Number one with a bullet!

In my previous blog post about uses for stubby pencils, I mused openly about acquiring a bullet pencil to help me make use of (and keep track of!) the last few inches of a pencil before casting it into my big ol’ stub tub. Well, I finally pulled the trigger (pun intended) and ordered an antique bullet pencil of my own!

If you’re not familiar with bullet pencils, I’ll give you the rundown. They are basically an old-school combination of pencil extender and carrying case, shaped like a rifle cartridge (hence the name). In fact, the original bullet pencils were actually made out of surplus ammunition casings. The “bullet” pulls open to reveal a short pencil, which can be plugged back into the casing that acts as a holder. Back in “the day” bullet pencils were, apparently, quite the common promotional item given away for free at the feed store counter or whatever. As far as I can tell, no one is making them anymore — except for a few current-production models that are attempting to revive the format at something like $20 or $30 a pop.

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What do you do with a stubby pencil*?

* Sung to the melody of “Drunken Sailor”

I recently professed my love/obsession/fixation with stubby pencils and my goal to collect an entire jug full (read all about that here). However, since posting that I’ve reflected on the topic some more and come to a conclusion: stubbin’ ain’t easy.

What’s a pencil-lover to do as a pencil approaches the end of its life? It enters the “awkward phase”, similar to a person trying to grow their hair out. You know, when it’s not long enough to be long hair, but it’s so long that it looks like they really need to get a haircut. It’s kind of the inverse with pencils: it’s too long to throw away, but short enough to feel a little cramped and weird. So I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about any particularly useful jobs for a pencil that is reaching the age of semi-retirement.

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