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By David Haberstich, January 18, 1994


Robert Scofield Condon, born in Bloomington, Illinois, March 5, 1896, attended Bloomington, Ill., Normal School and was a schoolteacher for several years to earn money for college tuition; he was graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Illinois, 1924. He married Catherine Behren in 1924, but she died in 1958. Condon was employed by the Kearney & Trecker Corp., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1924-1929, then the Gleason Gear Works, Rochester, New York, 1929-1936. He was one of eighty engineers when he joined the engineering department of the Gleason Gear Works, but was one of only two remaining in 1934. The Condons spent fifteen years in Rutland, Vermont (1936-1946), where he was a founder of the Fibre Can Machinery Corp., which was later sold to the Continental Can Co. He was employed by the Continental Can Corp. from 1946 to 1960 (the Rutland plant closed in the early 1950s, but Condon continued working for the firm in other locations). After his retirement in 1960, he continued to work on projects and did consulting work. His last project was the small "Marvel" pencil pointer (flashlight).

Condon's second wife was Ilza de Souza. He died on April 22, 1973, leaving his son, Robert B. Condon, and two grandchildren. The professional papers in this collection apparently were in Robert S. Condon's possession until his death, when his son acquired them and donated them to the Smithsonian in 1991.

An obituary for Robert Scofield appeared in the Bennington Banner, April 26, 1973. The donor provided notes from this obituary for this biographical note.

Scope and Content

The approximately 2 cubic feet of material contain copies of patents issued to Robert Scofield Condon for pencil lead pointers, pencil sharpeners, milling machines, gear cutting machines, and similar devices, as well as correspondence related to the patents. Photographs depict Condon designs and inventions.


The archival papers were donated to the Archives Center by the inventor's son, Robert B. Condon. Objects that accompanied these archival materials were acquired by the Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering.

Container List

Box 1, Material relating to Don Rice/Wooden Bowl Machinery.

Box 2, Documents relating to Marvel Pencil Pointer.

Box 3, Research notes on patents relating to pencil pointers.

Box 4, Robert Scofield Condon's patents:

    Folder 1, Correspondence with patent attorney on pencil pointer; 2, Correspondence with Alexander and Dowell, summarizing Condon's activities; 3, Patents [list on RBC inventory].

Box 5, Patent data, correspondence, 1936-1942.

Box 6, Other documents.

    Folder 1, Report, "Selection of Spur Gear Tooth Sizes with Respect to Both Strength and Wear," 2 copies; 2, Report, "Determining Gear Tooth Sizes through the Use of Graphs" (2 copies, 1 sent to Machinery Magazine); 3, Report, "Improving a Small Spur Gear by Cutting It" (2 copies, 1 sent to Machinery Magazine; 4, Compilations of gear designs; 5, Photo prints and negatives of R.S.C. designs (approx. 50); 6, Compilations of milling machine designs; 7, Photo prints of Continental Can Corp. projects (approx. 65); 8, Photo prints, Fibre Can Machinery Corp. (approx. 65); 9, (Jigs sent to Division of Mechanical and Civil Engineering)


Scott W. Schwartz
Archives Center Webmaster
Revised: June 19, 2003