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Alteneder model 500

Alteneder Model 500 “Draftsman's and Artist's Pencil”

(early, smoothly tapering nosepiece)

Theodore Alteneder & Sons, Philadelphia

lead diameter
mechanism
composition
variations
production date
origin
0.062 to 0.085 inches (~ 2 mm)
twist lock clutch
snakewood barrel, nickel silver fittings, steel clutch
optional pocket clip
1927 to (1950s)
USA
   
special features replaceable eraser, exceptional materials
see also US Patent 1,745,226 "Chuck Type Pencil," 1927
Alteneder catalog, 1937-1938, p 5
B.K. Elliot catalog, 1938, page 257

The Alteneder drafting pencil is exceptionally crafted. This leadholder differs from most in that it was manufactured by a drafting tool maker and so is constructed using the methods and materials of fine drawing instruments. Its price was five times that of a typical refillable drafting pencil.

Printed on the ferrule in tiny letters is, “THEO. ALTENEDER & SONS PHILA.” There are no markings on the barrel which, like nearly everything about this leadholder, is unusual for a drafting pencil. As leadholders evolved from wood cased pencils, one feature they retained was the prominent imprint. This pencil is stylistically akin to the old style dividers and compasses with their elegant sculptural qualities.

The Alteneder leadholder was highly innovative drafting pencil. It was the first to introduce precision machined steel clutch jaws designed to grip the lead over a wide area. This feature would later become standard on all leadholders. Prior to this innovation, popular clutch pencils, such as the A.W. Faber Artist's Pencil, gripped the lead with the thin, curved tip of the jaws. It was also the first to have a wide, metal finger grip. This feature would, decades later, be standard on most leadholders. According to the patent for this leadholder, it was also the first clutch pencil to have an adaptable means of indicating what lead degree was being used in the leadholder. This was accomplished via interchangeable chuck sleeves each imprinted with a unique lead degree designation. The method was inefficient, however, and was abandoned. The examples pictured on this page have no degree indication.

An interesting anecdote was passed along to me from a naval architect who tried to order one of these pencils from Alteneder in the early 1970's only to be told they were no longer available as the machinist who made them had recently retired.


Note: missing detachable pocket clip; eraser not original.

Alteneder Model 500 “Draftsman's and Artist's Pencil”

(angular nosepiece)

Theodore Alteneder & Sons, Philadelphia

lead diameter
mechanism
composition
variations
production date
origin
0.062 to 0.085 inches (~ 2 mm)
twist lock clutch
snakewood barrel, nickel silver fittings, steel clutch
none
(1950s) to 1970s
USA
   
special features replaceable eraser, exceptional materials
see also US Patent 1,745,226 “Chuck Type Pencil,” 1927
Alteneder catalog, 1952, p 3
J.H. Weil & Co., 1953, p 211
Alteneder boxAlteneder packaging. This packaging was used for Alteneder pencils as well as other tools such as ruling pens.
Alteneder 501 (late model)

Alteneder Model 501 “Draftsman's and Artist's Pencil”

(late, angular nosepiece)

Theodore Alteneder & Sons, Philadelphia

lead diameter
mechanism
composition
variations
production date
origin
0.062 to 0.085 inches (~ 2 mm)
twist lock clutch
snakewood barrel, nickel silver fittings, steel clutch
none
(1950s) to 1970s
USA
   
special features steel needle original in one end
see also US Patent 1,745,226 “Chuck Type Pencil,” 1927
Alteneder catalog, 1952, p 3
J.H. Weil & Co., 1953, p 211
Defiance Sales Corp. catalog, 1955, p 250
Alteneder Model 500
  courtesy Glen Day collection

Alteneder Model 502 “Draftsman's and Artist's Pencil”

(angular nosepiece)

Theodore Alteneder & Sons, Philadelphia

lead diameter
mechanism
composition
variations
production date
origin
0.062 to 0.085 inches (~ 2 mm)
twist lock clutch
snakewood barrel, nickel silver grip, steel clutch, plastic cap
cap color: black, blue, green, red, white
(1950s) to 1970s
USA
   
special features exceptional materials
see also US Patent 1,745,226 “Chuck Type Pencil,” 1927
Alteneder catalog, 1952, p 3
J.H. Weil & Co., 1953, p 211
Defiance Sales Corp. catalog, 1955, p 250 (incorrect picture)