May 15, 2015

Gilliam’s ‘Ezerite’ and ‘Dubel Servis’

 , pencils and combos and fountain pens.

[Posted on L&P on Nov 22, 2012.]
        This is why the mechanical pencil collectors absolutely must start studying fountain pen history, even if they don’t collect them, and also why the fountain pen collectors must start studying mechanical pencil history, even if they don’t collect them.
        In Jon Veley’s blog post about “Gilliam’s” on Nov 11, 2012, on his Leadhead pencils blog, he wrote about some Gilliam’s “Ezerite” and “True-Point” mechanical pencils that he found.  “The barrels on both of these have the same [chasing] pattern.  Although I don’t know who Gilliam is, I do think I know who made these.  Barrel [chasing] patterns on early metal pencils are a lot like fingerprints, and this pattern is very distinctive.”  He shows two pencils, and the chasing pattern on the Gilliam’s “Ezerite” is the same as the pattern on the “Superite” pencil made by De Witt
La France.  Although he can’t get the Gilliam’s apart to see how it works, and the same is true of the De WittLa France pencil, he concludes that the chasing design alone is enough to convince him that De WittLa France made the Gilliam’s pencils.
        Well, let’s look at all of this from the point of view of fountain pens.  There is one Gilliam I know of who is involved with fountain pens and mechanical pencils.  Joseph Maynard Gilliam was the owner of the Dubel Servis Corp., which made the Dubel Servis fountain pen and pencil combo.  He applied for a US patent for his combo on Oct 6, 1923, but it was not issued.  He did, however, receive
UK patent no. 222,868, June 18, 1925.  Also click on “Description” at the left.  He lived in Nashville, Tenn., but from 1925 to 1930 the business address of his Dubel Servis Corp. was 130 West 42nd St., Rm 421, New York, N. Y. Well, De WittLa France’s address in 1925 was also in the same building at 130 West 42nd St.  They also made pens for Carter’s and Rexall, and pencils for Samuel Ward Co., so they also could have made Gilliam’s “Ezerite” to look just like their “Superite” mechanical pencils.  The early Dubel Servis combos were hard rubber, and the later ones were celluloid, and some have been found with the airplane clips made for Gilliam by Schnell, whose address was just down the street at 150 West 42nd St.
        In another post on his blog Jon wrote, “Kinda makes me wonder what rock I’ve been living under that I’d never heard of this one before”.  I think all the pencil geeks have been living under the pencil rock, and the fountain-pen geeks have been living under the fountain-pen rock.  Websites like Jon’s help the fountain-pen geeks to switch rocks for a while, but it’s up to the pencil geeks to find some fountain-pen rocks to switch over to, once in a while.  And it’s about time, since the histories of pens and pencils are very closely entwined, if not the same.

George Kovalenko.