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Early Office Museum

Antique Mechanical Pencil Sharpener Gallery
 ~ 1860-1899 ~

This page illustrates all machines with moving parts known to have been sold for sharpening wood-cased lead pencils prior to 1900. This page also includes all US and German patents issued by 1885 for machines for sharpening lead pencils. Many additional patents for pencil sharpeners were issued during 1885-99; we have not included these because we have not (yet) found evidence that corresponding machines were produced. Finally, this page also illustrates two devices that were designed to hold pencils while they were sharpened with a knife.

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Model, Year, Maker

Click Image to Enlarge
Haskell Pen Rack, Cleaner, and Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1860 by Henry C. Haskell, Marshall, MI
 The pencil was inserted into the cone with the red dot. There is no evidence whether this was marketed.  
1860_Haskell_Pen_Rack_Cleaner__Pencil_Sharpener_patent_illustration.jpg (50526 bytes)
Woodcock Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1869 by Shepherd S. Woodcock, Somerville, MA
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1869_S_S_Woodcock_Pencil_Sharpener_patent_illustration.jpg (54254 bytes)
Livingston Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1878 by Francis Livingston, Newark, NJ
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1878_Livingston_Machine_for_Sharpening_Pencils.jpg (27845 bytes)
Sievert Pencil Holder
Patented 1878 by Max Sievert, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1878_Max_Sievert_pencil_holder_1825.jpg (25322 bytes)
Patridge's Patent Perfect Pencil Pointer
Advertised 1880
Philip W. Harris, Manufacturer's Agent
Boston, MA

This is the earliest advertisement we have found for a mechanical pencil sharpener, that is, a sharpener with parts that move while the pencil is being sharpened. While the 1880 illustrated advertisement identifies this as "Patridge's Pencil Pointer," some publications from 1880 refer to it as "Partridge's Pencil Pointer" (with an "r" after the "Pa"). We have not found a US patent.
1880_Patridge's_Pencil_Pointer_detail_OM.jpg (172290 bytes)
Rice Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1880 by Henry C. Rice, Easthampton, MA
In 1886, in describing the planetary cutting mechanism of the Acme pencil sharpener (see below), the inventor of the Acme made the following comments on the Rice pencil sharpener and on the Hoffman pencil sharpener (see below), indicating that these machines were produced but had deficiencies that limited their commercial success. "[T]he cutter acts or cuts in a direction nearly if not transverse to the grain of the wood of the pencil, the consequence being that the fibers are torn or broken rather than smoothly cut, and the lead itself by the same action is cracked and broken.  So pronounced, indeed, are these defects that they practically forbid any extended use of such machines, the consequence being that few, if any, of them are now found in the market."
1880_Rice_Pencil_Sharpener.jpg (29918 bytes)
Van Houser Pencil Sharpening Machine
Patented 1880 by Henry Van Houser, Dayton, OH
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1880_Van_Houser_Pencil_Sharpener_patent_illustration.jpg (24820 bytes)
Eagle Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1882
Eagle Pencil Co.
New York, NY
1882 Eagle Pencil Sharpener Eagle Pencil Co. OM.jpg (42545 bytes)
Schmarje Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1882 by J. Schmarje, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1882_J._Schmarje_ps_17427.jpg (50090 bytes)
Hambruch Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1882 by H. F. Hambruch, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1882_H_F_Hambruch_ps_18045.jpg (79853 bytes)
Schaller Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1883 by Franz Schaller, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1883_F_Schaller_ps_20856.jpg (46322 bytes)
Pistotnik Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1883 by Edmund Pistotnik, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1883_E_Pistotnik_ps_22965.jpg (43557 bytes)
Ehrhardt Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1883 by Friedrich Ehrhardt, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1883_F_Ehrhardt_ps_24413.jpg (38251 bytes)
Sibley's Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 ~ Advertised 1884-90, 1894
Willard E. Sibley
Waltham, MA

The catalog of an 1884 exhibition states that Sibley exhibited a "Lead and Slate Pencil Sharpener. -- This is an ingenious and quite effective device for sharpening pencils, and is designed mainly for schools.  It consists of a belt of sand-paper, so geared and belted that while it moves by one revolution of the crank in one direction, about five feet, the pencil is revolved fifteen times in the opposite direction, and so rapidly grinds away the pencil to a point."  Fifteenth Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, Boston, 1884, p.101.
According to an Oct. 1894 publication, which also contained an illustrated review of this machine, "A large number of school and principals' offices were equipped last month with the Sibley pencil sharpener, manufactured by Walter E. Sibley, Waltham, Mass. American School Board Journal, Oct. 1894, v. 6, p. 58.
1884 Sibley Pencil Sharpener.jpg (44049 bytes)
Hoffman Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 by Joseph Hoffman, New York, NY.
See discussion under Rice pencil sharpener (above).
1884_Hoffman_Pencil_Sharpener_patent_illustration.jpg (35817 bytes)
Stimpson Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 ~ Advertised 1885
George Frost & Co.
Boston, MA
1884 Stimpson Pencil Sharpener.jpg (58194 bytes)
Keller Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 by F. G. Keller, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1884_F_G_Keller_27254.jpg (39599 bytes)
Moore Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 by Thomas Moore, London, England
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1884_T_Moore_London_ps_28856.jpg (49860 bytes)
Keller Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1884 by F. G. Keller, Germany
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1884_F_G_Keller_ps_29411.jpg (50195 bytes)
Schaller Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1885 by Georg Schaller, Zurich, Switz.
There is no evidence whether this was marketed.
1885_G_Schaller_Zurich_30690.jpg (34475 bytes)
Lamson Pencil Sharpener (a.k.a. Dixon's Pencil Sharpener)
Patented 1885 ~ Advertised 1885-89
Joseph Dixon Crucible Co.
 Jersey City, NJ
1885_Dixon_Lamson_Front_NNCT.jpg (40977 bytes)
Stimpson Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1886 ~ Advertised 1886
George Frost & Co.
Boston, MA
1886 Stimpson Pencil Sharpener.jpg (79761 bytes)
Gem Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1886 ~ Advertised 1887-1918
Gould & Cook, Leominster, MA (1887-93)
F. H. Cook & Co., Leominster, MA (1893-1902)
"Gould & Cook started business in 1884...These gentlemen are the inventors and owners of the Gem Pencil Sharpener, which is considered by teachers, who have the most occasion to test an article of this kind, as the simplest and best in the market." (William A. Emerson, Leominister Massachusetts Historical and Picturesque, Gardner, MA, 1888, p. 271.)
1886_Gould__Cook_Gem_Crank_Side.jpg (49653 bytes)
Acme Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1886 ~ Advertised 1887
Eagle Pencil Co.
New York, NY
1886_Acme_Pencil_Sharpener_open_zz.JPG (13542 bytes)
Forrester Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1887 (US Patent No. 372,258) ~ On market 1887-91
Samuel Forrester, Allegheny, PA

There are two earlier Forrester pencil sharpener patents, the first in 1884 (US Patent No. 310,041) and the second in 1885 (US Patent No. 332,146). The patent diagrams are posted below:

1884 Forrester Pencil Sharpener US310041-0 detail OM.jpg (56069 bytes)
1884 Patent Diagram

1885 Forrester Pencil Sharpener US332146-0 OM.jpg (56069 bytes)
1885 Patent Diagram

The Columbus OH Board of Education spent $126 purchasing 21 Forrester pencil sharpeners during the year ending Aug. 31, 1887. We cannot determine the Forrester patent(s) on which these machines were based.
The New York Board of Eduction spent $72 purchasing 12 Forrester pencil sharpeners in April 1889, and the billhead has an image of the model based on the 1887 patent.
The Harrisburg Telegraph, Harrisburg, PA, Nov. 7, 1891, states, "The Committee on Supplies recommended the purchase of six Forrester's pencil sharpeners...for use in the schools. Agreed to."
1887_Forrester_Pencil_Sharpener_side.jpg (56069 bytes)
Machine based on 1887 patent
President Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1888 ~ Advertised 1890-92
The Baltimore Specialty Co.
Baltimore, MD
1888 President Side TFCT.jpg (17774 bytes)
Dixon's Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1889
Joseph Dixon Crucible Co.
 Jersey City, NJ
1889_Dixon.jpg (66689 bytes)
Unique Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1889 ~ Advertised/Marketed 1887-90
E. L. Kellogg & Co.
New York, NY and Chicago, IL
1889 Unique Pencil Sharpener.jpg (41218 bytes)
Franklin Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1889
New York News Co. (manufacturer's agent)
1889 Franklin Pencil Sharpener.jpg (64199 bytes)
Unique Pencil Sharpener
Advertised/Marketed 1890-94
E. L. Kellogg & Co.
New York, NY and Chicago, IL
1891 Unique Pencil Sharpener.jpg (18094 bytes)
Perfect Pencil Pointer
Patented 1890 ~ Advertised 1890-1913
The Perfect Pencil Pointer Co., Portland, ME (to 1892)
Goodell Co., Antrim, NH (1892 on)
1890 Perfect OM.JPG (22794 bytes)
Dollar Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1890 ~ Advertised 1891-92
Samuel C. Tatum Co.
Cincinnati, OH
1890 Dollar Pencil Sharpener.jpg (53997 bytes)
Mills Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1891 ~ Advertised 1891-92
Mills Pencil Sharpener Co.
Cincinnati, OH

Mills 1 OM.jpg (40263 bytes)     Mills 5 OM.jpg (33882 bytes)
1891 Mills Pencil Sharpener.jpg (59181 bytes)
Perfect Pencil Pointer
Advertised 1892
Goodell Co., Antrim, NH
Same as 1890 model but metal base.
Manufactured with wooden vertical supports (top photo)
and metal vertical supports (bottom photo).
1892_Perfect_Pencil_Pointer_-_metal_base.jpg (349751 bytes)
1892_Perfect_Pencil_Pointer_Metal_Base_3.JPG (65793 bytes)
Shipherd Pencil Sharpening Device
Patented 1893
William C. Shipherd (Patentee), Cleveland, OH
Separate knife used to shave pencil not shown
Photograph courtesy of Robert Kwalwasser
1893 Shipherd Pencil Sharpening Device OM.jpg (42545 bytes)
Andrews Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1893-94
Andrews School Furnishing Co.
New York, NY.

This machine was designed to sharpen slate pencils.
1894 Andrews Pencil Sharpener.jpg (86090 bytes)
Andrews Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1895-96
Andrews School Furnishing Co.
New York, NY
1895 Andrews Pencil Sharpener ad OM.jpg (88488 bytes)
Peerless Pencil Pointer
Introduced 1895 ~ Patented 1896 ~ Advertised 1896-1902
The Walker Mfg. Co.
Chicago, IL
1895_Peerless_Pencil_Pointer_OM.jpg (39902 bytes)
Planetary Pencil Pointer
Patented 1896 ~ Advertised 1896-1915
A. B. Dick Co.
Chicago, IL & New York, NY
Planetary Top OM.jpg (25483 bytes)
Combination Eraser Cleaner and Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1897 ~ Advertised 1897-1918
(The eraser cleaner without the pencil sharpener attachment was advertised in 1924.)
Lord Manufacturing Co., New Haven, CT
Sold with wheel for cleaning blackboard erasers and/or wheel for sharpening pencils. 
Photograph shows machine with pencil sharpening wheel.
Photograph courtesy of Dennis A. Traverso
1897 Combination OM.jpg (26265 bytes)
Jupiter Pencil Pointer
Patented 1897 ~ Advertised 1899-1914
Guhl & Harbeck Co.
Hamburg, Germany
The US sales agent was Favor, Ruhl & Co, New York, NY
1897_Jupiter_Guhl__Harbeck_Hamburg_Germany.jpg (48339 bytes)
Upright Pencil Sharpener
Advertised 1897-1901
Upright Machine Co.
Paterson, NJ
1897 Upright Pencil Sharpener.jpg (48024 bytes)
1897_Improved_Upright_Pencil_Sharpener_OM.jpg (11453 bytes)
Lincoln Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1898
Sylvester Decatur Lincoln, Evanston, IL, Inventor
Photograph courtesy of Howard Levin
1898_Lincoln_pencil_sharpener_h_levin.jpg (48020 bytes)
Webster Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1900-10 ~ Advertised 1898-1914
F. S. Webster Co.
Boston, MA
The machine illustrated in the 1892 patent listed on the machine is different; there is no evidence that it was ever marketed. 
The models produced are those illustrated in the 1900 and 1910 patents.

1905_Webster_Pencil_Sharpener_inside_view_1_OM.jpg (40263 bytes)     1905_Webster_Pencil_Sharpener_inside_view_2_OM.jpg (33882 bytes)
webstersideCT.jpg (16562 bytes)
Ideal Pencil Sharpener
Patented 1900 ~ Advertised 1899
J. M. Olcott & Co.
New York, NY
1899 Ideal Pencil Sharpener.jpg (56206 bytes)
Close But Not Quite  
Crayon Sharpener
Patented 1899 by J. J. Fraser.  Patent No. 625,878.
U.S.
Identification by Howard Levin
Early_Pencil_Sharpener_perhaps_patented_May_1899.jpg (41650 bytes)

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