Yore Write!

Old is Old, But Black is Gold

… at least it is to me…

In a much earlier Blog entry I wrote about Charles Goodyear and a few of the pencils in my collection that had casings made from his patented vulcanized rubber (also called black hard rubber, BHR, or ebonite). One of the downsides of rubber is that it naturally oxidizes, with heat and light being the two main culprits when it comes to the oxidation of the rubber.

And for collectors like me, who prefer to have their items on display and looking much like they did when their original owners were using them, rather than hiding them away in a drawer, that means that some of these old ebonite pencils and combos eventually start looking a lot more like their current owner (grey and weathered) than they should.

I currently have over 20 BHR pencils and combos, and about half of them are looking a little rough as a result of oxidation. I recently began looking into options to revive the rubber a little and after some discussion with Mark Hoover, a fellow collector and owner of La Belle Epoque, I purchased a tube of Mark’s “Restoration Balm”.

I received the balm in the mail this morning and spent a couple of hours this afternoon working on two of the BHR’s – a W.S. Hicks magic pencil, and a John Hoagland combo. I’ll let the following images speak for themselves with regards to the effectiveness of Mark’s product … but let me just say in advance … Thanks Mark!

John Hoagland Combo Pencil/Pen – There is no discernible maker’s mark on this combo, but it does have a nice John Hoagland #4 nib. Once I cleaned up the BHR, I spent a bit of time on the gold fittings as well.

W.S. Hicks Magic Pencil – While the Hicks name is not present on this magic pencil, it does have a telltale indicator imprint – “Pat. March 21 ’77”, which refers to U.S. Patent 112,917 filed by William S. Hicks on March 21, 1877. Also imprinted on the barrel is a very faint A.G. Days patent date of August 10, 1858. Austin Goodyear Days patent was for “improvements” that he made to Goodyear’s 1851 patent. He was a cousin to Nelson Goodyear.

Now I just need to find the time to work on the remaining 20+ BHR’s…

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