For Percival it was the Holy Grail; Dr. Kimble, the one-armed man. For Ponce de Leon? To find the Fountain of Youth; for Cantor, to map the Continuum.
Me? The Alpheus Music Writer.
Alpheus Music of Hollywood, California, was in part a supply store for music copyists. Prior to the desktop-publishing revolution, composers and arrangers of every sort could buy manuscript paper, ink, dip pens, straight edges, templates, and everything else a musician might need for their parts, charts, and scores. There was also a store-branded pencil called the Music Writer, reputedly a favorite among many composers and arrangers, including Leonard Bernstein.
In the following photo of Bernstein’s pencils (or “little soldiers” as he called them) you can see mixed in with the Eberhard Faber Blackwing stubs several Music Writers as well:
Photo: Bernstein Estate
Alpheus Music would eventually close its doors, and so too the silver Music Writer slipped slowly beneath the waves. I haven’t any idea how many there might still be tucked away in boxes and desk drawers, so I feel very fortunate to have these three:
As you can see, the finish isn’t very smooth and the ends of the pencils seem roughly cut. In fact the color and feel of the pencils reminds me a little of the Musgrave 100 Test Scoring Pencil, which leads me to admit that I don’t (yet) know who manufactured these pencils for Alpheus Music. But there’s a coda to this story.
A music copyist who worked for Cameo Music, Judy Green, eventually became one of the owners of Alpheus Music. By 1980 she started her own music copying company, called Judy Green Music, and offered a pencil called the Judy Green Music Writer.
Judy Green passed away in 2007, but Judy Green Music still provides music copying supplies under the aegis of All-Print U.S.A. This successor to the Alpheus pencil is a very smooth writer and has a thick lead which, again, is similar to the Musgrave 100 Test Scorer. Are they the same? I don’t know. But until Faber-Castell relents and gives my proposal for a new music pencil a try¹ (or at least lets me order a bunch for myself²) …
(This isn’t an actual product)
… pencils like the Alpheus Music Writer and the Aztec Scoremaster 101 will remain reminders of a bygone era.
Thanks to George for the Music Writers!
² Not kidding so much.