In Praise of the Pencil

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.
— Vincent Van Gogh

In Praise of the Pencil - Pencil Sketch

It started with you,
Warm and light, planes coated yellow
Faint scent of sun and sap rising
From your curled edges
Core crumbling against keen steel
Soft shadows on my fingertips
With you, my words whisper
Thoughtforms bloom on paper
The rest of the world falls silent
As I hold you, and we dance.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Celebrating the Essential Ordinary

Celebrating the Essential Ordinary

Every 30th of March we honor one of the most ubiquitous yet key tools in human history. National Pencil Day pays tribute to the pencil, honoring this particular day in 1858, when Hymen Lipman patented the modern pencil. It was a wooden graphite pencil with a rubber eraser attached, replacing lumps of old bread previously used for removing mistakes. This day commemorates the invention of this essential instrument, and serves as an opportunity for us — to recognize the importance of the pencil in our daily lives and its role in shaping human civilization, to appreciate the simplicity and effectiveness of this timeless invention that has stood the test of time despite technological advancements.

The pencil’s history dates back centuries, its origins rooted in ancient civilizations such as the Romans, who used a stylus made of lead to write on papyrus. The modern pencil as we know it today can be traced back to the late 16th century when graphite was discovered in Borrowdale, England. Initially mistaken for a form of lead, graphite proved to be an excellent material for writing due to its smooth texture and ability to leave dark marks on paper.

In Praise of the Pencil - Pencil Manuscript

The first mass production of pencils began in England in 1564, using graphite wrapped in string or inserted into wooden holders. However, it wasn't until the late 18th century that the pencil gained widespread popularity with the discovery of a method to encase graphite in cedar wood, creating the familiar wooden pencil design still used today.

The significance of the pencil extends far beyond its practical use as a writing instrument. It has become a symbol of creativity, innovation, and education. Pencils are essential tools for artists, architects, engineers, students, and professionals across various fields. Its versatility allows for sketching, drafting, note-taking, and artistic expression.

In Praise of the Pencil - Pencil Drawing

Celebrating National Pencil Day can take many forms — from sharing interesting facts about pencils to organizing drawing contests or simply taking a moment to reflect on the impact of this humble yet indispensable tool. Many schools, museums, and art organizations hold events or workshops centered around the pencil, highlighting its historical significance and encouraging creativity with its use.

National Pencil Day likewise supports environmental consciousness by promoting the use of sustainable and eco-friendly pencils made from recycled materials or certified sustainable wood. It reminds us to cherish and preserve our natural resources while continuing to innovate in the realm of writing instruments. This is the time to honor the legacy of the pencil and its enduring relevance in an ever-changing world. Whether used for writing or drawing, the pencil continues to inspire and empower individuals of all ages and backgrounds, making it worthy of celebration and appreciation.

In Praise of the Pencil - Innovating the Traditional

Innovating the Traditional

Mechanical pencils offer an advanced alternative to traditional wooden pencils, with their convenience, precision, and reusability. Unlike their wooden counterparts, mechanical pencils use a refillable mechanism to extend and retract a thin graphite or lead core, eliminating the need for constant sharpening.

One of the key advantages of mechanical pencils is their consistent line width. With traditional pencils, the thickness of the line can vary depending on how sharp the tip is. In contrast, mechanical pencils maintain a consistent line width throughout use, making them ideal for technical drawing, drafting, and finer handwriting.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Thin Lead Mechanical Pencil

Another benefit is their durability. Traditional wooden pencil points can become dull quickly and require frequent sharpening, leading to waste and inconvenience. On the other hand, mechanical pencils feature a refillable lead reservoir that ensures a continuous supply of writing material, reducing the need for whole replacements and minimizing waste.

Additionally, mechanical pencils offer versatility in line thickness and lead hardness. We can choose from a variety of lead sizes and grades to suit our specific needs, whether for fine detail work or bold strokes. Some mechanical pencils even allow for interchangeable colored leads, expanding their utility for artistic and creative purposes.

Some designs are also favored for their ergonomic design and comfortable grip, making extended use more comfortable by reducing hand fatigue. Many models feature retractable tips and pocket clips, making them convenient for on-the-go use and storage. Others even have mechanisms that rotate the lead core as you write, allowing for a consistent and crisp line.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Pencil Leads

Furthermore, mechanical pencils are environmentally friendly alternatives. While traditional pencils rely on wood for their bodies and generate waste from sharpening, mechanical pencils can be reused with lead refills, minimizing environmental impact on timber resources.

In Praise of the Pencil - Pencil Sharpener

(All of that being said, there is something personally nostalgic about using a traditional wooden pencil — sharpening it feels almost like a ritual, the wood shavings curling as a new collar is revealed, and the refreshing scent rising from its body, holding it in my hand as I write or sketch… All of it feels comforting. Honestly though, my everyday-carry is still a mechanical pencil for its convenience. Yes, we could enjoy both experiences, and let our preferences influence their use.)

 

EndlessPens Celebrates Pencils

We love pencils, whether traditional or mechanical. They are stalwart companions for our trusty fountain pens. So for National Pencil Day, here is a selection of innovative pencils, leveled up and raring to accompany you in your creative journey —

 

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Kaweco Mechanical Pencil

 

Kaweco Mechanical Pencil in Black – Using 0.7mm lead and with an eraser, this model is suitable for precise and graphic drawing. Thanks to the pleasant body diameter of about 10 mm, this pencil lies particularly well in the hand and does not tire you when you write. Its high-quality and precise mechanics come from Japan. The high-quality aluminum gives this writing instrument its special feel and the silk-gloss surface underlines its simplicity.

 

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Retro 51 Tornado Mechanical Pencil

 

Retro 51 Tornado Mechanical Pencil in Stainless – Unlock the secret to effortless precision with Retro 51's Tornado pencil, a sophisticated writing tool crafted for the ultimate in accuracy and ease. Featuring a smooth 1.15mm lead, the pencil operates with the simple twist of its top, while an impressive eraser on top allows easy corrections. Presented in an attractive tube with extra lead and erasers, the Tornado pencil is the perfect choice for an elegant, luxuriously refined writing experience.

 

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Sailor Pro Gear Mechanical Pencil

 

Sailor Pro Gear Mechanical Pencil in Rhodium – Using 0.7 mm lead, this pencil embodies Sailor Pro Gear’s iconic design, with a cut-away cap and inlaid Sailor anchor logo on the top.

 

 

In Praise of the Pencil - LAMY 2000 Black Markolon Mechanical Pencil

 

LAMY 2000 Black Markolon Mechanical Pencil – In Black Makrolon, this pencil echoes the timeless Bauhaus design of its fountain pen counterpart. A classic yet still one of the most modern writing instruments today, made of fiberglass and stainless steel, with a matte, brushed finish holding 0.7 mm (M 40) lead, and Z 10 eraser with cleaning needle. A 0.5 mm variant is also available.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Retro 51 Tornado Alice in Wonderland Mechanical Pencil

 

Retro 51 Tornado Alice in Wonderland Mechanical Pencil – Fall down the rabbit hole with Retro 51’s newest 1.15 mm Mechanical Pencil! Immerse yourself in the magic of Lewis Carroll's timeless tale with each pencil adorned with captivating Alice in Wonderland graphics set against a glow-in-the dark barrel. Whether you're jotting down notes, doodling on the margins, or simply admiring the exquisite illustrations, these Literary Tornados™ are sure to spark your imagination and add a touch of wonder to your everyday writing experience. Presented in a charming book-style gift box, each mechanical pencil comes complete with a matching bookmark adorned with a delightful red tassel. Unlock your own whimsical adventures in Wonderland with Alice in hand. This model is a numbered edition for 2024.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Kaweco AL Sport Mechanical Pencil

 

Kaweco AL Sport Mechanical Pencil in Anthracite and Black – This series of mechanical pencils holds lead with a line width of 0.7 mm. The Kaweco refills have the medium hardness level HB. Its high-quality and precise mechanics come from Japan. The metallic body made of high-quality aluminum gives this writing instrument its special feel, and comes in contemporary colors.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - LAMY ABC Mechanical Pencil

 

LAMY ABC Mechanical Pencil – With LAMY’s help, children learn to write systematically. First step is the LAMY ABC Beginner’s Mechanical Pencil. Then comes the LAMY ABC Beginner’s fountain pen using ink. Both instruments are designed for children, from an ergonomic as well as a pedagogical perspective. This makes writing both easy and fun. Made with maple wood, vibrant and shiny plastic, non-slip rubber-coated plastic grip section, and an easy-twist mechanism, this model is perfect for little hands. With LAMY M 44 (1.4 mm) pencil lead.

 

In Praise of the Pencil - Retro 51 Tornado Rescue Cat #5 Mechanical Pencil

 

Retro 51 Tornado Rescue Cat #5 Mechanical Pencil – Embrace the playful and lovable spirit of cats with the newest Cat Rescue writing instruments from Retro 51. These Tornados showcase irresistibly cute cat illustrations – where every stroke becomes a delightful expression of feline charm. With this 1.15 mm pencil, you'll find the same playful and lovable spirit of cats infused into your daily writing experience. Each pencil is silk-screened with the playful cats and then coated in a gloss clear coat and finished with Stealth Black accents. With each purchase, a contribution will be made to Take Me Home Pet Rescue, a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing homeless pet overpopulation and finding loving homes for rescued animals. Adopt the Cat Rescue today and provide it with a forever home, where it'll bring years of enjoyment to your writing endeavors. If you’re more of a dog person, Retro 51 Rescue Dog #5 Mechanical Pencil, is perfect!

 

These are just some of the choices to help you enjoy the experience of writing or drawing with a pencil. So go ahead, take your pick and let those ideas flow!

In Praise of the Pencil - Writing With A Pencil

“And, most important of all," added the Mathemagician, "here is your own magic staff. Use it well and there is nothing it cannot do for you." He placed in Milo's breast pocket a small gleaming pencil which, except for the size, was much like his own.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Happy National Pencil Day!

In Praise of the Pencil - Happy National Pencil Day!

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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!

Author: Lekz

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