Searching for information about these old pencil-related items is at best hit-or-miss, at least the way I go about doing it. It comes in fits and starts, and my approach could be likened to an old saying: “a blind man sitting in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.” But brute-force searching and persistence can pay off—after a recent session of poring over more than 1,500 pages of some trade magazines from 1921, I’ve come across what might be one of the first product announcements and ads for this extender:
The text emphasizes that this new clamp eraser design allows for a soft eraser, whereas standard-tipped pencils suffer from the eraser’s tendency to bend or slip out of the ferrule. But the extender wasn’t a stand-alone item, it was paired with a Pocket Mongol:
It’s interesting that the ad copy had yet to reach its more familiar form: the new “clamp” design (patented that same year) wasn’t referred to as such, and “rubber” was still being used instead of “eraser”.
It is a remarkably useful item, but it doesn’t seem to have filtered-down through the decades the same way other accessories did. There was a proliferation of clamp-related items in the early 1920s (more on that in a future post), but perhaps this extender was obsoleted early-on.
It turns out that the “Pocket Mongol”, No. 1582, dates back at least to 1907 but with a different cap:
I’ve also seen this type of cap in catalogs dating back to the late 1800s (4th from right):