The Eagle Pencil Co. was one of the earliest mechanical pencil manufacturers, founded by Daniel Berolzheimer in 1856. Eagle was also one of the most creative and innovative, with patents spanning decades and covering numerous designs and improvements for both pencils and fountain pens. The company name was changed to Berol, after its founder, in 1969.
(click on pictures to enlarge)
1. Early Eagle Pencils
From left, here is a selection of the earliest Eagle pencils:
1. Miniature leadholder, patent dates March 25, 1879 and May 20, 1879; imprint is too faded to read.
2. Full size leadholder, same patent dates, paint reads No. 881 and has an additional patent date of June 26, 1877
3. Victorian pencil with deep cable twist barrel and twist mechanism marked Eagle Pencil Co. New York around top, no patent dates.
4. Eagle "Drop Pencil" (button on top releases leadholder), marked "Eagle Pencil Co. Pat. May 20, '79 Feb. 27, '83."
5. Aluminum barrel "magic pencil," twist mechanism advances when ring top is pulled upwards, marked Eagle Pencil Co. New York Pat. Aug.13, 1895.
6. Eagle No. 10 Lead holder, marked Pat. Pend.
7. No. 831 Eagle Spear
8. No. 872 Eagle Supply, accommodation clip marked Pat. July 20, 1915.
9. Eagle "Little Torpedo No. 829," Pat. April 6, 1909.
10. Eagle "Torpedo No. 830," Pat. April 6, 1909 and July 20, 1909.
2. The Eagle "Chief" and "Pointer"
In 1910, Eagle introduced the "Chief," first on the left, which was an all metal, one piece barrel, rear drive pencil. The design, by Claes W. Boman, was patented on March 14, 1911 as number 986,896. View patent here. Although I'm an Eversharp fan, it's incorrect that designers of metal pencils all were copying the Eversharp -- if anything, Eversharp (and everyone that came after) was copying Eagle.
It would appear that after the Chief had been produced for a few years, Eagle changed the name to "Pointer." The next two examples, in gold plate and white enamel over brass, appear to be based on the Chief design but are marked "Pointer." Neither is marked with a patent date.
Later, Eagle produced Pointers using an entirely new design by Alfred Michael, for which he applied for a patent on March 26, 1921 and received patent number 1,406,056 on February 7, 1922. View patent here. In the grouping on the right, the first two shown are marked "Pat. Appl'd For," and the remainder bear the 1922 patent date. The black examples are enamel over brass.
|2a. One of the novel features of the Eagle Pointer was the removable tip. When unscrewed, the words "Lead Inside" become visible (one of the black enamel ones reads "For Leads Unscrew Black Cap"). Removing the small black cap on top of the tip reveals a lead magazine within the nose cone. The mechanism is a simple pushrod advanced by turning the upper knob.|
2b. Hard rubber and plastic Pointers.
Eagle later adapted the Pointer design to larger hard rubber and plastic pieces. Since none of these are marked with the 1922 patent dates, they were probably produced long after the introduction of Pointer, in the late 1920s.
Note the riveted clip on the blue example, which matches the clip on the large Eagle flattop on right and also the transitional Magnum Pointers that followed later.
3. The Eagle "Simplex"
As the name implied, the Simplex line didn't have too much to it mechanically. A fixed rod mounted in the cap "pushed" the lead forward as the bottom half is screwed upwards into the cap.
These were produced as late as 1930.
|3a. Here's a shot of a Simplex disassembled, compared with a later all-metal Pencraft design which is nearly identical. The Pencraft has the threading on the inside of the lower barrel, rather than the outside. Otherwise, the designs are identical.|
4. Other Eagle Metal Pencils.
All of these are brass barrel pencils. The first five are lacquered and date to about 1915. Although they are attractive, the paint is usually found badly chipped. The next two appear to be from the 1920s. The three striped and painted ones are from the 1930s (the middle one has a commemorative date of 1936). The last two have a heavy knurled pattern and later style clips, probably dating to shortly before World War II.
5. Eagle Ritaway and Magnum Pointer (nickel trim)
The first two examples on the left are the Eagle "Ritaway" with a painted wood barrel. The next two, in mandarin yellow, represent the transition from earlier models to the Magnum Pointer line. Compare these to the Wales.
The last four are all "Magnum Pointers" -- even the ringtop. Although the name harkened back to the original Pointer, these were a totally different design.
Incidentally, Eagle also produced the Magnum Pointers marked "Belmont" for sale in the Rexall Drug Stores. See that page for more information.
6. Gold Filled Eagle Magnum Pointers
Note the similarity between the left example and the mandarin yellow ones in the preceding frame. This leads me to believe the gold filled and nickel trim lines were produced at the same time.
Eagle "Magnum Pointers" were very large and high quality pencils produced in a stunning array of colors.
7. Early Celluloid Eagles.
All these are marked "Eagle" on the clip and are rear drive, high quality pieces. My guess is that the earlier ones are on the left and were introduced in the early 1930s; I suspect the company later decided to shorten them a bit.
8. Early Middle Joint Eagles
Eagles introduced a robust middle-joint twist mechanism pencil in the mid 1930s. Colors were stunning, as can be seen from this selection.
The group on the left are unmarked except for a picture of an Eagle on the clip; those on the right have clips that read "Eagle."
9. Later middle joint Eagles
Of these, only the wild purple example on the left is a rear drive pencil. During this period, Eagle switched over to a cheap nose-drive product.
Note the similarity of the clips on these examples to those on the J. Harris & Co. page. I am not sure who licensed to whom.
10. "Arrow Clip" Eagles.
I suspect that some if not all of these were made in Canada. The colors on some of these are markedly different from those encountered without the Aarow clips. Note the similarities to Canadian-made Eclipses.
11. Deco Eagles
Most Eagles exhibit art deco design details, but these are really over the top.
12. Later Eagles
As the company wound down into the 1950s, quality suffered badly, although these were still produced in some highly attractive plastics.
Note the similarity of the second from left to the Colby; fourth from left represents an attempt to compete with the Eversharp "Square 4" line; and the next two strongly resemble pencils made by Faber and Arnold.
Second from right is an "Eagle Prince," made in Canada.
"Epenco" pencils, 1930s
For some reason, Eagle produced pencils using the abbreviated trade name "Epenco" for a time. These were made at the same time the company was also producing its regular line.
Note the similarity in clips and bands to later Eclipse pencils.
Third from right is an interesting example with a visible lead magazine.
Later Epenco Pencils
The clips were kind of neat, but the product is otherwise pretty bland. Compare the clips to those produced under the Majestic name by J. Harris and the Walthams distributed by Starr.