My Collection – Photos and Commentary

Special Purpose

Red | Blue: Long

For the final installment of red and blue lead combination pencils, I present wooden ones that are 8 to 9 inches long:

As for the intended purpose of these pencils, I would say that the Romantic and Rainbow are novelty items.  Despacho from Johann Sindel indicates something to do with shipping.  And the Hardtmuth and St. Majewski pencils bear the medical caduceus symbol.  Why is it useful for medical pencils to be so long?  Maybe so that doctors don’t have to bend over quite as far to mark charts that are tied to patients’ beds.

Now for some statistics.  I have shown a total of 307 red/blue pencils, not including the mechanical ones.  77% have the red lead on the left, blue on right. — But for U.S.-made ones, only 60% are oriented this way, while 88% of non-U.S. ones are.  74% have left and right sides painted red and blue (or with colored marks left and right). — But for one of these, the leads don’t match the paint!  (Can you find it?)


Test Scoring

Another type of special-purpose pencil is used for marking multiple-choice answer sheets and similar purposes.  A scanner detects the mark locations optically.  Nowadays, any number 2 or HB pencil usually suffices, but scanners were less sensitive in the past and special lead formulations were required.  These pencils are referred to by terms such as Test Scoring, Mark Sensing, Electrographic, Machine Scoring, and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition).

Many are black, suggestive of their dark marks:

The pair of Detect-O-Graphs at the bottom are another example of a connection between the Linton and Venus companies.

Here are some more, including the IBM Electrographic (see Pencil Talk):

Some modern Mark Sheet pencils from Japan:

The Tombow Mono one came with a plastic point protector:

And finally, a mechanical variety by Dur-O-Lite:

Red | Blue: Italy, EF, Hardtmuth

More for the Red|Blue page: Pencils from Italian companies (Fila, Presbitero, FIM-Torino), Eberhard Faber, and Hardtmuth, plus the Checkpoint brand.

Would you say that this one is best described as right-handed, left-handed, or other?


Red | Blue: German Companies

The Red|Blue Collection page now includes German pencil manufacturers: A.W. Faber, Johann Faber, Lyra, Schwan, Staedtler, and others.  Pencils made by these companies in other countries are included.

Red | Blue: Mechanicals and Pens

Continuing with the red/blue theme, here are appropriate mechanical pencils and ballpoint pens.  I am showing them here but reserving the Red|Blue Collection page for wood pencils.

 Starting with the fourth pencil down, the brands are Wearever (x3), Onward, Scripto, and Empire.


Red | Blue: Other Countries

I have added red-and-blue pencils from various countries to the R|B Collection page (click here). 

Still to come, but not for a while, are red/blue pencils from Germany, Italy, and the U.S., as well as the Hardtmuth company and mechanical pencils.

Collections, Red | Blue, Japan

FRED’S PENCILS has a new feature: Collections pages.  These pages display large numbers of items in a single category, with minimal commentary.  They are accessible from menus at the top and bottom of any page.  Items may be added in a few installments, which will be announced and described in the Blog.

I’ll begin with a Collection of Red and Blue pencils.  These combination pencils, which are handy for annotating documents and checking forms, are popular with a number of collectors and users.  For me, they were one of the first types of pencil that I considered special.

The first installment is R/B pencils from Japan.  A peculiarity of several of these Japanese pencils is the use of a specific shade of red, Vermillion, and a specific blue, Prussian Blue.  I suspect this has to do with the properties of these colors when copies are made.  (Anyone?)

Watch for much more in this Collection!

Black | Red

While red/blue combination pencils are well-known, there are also pencils that have both black (graphite) and red leads.  Here are a couple of old American ones, with a box:

The box describes what the pencils are for:  Red lead for checking and special notations, black for shorthand and writing. 

This type of pencil is more popular in Japan, judging from the many varieties –

I show both front and back because a common feature of Japanese pencils is that they have important information on opposite sides.

Note that all of these two-way pencils have black on the left and red on the right.  But the one shown on the Shorthandy box is reversed! 

Black/red combo mechanical pencils also exist –

The Autopoint at top is a famous example.