My Collection – Photos and Commentary

Nostalgia

On this, my 50th birthday, allow me to engage in a bit of personal nostalgia — pencil-related, of course.

My earliest memory of brand-name pencils is the thick round General’s Blue Boy issued to us in first grade.   In third grade, students earned their first “grown-up” pencils by demonstrating good handwriting skills.  It was a big deal, and I was frustrated at being one of the last kids to achieve this milestone –

We got a classic yellow pencil, the Ravenwood by Reliance.  This was the official brand for the rest of elementary school.  It was a revelation to me when I discovered that it came in different lead hardnesses.  My interest in pencils was piqued, but I was not yet a collector.

Then, in sixth grade, I picked up an odd object on the playground —

It was obviously a pencil, but very different from a Ravenwood — two colors, a different metal part, and a really strange “2A” lead number.  Intriguing!  Fascinating!  I kept it.  I can pinpoint my becoming a PENCIL COLLECTOR to this event, this pencil, thirty-eight years ago.  But I still don’t know what that “A” signifies.

After that, I would ask my classmates, “Can I trade for that pencil?” when they were holding a pencil that I needed.  I was also an avid scavenger, always scanning the ground for dropped pencils.  I am not sure why, but on rainy days I could always find several pencils on the school grounds.

Junior High in the 70’s was a hotbed of pencil fighting, and I was there to pick up the pieces —

In high school, I constructed this display of my pencils:

It is a presswood board with 840 holes I made with a hand drill.  I used clear nylon fishing line to tie up the pencils.  I was very proud of that thing.  I put it on my bedroom wall and could hardly stop looking at it.

In the summer of 1980, I displayed my collection in the hobby exhibit at the San Diego County Fair.  My sister had won First Place honors there for her troll collection, and I wanted the same glory.  I did win a First, which was great.  Something bad happened, though.  The display was covered with a sheet of clear plastic, but someone worked one of the pencils out and stole it.  I lost all faith in humanity that day, along with my irreplaceable, square-shaped, dark metallic blue, MechaMania Boy pencil from Japan.

Also at the Fair, I received a note inviting me to join the American Pencil Collectors Society, which I was excited to do.  In accordance with proper etiquette, I had Member pencils made and traded them —

(I am not currently trading any pencils.)

Finally, here are pencils from some places where I have worked:

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4 responses

  1. Thanks for this very interesting post. It makes me wonder what I missed during those same years, when so many great pencils were still being made in America.

    February 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

  2. Happy birthday! You are so young 😉

    February 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm

  3. Donna

    Hi Fred, Happy Belated!!!! Was surprised to see Poway High, I’m in San Diego, Tierrasanta area. Are there any local groups or meetings?
    Donna

    March 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    • I am not aware of any groups or meetings in California catering to collectors of wooden pencils. Nationally, there is the American Pencil Collectors Society and their bi-annual convention. I haven’t been to any (fountain) pen shows, but I imagine there are some mechanical pencils at those.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

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