The first thing I did when I rolled into the office this Monday was pick out a new pencil to test. I poked around a little bit through my cheap big-box pencils. I picked up a few Japanese ones. Then, it occurred to me…it’s been a little bit since I’ve tried out a pencil from India. Ah! We have a winner: the DOMS X1.
This ungraded pencil has been sitting in my stash for a while. Somehow I accidentally ordered two boxes, so not only will this review satisfy any readers particularly interested in pencils from India, but it will also clear two boxes out of the to-review drawer (which has actually overflowed onto the top of my desk and could probably occupy two drawers now). It’s a win-win. So, without further ado, let’s find out of the DOMS X1 itself is a win…
A lot of people already know this, but “they pay people to live in Alaska”. I use quotation marks, because that’s a really bad way to explain it. What actually happens is that the State invests a portion of its oil royalties in a sovereign wealth fund composed of stocks, real estate, etc. The annual earnings of the fund can be reinvested, appropriated to finance the State budget, and disbursed as a dividend. Anyone who has been a resident of Alaska for a year or more with the intention of staying indefinitely can apply in the spring to get the year’s dividend, which is paid out in October.
Anyway, what that means for you is that I have slightly more disposable income than usual this month, and the first wave of my writing-supply spurge is flowing in!
I haven’t reviewed a pencil from India in a minute, so I’m glad that my box of Doms X1 pencils came in. Actually, another one arrived a few days ago…not sure why I ordered two. Oh well! Also I snagged the Maped Black Peps, as you can see, which is a pencil that’s just been kind of hanging around in my Amazon wishlist for a while. The price dropped like ridiculously low, so I bit. And, that Tops composition book…let’s just say I have a little composition book post in the works. Maybe even a series of posts.
I’ve got a lot more stuff coming, so stay tuned for more reviews and general pencilly goodness.
Today’s review is going to get a little weird, because it’s going to involve two pencils. But, actually, maybe just one. Clear as mud? I’m talking about the “No. 2/HB” store brand pencil(s) from Walmart. One is a “throwback” thrift-store find from the Casemate brand; the other is current-production material of the Pen+Gear make.
Why review them both simultaneously? In order to answer that, a little backstory is necessary. A few years back, Walmart’s Casemate brand started putting out cheap “no-name” yellow pencils that were made in India. Rumor on the internet was that these pencils were actually made by Hindustan Pencil Co., maker of the Nataraj Bold pencil (which I really like). At some point Walmart dropped the “Casemate” label in favor of “Pen+Gear”, and — rumor also has it — started to source their store-brand pencils from another manufacturer. Rumor also has it that they kinda went to hell at this point. Well, I happened to come upon both old and new models of their pencils and noticed that they are almost identical with only minor changes. So, what’s going on here? Are they the same pencil with different branding? Are they different pencils? And, most importantly…are they any good?
Happy late May Day, comrades. I hope you’re recovering well from a successful day of instigating glorious proletarian revolution. Anyway, today I popped in to that bastion of the working class, Goodwill, and found some cool stuff during my mid-day break from bourgeois exploitation. (Just kidding. I work for the government, and I oppress the bourgeoisie on a daily basis; or at least they seem to think I do).
The Mirado Classic pencils are noteworthy because they are of mid/late-2000s vintage. Of course the Mirado Classic is still produced today, but the model pictured above was made in the USA, out of cedar. Production has since moved to Mexico, and more recently cedar was dropped in favor of a different species of wood for the Mirado Classic (or, at least, it’s no longer the only species of wood). I think it would be fun to use one of these for a throwback review, and/or do a comparison review of the circa-2019 Mirado Classic, the current Black Warrior, and the old USA Mirado pencils.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I love soft pencils. The smoothness. The darkness. Oh yes. Another thing you may have noticed (or probably will in the near future, if you continue reading this blog) is that I enjoy sampling pencils from every corner of the earth. So when I found out that India’s largest pencil-maker, Hindustan Pencils, is producing a product called the “Bold”, which it markets as being “super black”, you know I was all over that.
India is a country that straddles the line between “developing” and “industrialized”. Their economy is more developed than most of their neighbors, and yet their median quality of life is not on par with most Western countries. All of that is to say, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this product of their pencil industry. Would it be a hidden gem, or a flop? Well, my box of Nataraj Bold pencils finally arrived, so let’s find out.