This post is mainly about the Cohen version of the Account Book pencil, but I’ve decided to show some other examples as well as it seems like a good place to display them.
First thing of note, the Account Book pencil from Cohen is an extension of the Compressed Cumberland Lead model; it is just a special grade designed for a purpose. This was known as an ‘off grade’ in the industry, i.e., a pencil that didn’t follow the HB grading system. Another example of an ‘off grade’ is Wolff’s Bank of England pencil.The Account Book pencil is also not too dissimilar to the Ledger Pencil; in fact, I’d suggest that they are exactly the same concept, just with a different name.The Account Book pencil appears to have been released at the same time as the rest of the Compressed Cumberland Lead range. The earliest advert I could find referencing it was from the Edinburgh Evening Courant, dated 5 October 1861:This all seems to line up as we know that the Compressed Cumberland Lead pencil was exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition, so it seems likely that they were introduced not too long before this.
The Era of 29 June 1862 reported from the International Exhibition. Whilst I recommend that you read back on my post on the Compressed Cumberland Lead pencil linked above, the article below gives a great insight into the hand made process of these pencils.Amazing that these pencils were hand-planed into shape!The report goes on to discuss the compressed lead process and notes the use of ‘famed Borrowdale Plumbago’.The advert within the Leeds Mercury of 6 June 1862 for Cohen pencils makes a direct reference to the Account Book pencil.The Ipswich Advisor also reported on the International Exhibition but later in November 1862. The Exhibition ran from May to November that year, so it appears that Cohen exhibited for the duration.
Like the Compressed Cumberland Lead pencils, the Account Book displays the ‘Prize Medal’ stamping.The article below is not too dissimilar from the Era article, however, it does provide some further interesting insight so I’ve decided to include it here.Once again we have a reference to the issue of using chunks of pure plumbago in a single pencil, varying grade throughout! The compressed lead idea allowed manufacturers to design their grades.The advertisement within the Illustrated National Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language from 1869 shows us that the Account Book pencil was being sold at the same price as the other Compressed Cumberland Lead graded pencils.The (old) Farmer’s Almanack 1888 is an interesting advert. This is from an American publication so there is a chance that Cohen was marketing these to the US market, however, I’ve never actually come across an importer or stockist, so perhaps the advert just featured across a number of publications within the same group.Cohen include the Trade Mark stamp on one side of the pencil. I don’t believe this refers to the ‘Account Book’ wording, rather the ‘Compressed Cumberland Lead’.
Another reference to the Account Book pencil within the Educational calendar and scholastic year book 1869. I’d like to get my hands on one of the Prize Pocket Pencils also mentioned within this advert.I have a couple of different boxes of these pencils luckily. Nice to open a complete box of something this old.I’ve included a picture of the complete barrel. Its quite difficult to see as WordPress scales the picture, however you should be able to zoom in if you wish.Looking at the front panel designs for both boxes, we can see that the difference is in the border design. I’d hazard a guess that the top box is older than the bottom box, but its just a guess.
There is a chance that the bottom box is made up of two boxes of the same design put together as the colouring is slightly out. No matter, at least we can see the complete design.
Looking at the rear panels, the differences are more apparent. Personally, I prefer the top, older box with the additional wording better than the newer box.
The first side panel is again different. The older box sets out the grading for the Compressed Cumberland Lead range. Of note is the fact that 6B is the same as 3B only extra broad.The newer box just references that Cohen won a lot of medals.The final side panel gives us a bit of information found in different places. Seems like Cohen just moved things about between the designs.
The end panels are largely the same for both boxes so I’ve just included one set.
The Cohen boxes are not too dissimilar to the Hardtmuth boxes featured in the 1899 London wholesale catalogue.I don’t have a Hardtmuth box in my collection, but I do have some of the pencils. They bear a striking similarity to the Cohens. Again, I’ve included a full picture of the barrel but you’ll probably need to zoom in to see it properly.This pencil is one of the few Hardtmuth pencils to include the ‘makers’ stamping; it’s only really seen on early examples and even then not across the board.Hardtmuth also elected to use the ‘rubs out clearly’ stamping like Cohen. This seems to have been popular advertising with numerous makers.Hardtmuth also made a slightly more expensive version with a polished finish, gold stamping and hexagon shape. I don’t have an example to show, but if I come across one I’ll update the post.To wrap up I thought I’d show some examples of Joseph Egerton’s Account Book pencils. I have a couple of boxes of these too, one older, one newer. If i had to hazard a guess I’d think they are both 1920s-1930s.The label from the older box isn’t in a great shape so I’ve taken a close up so you can just about read it.The newer box is much clearer.Top is older, bottom is newer. Amazingly, Egerton also elected to use the ‘rubs out clearly’ wording!I’m sure there are other examples out there, let me know if you have come across any!
Great article again, such impressive research!
Thanks for the kind words Matt, glad you enjoyed! The research is (almost) as fun as tracking down the pencils!