December 31, 2012

Pencil safe for Soapy Smith?

Pencil safe
Jeff Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)

t  is a well-established fact that Soapy Smith wrote an enormous amount of letters during his lifetime. He also kept daily notes in notebooks and made notations on business cards he collected. Some of these scribblings are in ink (another post for the future) but many are in pencil, away from home and sometimes from civilization. It seems rather logical to assume that he carried a pencil on his person, rather than constantly asking and hoping others had one he could borrow. Today, we take pencils and writing paper for granted as most households have drawers filled with them. Looking at the Soapy Smith collection of documents there is one known surviving sample of business stationary for the Tivoli Club in Denver but the greater portion of the letters are written on the business stationary of other firms, justifying the fact that Soapy was probably not at home when writing the many of his letters.

Close-up of pencil safe relief
Race-horse and wine bottle
Jeff Smith collection
(Click image to enlarge)

Did Soapy carry a pencil? If he did he probably picked up, or was given, a "pencil safe" like the one shown above. The safe protected the sharpened pencil lead from breaking, as well as protected the clothing, other documents, and the body itself, from puncture. I had never given Soapy writing utensils much thought until I saw and purchased the one shown. Any opinions on this?

Close-up of pencil safe relief
Dancing girl (belly dancer?) and playing cards
Jeff Smith collection
   (Click image to enlarge)

“No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying,
in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday.”
—Alexander Pope


1775: The British repulse an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery is killed in the battle.
1841: The state of Alabama enacts the first dental legislation in the U.S.
1852: The richest year of the California gold rush produces $81.3 million in gold.
1862: U.S. President Lincoln signs an act admitting West Virginia to the Union.
1873: Four soldiers of Company B, 25th Infantry are attacked by Indians at Eagle Spring Texas. One Indian is wounded.
1877: U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes is the first to celebrate his silver (25th) wedding anniversary in the White House.
1879: Thomas Edison gives his first public demonstration of incandescent lighting in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1891: New York's new Immigration Depot is opened at Ellis Island, to provide improved facilities for the massive numbers of arrivals.
1897: The city of Brooklyn, New York, is absorbed by the city of New York.

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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith