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102546 | UNITED STATES. American Lead Pencil Company copper Printing Plate.

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    102546  |  UNITED STATES. American Lead Pencil Company copper Printing Plate. Manufactured circa 1868-1872 (183mm x 133mm, 1.335 kg).


    One side of 11 medals stacked in a fashion that foreshortens outward from the middle; the middle medal (with the bust of Napoléon III) serving as the obverse of various award medals associated with the 1867 World's Fair in Paris. Other reverses of the 1867 Paris World's Fair medals are observed, along with that of the 1862 London World's Fair; also present is an uncertain reverse (to the far) left, which reads "ERICAN / PENCILS / 867," must stand for an unknown award for American (...) Pencils, 1867.


    Essentially as Made. Some signs of use, and some scattered punches or digs on the back. A very interesting and possibly unique piece of advertising paraphernalia with a strong exonumia tie-in.


    While we have yet to confirm that this printing plate was, in fact, used for the American Lead Pencil Co., there is strong evidence that it was used by, or at least, meant for, this firm. The company won a bronze medal at the 1867 expo in Paris, having been founded in 1860, though nothing can be located for any participation at the 1862 expo in London. Nevertheless, later packaging from the firm is eerily similar to that which would have been printed here. Namely, the usage of a union shield (the "stars and bars"-style shield), the heavy usage of wreaths and scroll work, and the presence of prior medals won by the firm. Here is an image of packaging used by the firm in the early 20th century, likely just after the 1904 expo in St. Louis, for its "Velvet" brand of pencils. Of note, there is a similar union shield, similar usage of wreaths and scrollwork (though dialed back somewhat given the art trends of the time), and a strikingly similar usage of won medals splayed out as well. In this case, the reverse of the gold medal won by the firm at the 1900 expo in Paris is in the prime position, with other, more generic representations of medals, to either side. Given this extreme similarity in iconography, it seems incredibly likely that this plate served as an early form of printing paraphernalia for the firm.


    Upload: 15 September 2023.

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