My Collection – Photos and Commentary



One star, two stars, three, five, and seven.  Missing a four and a six.  Oh well.


Transitional Species

Most of you are familiar with the story of how Eagle’s flagship Mikado brand was changed to Mirado after Pearl Harbor, in order to remove the reference to Japan.  So K became R, but the transition was in two stages.  For a short time, the R was cleverly made by simply adding a bar to the K.  Then the R was rounded.

Another clear case of pencil evolution in action:


Blog note:  Please pardon my limited postings.  I’m still heavily involved in other things and have not been able to take new pictures.

Lead from Different Countries

The famous Borrowdale mine in England was the first source of graphite for pencils, but other sources around the world have since been found.  This material, along with its processing, is so critical to quality that some pencils announce the source of the graphite or lead —

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The famous Alibert mine of Siberia is represented.

It’s ironic that the English pencil boasts of having Spanish Graphite.  Meanwhile, another pencil (probably from Austria) has British Graphite.

Catching Some Z’s

I did a massive sorting of my collection earlier this year.  The thought came to me, “I’ve got a zillion pencils here.  Let’s see how many I can pick out that start with the letter Z.”

Here are the wooden brand-name pencils:

There’s also a Zulu in an earlier post.  The swirly one says Zippy Special.  There really ought to be a Zebra — I imagine such a pencil could be really cool-looking, with black and white stripes.  I know, the Zimmermannsstift (carpenter’s pencil in German) is a bit of a stretch.

Stretching further, I found these advertising pencils:

And finally, a mechanical pencil.  There is only one, but it is the Z-est of all!



There’s more than one way to represent that number, and the proof is in these pencils.  Anything other than 2½ must reflect an effort to add distinctiveness to a brand.  As a side benefit, it also helps kids learn math.

Here we have the decimal version, then use of all fractions from 1/2 through 5/10.  Then, a leap to 8/16 — distinctive indeed!


Although it may make us cringe today, it was once fashionable to give pencils featuring a deep, black mark African-themed names. 

And lest you think, “Oh, it can’t be as bad as it looks.  They’re just referring to Africa the continent, Swahili the language, negro the Spanish word for black, and Blackamoor the… the…” —No, it’s black people.  I don’t have them to show, but I’ve seen old boxes for the Negro and Zulu brands that prominently depict African tribesmen.

War Drawing

During World War II in Great Britain, there was severe rationing, including of materials used in the manufacture of pencils. Each pencil company seems to have produced a bare-basics War Drawing brand. 

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Represented here are Pencils Limited, Egerton, Venus, Rowney, Hardtmuth, a generic, and Royal Sovereign. (The bottom two show the reverse of the previous two.)

We’re Number Four!

American pencils intended mainly for writing (as opposed to drafting) often come in a range of grades, with 1 as the softest and 4 as the hardest.  But who actually uses the 4’s for writing?  You’d have to be quite heavy-handed, or perhaps trying to write secret messages.  They are relatively rare. 

No. 4 U.S. Pencils

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