Saturday, August 3, 2013


     The Pioneer Village area of the Indiana State Fair is a hotbed of retrotech and, as it turned out, a few vendors thereof as well.  I passed up a well-worn set of radio headphones, 1920s or '30s vintage, but these small items caught my attention and had to come home:
        The pens, by the Bridgeport Pen Co. of the Connecticut town of the same name, are an unusual design, sized for sign or poster work and intended to be used with India-type drawing ink.  The narrowest one is turned so you can see the corrugated brass ink retainer.  They show up fairly often.

     The pencil saver is a clever gadget dating back to Victorian times, allowing you to use a pencil right down to the stub -- and in the stored position, it keeps the point out of harm's way.  This one is a bit newer, 1930s perhaps, with a well-petrified eraser. There's a little drawing of a cave entrance on the label, with the legend, "Souvenir of Mark Twain Cave, Hannibal, Mo."  The entrance still looked the same in a 1956 photograph and may not be much changed even today.

     The trammel (or "beam compass"), made by Feranco Products (Ferance Construction Co. of Penfield, N.Y.) is a very small example; large trammel points that clamp on a framing square or yardstick are more commonly seen.  Neither ZIP nor Zone code on the address and the points proper look to be zamak -- 1930s though 1950s?  This one easily scribes circles up to 12 inches in diameter.  The previous owner left the lead properly sharpened, too. There's a set of actual scribe points (the other end has a stepped drafting type), extra lead and spare clamp screws along with their G U A R A N T E E.  It may have originally contained more beams, which the clamp screws would have held together for making larger circles.

     Prices?  Including tax, I paid more for lunch (a ribeye sandwich and a glass of pop) than I did for any of it -- $10  total for the three pens, the same for the beam compass, $4 for the pencil saver.  This compares rather favorably with asking prices online and these are useful items.


  1. Huh. Penfield NY is just about 12 miles as the goose flies from where I live. (It's a suburb of Rochester.) I can't find any mention of Feranco or Ferance Construction in local listings though.

    Nice finds!

  2. The trammel is super cool.

  3. Yes, it kind of is! But now I have to find more beams for it.

  4. And now I have learned the derivation of untrammeled.

  5. I remember those bullet pencils from my grandaddy and uncle Leland's farms. I found one on 'bay that is from a national bank close to where they lived. Thanks for the memories!!

    I zipped around your blog and saw what looked like a BC1H.... I learned AM on one of those at the old KILE site on Galvestion Island. I was a green engineer with KHCB at the time. Love the blog.... have the same interests, will visit more often...