My Collection – Photos and Commentary

Odds & Errs


From time to time I’ll be exhibiting pencils with errors or odd features, grouped into categories, of course.  This post will feature problems with pencil tips. 

But does “tip” refer to the end of the pencil that may have an eraser (its usual meaning), or to the sharpened end (which seems better described)?  The ambiguity of this term has always bugged me.  I will mean the former, usually.

Missing ferrule:

Missing Ferrule

Wrong end:

Wrong End Pairs

Wrong End Ferrule

Wrong color:

Stabilo-micro Swan


Philatelists are familiar with overprints on old postage stamps.  Often they were used to alter the postal value.  A similar concept was applied to a pencil —


You can see that the original No. 2 imprint was changed to 3 —  

Overprint Detail

Apparently the manufacturer realized that the 2 was an error and made this correction.  Another possibility: They made these to fill a rush order for No. 3s, hoping the customer wouldn’t notice anything suspicious.

Odder Numbers

Speaking of unusual lead numbers —

When I first saw one like the Ruwe Hospital 4/8, I thought it actually had an extra-soft lead.  A quick test proved that it didn’t.  Obviously (in retrospect), a leading “2” was intentionally omitted on these pencils.  This was apparently done so that the numbers in the fractions could be large and oriented in the same direction as was used for the 1, 2, etc. hardnesses.

But even when the style of the Blue Band changed and truncation of the numbers was no longer appropriate, it was initially retained —

Lefty and Righty

Most modern pencils are “right-handed,” the text being upright when held for use by a right-handed person.  Many very old pencils have a “left-handed” design.  Here are some with both handednesses:

The upper Laddie is probably an error, with the wrong end factory-sharpened.  But it would be a lucky find for a left-handed student.

Blog note: I just got a new job in a new location, so postings will be less frequent for a while.  But keep visiting.  I’ve got lots of great things to show you!