Depending on your sense of nostalgia, writing with a pencil can be a “Madeleine moment’. For me, the smell of wood shavings and sharpened graphite can recall the slow walk from the wall-mounted pencil sharpener back to my seat is Mrs. Gordon’s grade three class. The smooth, satisfying feedback of graphite on paper brings back so many memories.
Graphite (also called plumbago or black lead) was mined in Cumbria England during the reign of Elizabeth I, and was used to coat the inside of molds for cannonballs. The soft powder made for smoother, more aerodynamic cannonballs for the British Navy.
We carry many different brands of wooden pencils, mechanical pencils and propelling pencils. Each brand, whether new or old, has its own interesting story because pencil lovers are a passionate lot. A pencil manufacturers are pencil lovers.
Faber-Castell (and their luxury division Graf von Faber-Castell) trace their heritage of pencil making back to 1761, and is still controlled by the family eight generations later. They continue to commit to producing wooden pencils, art pencils and mechanical pencils throughout their range. My favourite is the ‘Perfect Pencil’: a wooden pencil, with an elegant extender, built-in sharpener and metal eraser cap!
Caran d’Ache is a Geneva-based brand of writing instruments. The very name of the company is a transliteration of the Russian word for ‘pencil’! The commitment to the pencil may well be due to the family-owned company’s commitment to heritage and vision.
Yard-o-Led, of Birmingham, England, traces its lineage back to the 1820’s and one of the first patents for propelling pencils. The name comes from an inventive design that stores 12 three inch leads inside the barrel. Thirty-six inches to the yard! Their handmade sterling silver propelling pencils use the traditional thicker lead for writing. Each one is stamped with the hallmarks of British made sterling products and each piece has a unique number on the clip. My Deco 34 is with me all the time!
And no conversation about pencils in the 21st Century would be complete without a mention of Blackwing. Their core range of four different hardness’s, and accessories is crowned by the most innovative of pencil manufacturing and marketing: the Volumes series. Each Volume series is given a number that is conceptual, not consecutive! Vol 55 was inspired by the Golden Ratio and designed using Fibonacci sequence!
If you haven’t tried a pencil in a while, it’s about time.