization and automation unsurpassed in the industry.
In 1974, in accordance with our international image, we joined our affiliates around the world in adopting the name Berol.
Today, Berol is Canada's largest manufacturer of writing, drawing and drafting instruments, and offers the most complete range of products.
Mirado and Eagle pencils, Turquoise drawing instruments, Prismacolor and Canadiana art pencils, porous tip Dart and Dart II pens, Eagle ball pens, Liquid Tip markers, RapiDesign templates, and the easy-writing Spree are just a few of the many products that we design and manufacture for use at home, at school and at work.
And, in celebration of our golden anniversary, Berol introduces Super Sharp - the ultrafine porous tip pen.
Berol is proud of its 50 year history in this country; proud of its accomplishments in meeting the growing needs of a growing market, and of its contribution to the community within which the company lives and operates.
We thank all those, employees and customers alike, whose efforts and loyalty have contributed to Berol's success, and we look forward to many more years serving the Canadian public.
HAPPY LISTENING, FROM BEROL.
A reader of the blog, sent in these photos of a Berol Super Sharp ultrafine pen as mention in the record jacket as being introduced in 1981.
The Eagle "Mammoth" pencil appears to have been introduced in the US around 1894. It was originally made in two colors, No. 1791 blue and No. 1792 red. A green pencil, No. 1789, was added later. As indicated by its name, this is a jumbo hexagonal pencil. Given the limited colors, I'm assuming that this pencil was intended as a checking pencil and not for art. The pencil shown below was made at the Canadian Eagle factory in Drummondville, QC sometime between its opening in 1931 and around 1940 when they changed to the less stylized Eagle logo.
Below are two images, both from 1894, showing the new Mammoth pencil. One from a stationery catalogue and one from a journal.
If you want a vintage soft black Canadian sketching pencil you have two very similar pencils to choose from. Dixon's Special Black 312 and Eagle's Veriblack 315. The have lots of similarities. They both date from at least to the early 1900s, have a mini-jumbo (8.5 mm diameter) size, a similar number and had a similar purpose. Dixon and Eagle were direct competitors and these two pencils are nearly carbon copies... I wonder which came first? Below is some information on each of them.
Dixon Special Black 312
While the American version of this pencil was painted yellow, the Canadian version was painted blue. This pencil was already a popular staple of American schools when the Canadian subsidiary of Dixon started in 1931. These pencils were manufactured for quite a long time.
The two advertisements below come from publications from the early part of the 20th century. This pencil was advertised heavily in educational journals at this time with an aim for school use.
Eagle Veriblack 315
Perhaps the Canadian version of the Dixon Special Black was painted blue to make it stand apart from the Eagle Veriblack pencil which was also painted yellow, as many school pencils of the time were.
The advertisement below is dated from 1910 and shows a similar drive to get the Veriblack in schools and educational institutions as a drawing pencil.