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Claude Hintonís
Great Pencil Collection

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
Back in 1969, The Gonzales Inquirer ran a feature story about a man named Claude Hinton and his somewhat unique hobby. You see, Claude collected pencils ó over 5,000 of them.

It seems that Hinton had a lot of help accumulating pencils, once his family and friends heard about his hobby they begin to send him the wooden and lead writing instruments every chance they had.

I wonder what ever became of Claude Hinton's great pencil collection?

The following article is complete and reproduced exactly as it appeared over 40 years ago.


The Gonzales Inquirer ē Feb. 20, 1969

Claude Hinton, a native of the community of Wrightsboro but now a confirmed 'city slicker,' has a huge collection of pencils representing every state in the union and many foreign countries at his home in the Rivercrest section of Gonzales.

He has followed this hobby for many years, near 30 to be exact, his first coming from the late Jake Stahl who presented him with a pencil that a salesman had given to him back in 1940.

"Mr. Jake gave me the pencil because he never used any but a real short one that he could stick in his pocket," said Hinton who took the pencil home to begin an interesting hobby lasting into the years.

This collection of over 5,000 pencils has proved quite a problem for the Gonzales man who at one time had them displayed on a card on the walls of his home.

Since the pencils were exposed to the light, the inscriptions on some of them began to fade, so the pencil collector had to take them down and find another way to keep them as he continued adding to them day by day.

"Right now I have them in a small barrel at home," he said, going on to say that if the number keeps growing, he's going to have to find a bigger barrel, and perhaps a bigger house.

Since he was working with the public and since many salesmen visited his place of business, Stahl Brothers, and later his own poultry firm, these friends began to send him pencils they thought he'd like to add to his collection.

Soon he was displaying pencils as long as 18 inches and about an inch in diameter to small ones about the size of a slim match and a bit longer.

Among his prize ones are 28 pencils that he received from Germany from Joe Rivera, an employee of Stahl Brothers, while he was serving in the army during World War II.

"I couldn't read a word on the inscription on the pencils," Hinton said, describing each one as ending with the same letters.

Hinton also has saved two beautiful pencils which were tied with a shipping tag, no wrappings, and mailed from Philadelphia, Pa. by Buster Mohrmann while he was in the service stationed in that city.

Another treasured pencil is shaped like a cigar and is hard to identify as anything but a cigar. This was given him by J.R. Tinsley, Sr., who received it from a candidate for sheriff of Wharton County. He also has pencils which are topped with corn, autos, batteries, and baby chicks. He even has pencils depicting bathing beauties.

Another pencil with a broom in the top was sent to him by the late Loy[e] Lauraine who lost his life while serving his country in the European Theatre during World War II.

Loy[e] was the son of the late Dr. L.J. Lauraine and Mrs. Lauraine, and the families were long-time friends.

Both his granddaughters are always on the lookout for pencils to send to their grandfather. Shelly, 14, is the daughter of Jim and Bessie Fay Gerst, while Mary is the 10-year-old daughter of George and Ruth Randolph, all of Austin.

"If my friends didn't help I couldn't have collected as many pencils, and I am grateful to them for thinking of me and sending me the pencils," said Hinton.

Claude attended the Wrightsboro schools along with his sisters and brothers, and like nearly every other student in the school, enjoyed the walk home in the afternoon with some 20 others who lived in the area.

And he probably wonders what in the world he would have done with these pencils if he'd had them while attending school.


© Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary
August 1, 2010 column
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