This post was written by Reference Archivists Marybeth Kavanagh and Joseph Ditta.
March 30th is National Pencil Day! On this date in 1858 Hymen L. Lipman (1817-1893) of Philadelphia received the first patent for a pencil with an attached eraser. (You can read his application online at this link.)
Dixon Ticonderoga might have a monopoly on the production of the no. 2 pencil today, but there once were numerous producers in the U.S. One of the biggest was the Eagle Pencil Company, founded in New York in 1856 by Bavarian immigrant Daniel Berolzheimer, who opened a shop in Manhattan and a factory in Yonkers. Eventually the operation moved to a complex of buildings on the south side of 14th Street east of Avenue C. (Eagle Pencil is now part of the UK-based Berol Corporation.)
On June 16, 1938, some 850 Eagle Pencil workers walked out on strike to demand a contract and restoration of a recent 10-percent pay cut. They settled with the company seven weeks later, on August 8th. The strike is documented by about eighty images in the Edwin Levick Studio Photograph Collection in the library’s Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections. The Levick collection has been digitized and may be viewed online at Photographs of New York City and Beyond. Here are a few of the more “striking” shots.