The Eclipse Pen Company is often referred to as a Canadian Company, which was at first untrue, then partially true, then completely true. Marx Finstone established the Eclipse Pen Company in New York in 1903, later, with other investors, he established a Canadian Office with manufacturing facilities in 1925. In 1962, the Canadian office bought out the U.S. operations.
(click on pictures to enlarge)
Early Eclipse pencils: as was the case with most other pen companies, Eclipse's earliest offerings were all metal pencils, and it's probably no coincidence that they look a lot like Eversharp pencils. Here are examples in checkerboard, herringbone and floral patterns. The example on the right is probably the rarest Eclipse in my collection. It's red hard rubber and has a standard z-clip.
Given the similarities to the Eversharp (which Wahl was producing in large numbers by 1916) and the fact that they do not have the trademark Eclipse clips (introduced in 1923), I think we have probable beginning and end dates of manufacture.
The most distinctive feature on Eclipse pencils are the large, flat clips. Here are the three variations, from left to right, the oldest to newest. The clip was granted patent number 1,468,025 on September 18, 1923. View patent here.
All of these are the early script-clip models. The earliest, with their bell-tops, are among the finest mechanical pencils ever made.
I think the green one on the end is missing the top piece. Anyone have a spare?
|Middle and later versions of the flattop, with printed clips.|
|Transitional "streamlined" versions of the flattop were apparently produced for a very short period of time, given their scarcity. Note that the clips are identical to the earlier flattops.|
|Once the company quit making large flattop pencils, the quality that was produced suffered. However, later Eclipses are fascinating in the way they "borrow" design elements from other manufacturers. Note the Eagle-style clips, the later Conklin style washer clips, and the later Salz "Treasure" style clips on these models. On the right are three later offerings unique to Eclipse: the "Streamline," the "Hooded Knight" (the pens were meant to compete with the Parker 51), and the "Select-O-Point" (meant to compete with Esterbrook).|
|The Marxton line was a subbrand of Eclipse, named for Eclipse founder Marx Finstone. The common lineage is most evident on the red hard rubber flattop shown here with the trademark Eclipse clip. Quality on Marxtons ranged from about as good to about as bad as the regular line (although the celluloid on the pearl and black one is about as spectacular as you'll find).|
|Jackwin was another subbrand produced by Eclipse. This was a true subbrand - an inferior model meant to compete in the low-end market, produced under a different name so as not to damage the parent's reputation. The riveted clip is a bit more than you would expect from a cheap subbrand, as is the nice swirled copper/black color, but the mechanism and trim were very cheaply made.|
And at the other end of the spectrum, Eclipse also produced a luxury brand, called the Monroe. Examples of these are very rare, extremely high quality and highly sought after.
"Subbrand" just doesn't seem right when you are talking about the Monroe -- "uberbrand" might be more accurate.