A Mechanical Pencil pioneer
Note: The documents listed below was graciously provided by John Keeran, a grandson of Charles R. Keeran.
R. Keeran was a central character in the development of the pencil
industry in Chicago. He was a successful inventor from Bloomington,
Eversharp Pens and Pencils
Around 1913, Keeran took an interest in mechanical pencils. He invented the Eversharp pencil and coined the brand name.
He made a business alliance with the Wahl Adding Machine Company. While at Wahl, he encouraged them to buy the Boston Safety Fountain Pen.
He was forced out of Eversharp in 1917. He fought the high-handed actions of Wahl management for many years.
Wahl sold pens and pencils under the name Eversharp for many years.
After he was forced out of Wahl, Keeran coined the Autopoint name and began making pencils.
Mr. Keeran made a new business alliance with three men -- John Lynn,
Michael Kaufmann, and Frank Deli -- who were pioneering the use of
plastics in the manufacture of mechanical pencils. Lynn, Kaufmann, and Deli had the "Realite Pencil Company." The Realite company went through several incarnations until 1924 when it became the Autopoint Company.
1925, Bakelite became a controlling owner of Autopoint and some of the partners sold out. I don't know if Keeran sold his interest or not. He remained associated with Autopoint for years after that.
Early Eversharp Documentation
Directions for loading Eversharp pencils labeled "Keeran & Company, Bloomington Ill."
Early Eversharp Ad
Eversharp Ad from the September 15
labeled "Keeran & Company, 1417-19 Lytton Building, Chicago, Ill.
The 1928 letter
In 1928, Mr. Keeran wrote to a board member of the Wahl Company seeking redress for the injustices done him. He describes how he came to be making Eversharp pencils, what he did for the Wahl Company while he was associated with them, and the injustices done him. Among his claims are:
a) That he
decided that standard mechanical pencil lead should be be .047" in
diameter. Because of the success of Eversharp pencils, that became the defacto standard size for "thin" mechanical pencil lead. (Note: That size lead is now sold as 1.1mm lead. It is thought to be huge.)
persuaded Wahl to buy the Boston Safety Fountain Pen line. Wahl
successfully sold pens and pencils for many years using the "Eversharp" name.
c) He was
forced to sell out when Wahl failed to manufacture enough pencils to
meet the need, but demanded payment owed them. The new owners then
forced him out.
- 1928 Letter Page 1
- 1928 Letter Page 2
- 1928 Letter Page 3
- 1928 Letter Page 4
- 1928 Letter Page 5
- 1928 Letter Page 6
Mr. Although he is not mentioned by name, `Keeran's account is corroborated by C.A. Frary in an article in
in 1921 although Frary claims that a business slump forced Keeran to sell out to Wahl. That article is:
Frary, C.A. "What We Have Learned Marketing Eversharp."
Printers' Ink. 116(6):3+.
August 11, 1921.
A letter dated December 1917 about Keerans resignation as president of Eversharp
Eversharp trademark is still in use but lots of water has gone over the
dam since 1917. The building show on the letterhead and mentioned in
Mr. Keeran's 1928 letter is now a residential condo.
The 1944 Letter
A brief letter from an attorney about Mr. Keeran's suit against the Wahl Company.
The 1921 Letter
handwritten agreement outlining the terms of a business alliance
between Mr. Keeran and the Realite Pencil Company. Realite was an early
incarnation of Autopoint.
1921 Letter Page 1
1921 Letter Page 2
1921 Letter Page 3
1921 Letter Page 4
The 1924 Memorandum
Outlines Mr. Keeran's relationship with the Autopoint Company.
Cover Letter for the 1924 Memo
1924 Memorandum Page 1
1924 Memorandum Page 2
An early Autopoint Ad found in Mr. Keeran's Papers
Autopoint Ad Page 1
Autopoint Ad Page 2
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-4100
© 2010 by Robert L. Bolin. All rights reserved
Voice: (402) 472-2731 | Email: email@example.com
Version 2.02; Revised, 13 January 2010
Go to Bob Bolin's pencil research page