Boston vs Bostitch

I purchased the pencil sharpener on the right on December 22, 1995 at an Office Depot in Hoover, Alabama. I can't say I remember this but I did, for some grandmotherly reason, tape the receipt to the back of it. I imagine I was staying at my dad's house in Vestavia Hills over that Christmas break. The pencil sharpener cost $11.88 and served me through three and a half more years of architecture school at Auburn and another 16 of domestic life. It did finally stop working this past week and we got the one on the left, a "Stanley-Bostitch Quietsharp Executive" for $16.89. It certainly sounds more impressive and the industrial design, while definitely a failure, also aspires to something more aristocratic than the somber, vaguely Bauhaus horizontal red lines that adorn the Boston. I think the previous version had a textured plastic finish in this spot that simulated orange-peel metal. Perhaps this suggests a predecessor that was die cast? That would've been a beast indeed.

What else have we given up? The Boston was manufactured in North Carolina and, in inflation adjusted dollars, would cost $19.09 now. The Bostitch was made in China and is far quieter than the Boston before its demise, though I don't recall how noisy it was back when Gangsta's Paradise was topping the charts. Regardless of the sonic claims, 22 years has netted us a tidy increase of $2.20 (or ten cents per year) to offshore this particular bit of manufacturing. I doubt pencil sharpeners will make anyplace great again, but it is an interesting little time capsule of low-end consumer appliances.