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: