In the last Throwback pencil review, the subject of which was the Faber Castell Velvet, we discussed the convoluted series of mergers by which the lion’s share of American pencilmakers became concentrated in the hands of Newell Rubbermaid (by way of Sanford) who then proceeded to kill off their product lines, one by one. It was basically like the Hunger Games for pencils.
Actually, it was more like the formation of a black hole. Numerous pencil brands collapsed gravitationally inward creating one super-massive object from which none could escape. Sandford gave that black hole the name Paper Mate, which prior to the mega-merger was a pen manufacturer. Today, only the few Mirado lines of pencil are made under the Paper Mate banner, but that was not always the case.
[Actually, since writing my initial draft of this post, I have found another current-production Papermate pencil. Foreshadowing!]
Today we’re going to look at the American Classic, a Made-in-USA product of the early 2000s. I found a package of these, still in the wrapper, tucked away in a desk drawer, so you bet bottom dollar I swiped them and gave them a try.
Not long ago, I reviewed India’s Nataraj Bold pencil. In the interest of promoting peaceful coexistence between the countries of the world, I would be remiss if I didn’t also give some press to their neighbor and fellow pencil-producing country: Pakistan.
Uniting over a shared love of pencils may not be enough to stave off the spectre of nuclear war, but Shahsons Ltd. put Pakistan on the pencil map alongside its neighbors in 1953, when the current Director’s grandfather, Shah Saeed, established it as the his homeland’s first pencil manufacturer. Today Shahsons is the manufacturer of several pencil lines and are the flagship writing-instrument producer of its country.
On payday, I made my typical trip to Blaine’s Art Supply in search of some new toys & review fodder. I have so many pencils backed up to review — and yet, not enough to sustain this blog at the rate that I’m burning through them. So I forced myself to resist temptation to buy the few pencils they have remaining that I haven’t already picked up, and to branch out. I opted for something different and, in my line of work, potentially useful: The Tombow Mono Zero eraser; in this case, the rectangular version.
I have a very high opinion of Tombow products; in fact, the 8900 2B is one of my all-time favorite pencils. On the flip side, I’ve yet to meet a click eraser I actually really like. But then again, this one looks really promising. How will it pan out? Let’s see…
There are many pencils made in China. In fact, something like 50% of the world’s pencils are manufactured there. However, approximately 80% of them are manufactured for export — pencils such as the Dixon Ticonderoga, for example. But if you’ve read my review of the Chung Hwa 101, you know that I’m very curious about Chinese domestic brands. One of those brands is the curiously-named Deli company.
I have a bit of a hypothesis that it’s probably the brands that we in the West have never heard of that make the highest-quality pencils in China. It makes sense to me that those are the products that Chinese people want to buy, and that the random factories churning out shoddy pencils have to resort to exporting no-name products to the big box stores for pennies, because no one there wants to buy their crap. So where do products from Deli fit into all of this? Is the Deli S905 a solid product that we are missing out on here in the States? Or is it a cut-rate excuse for a writing instrument? Or is my hypothesis totally bunk?
If you were really analog, your sketchbook would a beach with a bunch of rocks, and you’d write using bronze-age tools. Check out these examples from the dull edge of analog writing technology:
This post is offered as somewhat of an apology for the relative lack of material I’ve put up recently. I have been traveling a lot, and focused on family and fun rather than computer stuff or playing with pencils. I did have a pencil review 99% ready to go and then lost a big chunk of work during a chaotic last-minute hotel checkout. So, check for that soon. In the meantime, I thought I would quickly share something from my trip that’s cool and at least marginally related to analog writing.
I’m just writing a quick post to share this funky vintage gem I found at the local Goodwill store: the Berol Premier Vacuhold APSCO sharpener!
It was almost like it was communicating with me telepathically. I originally passed it up on the office supply aisle (my favorite aisle, obviously) but I just had a certain feeling that I needed to go back and look underneath a random pile of junk. So I did, and…voila!
I first came across this little bugger in a book shop in the Anchorage airport. They wanted $7 for it. I almost bought it. Then I found the same model in Seattle for $3.50. Moral of the story: don’t buy things at the airport.
Nonetheless, the Ooly Mighty Sharpener stood out to me for some reason. Maybe because it’s cute. Maybe because it has a long-point sharpener. Maybe because it gives you options. Whatever the reason, when I came across it the second time (and the price was reasonable), I snagged it and brought it home for a review.