Pencils collection will prove a draw at auction

A collection of 1,400 pencils, some dating from the 18th century, are to be sold by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson and Garland

Telescopic pencils, lot 367 circa 1820, solid gold
Telescopic pencils, lot 367 circa 1820, solid gold

When Dave Wilson was deciding what his next collecting passion would be, he could draw on years of experience.

Mr Wilson, from Wallsend in North Tyneside, had spent years collecting stamps and then moved on to fobs from pocket watch chains, building up a collection of around 3,000.

But his next great collecting adventure was even more offbeat as he set out to amass an array of propelling pencils.

Dating from the 18th century, propelling pencils have a replaceable and mechanically extendable solid writing or drawing core which is not bonded to the outer casing and can be extended as its point is worn away.

Today, Mr Wilson’s collection of 1,400 propelling pencils will be sold by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson and Garland.

Mr Wilson, who worked as an estimating engineer at Newcastle’s Parsons factory, died late last year. He particularly sought out 19th century pencils and his collection includes silver, gold, enamel and ivory pieces from countries such as Britain, the United States, Russia and France.

There are also very early Georgian examples, as well as pieces by the famous company of Sampson Mordan & Co Ltd, pioneers of early mechanical pencils.


Mr Wilson’s daughter, Michelle Watson, said: “Collecting became a real passion for dad and one which he got many hours of enjoyment from.

“He was a bit of a magpie. He would go off on day trips by train.

“We couldn’t get over how he amassed such an amazing collection of propelling pencils. They are lovely items and in their day they would have made good gifts for people.

“He was very much an enthusiast and was attracted by the variation, intricate designs and elaborate colours of the pencils.

“Although it was emotional to put them up for sale, it is not right that they should be stored away rarely seeing the light of day, and therefore it is a fitting tribute to him that the collection should be passed on to others who share his interest.

In the sale are a 9ct gold pencil by Sampson Mordan with enamelled calendar to the stem, £200; a set of three silver-cased pencils with coloured enamel terminals made by John Vicary in 1916, £150; a telescopic pencil, enamelled and gilt with fleur de lys, in its original box, by the French company of Leuchars, Paris, £120.

There are also commemorative pencils celebrating the coronations of George V, Edward VIII and George VI, and the coronation and Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Fred Wryley-Birch, from auctioneers Anderson and Garland, said: “This is a particularly impressive collection and one which is certain to generate much interest. Many of the items featured – especially those by renowned company Sampson Mordan – are quite exquisite and it is clear to see the passion and enthusiasm which Mr Wilson had for his hobby.

“His family are hopeful that someone who shares his zeal will continue to add to the collection and pre-sale interest suggests that will indeed be the case.”

The earliest example of a mechanical pencil was found aboard the wreckage of HMS Pandora, which sank in 1791.

The first patent for a refillable pencil with lead-propelling mechanism was issued to Sampson Mordan and John Isaac Hawkins in Britain in 1822.


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