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Forget-Me-Not, Until You Do

Ever since we humans first clued in to the fact that we are not immortal, many of us have quite naturally pondered our own mortality and what the world might be like in the days and years that follow our demise. For 99.99% of us the world will simply carry on as if nothing of any import has just taken place. But within the orbits of our own little worlds, most of us hope that there are friends and loved ones that will remember us, and that they will share some of those memories with others… our secret desire for at least a smidge of immortality.

Others are less passive in their efforts to be remembered. Wealthy philanthropists may leave a legacy of buildings or have streets named after them; some of the more noteworthy will have monuments raised in recognition of their accomplishments; the artists among us will create stunning works that outlast their creators by generations; but for most of us… well, some may have little to offer other than to bequeath precious heirlooms to their loved ones … and for some Victorians pondering this question, perhaps a few came to the conclusion that what could possibly be a better reminder of dear old what’s-his-name than a “Forget-Me-Not” pencil…

Here are a few “Forget-Me-Not” pencils from my collection. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the stories of their original owners and recipients are now long forgotten. The images of the barrel engravings of “Forget-Me-Not” are not as clear as I’d like, due partly to wear, and partly to some rather poor photography skills on my part.

Wilmot & Co. – This one likely dates to the latter half of the 19th century, and was made by Wilmot & Co. in Birmingham, England.

Thomas Addison – Addison was one of America’s earliest pencil case makers and held one of the earliest patents for an American made pencil. Patent # 736  was issued in May, 1838. Addison had already been in business as a pencil case maker long before that, having first been listed as a pencil case maker in New York in 1823/1824, according to research done by David Nishimura1. The example below likely pre-dates Addison’s 1838 patent as it is identical in design to one made by Woodward & Hale, that was advertised in the Long Island Star in 18332, suggesting that Addison may have been making his pencil cases under license from another early pencil case maker. A series of blog entries on the Leadhead’s Pencil Blog, by Jonathan Veley3 describes these early American makers in much greater detail.

Unknown Maker – This one is a calendar pencil. The ring showing the days of the month is present, although it is missing the tiny ring at the top that would have had the letters representing the days of the week. It is likely American made, and has a couple of traits that suggest it may have been made by either Thomas Addison, or Woodwards & Hale, in the first half of the 19th century. The general design style fits with both those makers, and in addition, the steel tip closely matches those present on both Addison and W&H pencils from the 1830’s.

Sources :

Vintage Pen News – David Nishimura – Thomas Addison, pioneer pencil maker
Leadhead’s Pencil Blog – Jonathan Veley – Woodward’s Patent
Leadhead’s Pencil Blog – Jonathan Veley – The Brothers Woodward

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