Mechanical Pencils – Fun Facts about the History of Pencils!

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For hundreds of years now, the people of the planet have consistently relied on pencils to make their lives easier. We use graphite pencils to write down our thoughts, record our business dealings, create artistic works and generally accommodate our needs for expression. The road to developing the modern mechanical pencils that we are all so fond of has been long and arduous. Here are some fun facts that will help you to see the big pencil picture!

Pencils, or at least pencil-like instruments, go back thousands of years!

It was the Romans who coined the phrase pencil. They actually called a tiny brush that they called a “pencillus”.

The proper history of the wooden stylus pencils were used to create the cuneiform codes from ancient Iraq.

Nicholas Jacques Conte, one of Napoleon’s officers, in 1795, was the first to grind graphite with clay and press the mixture into sticks of wood. He then baked them in a kiln.

Conte’s method of “lead” making allowed for the graphite mixture to made to any hardness or softness desired.

Are you feeling pencil-smart yet? Let’s continue!

Because of Conte’s pencil lead recipe, today there are leads that can write on movie film, cloth, cellophane, plastics and more!

In the eighteenth century, The Faber family from Germany was already producing crude graphite sticks for writing purposes.

They took what Conte taught the world and expanded on it. They refined his processes.

Eberhard Faber opened the first US pencil factory in New York City in 1861.

Because of this, Faber-Castell will always be renowned for the development of the modern pencil.

But, what about mechanical pencils, you ask?

In 1913, Charles R. Keeran introduced the world’s first mass-produced mechanical pencil: the Eversharp Pencil.

Hayakawa Tokuji, a Japanese pencil maker, actually made the mechanical pencil before Keeran.

Keeran gets the credit though because his mechanical pencil went to market first.

Tokuji’s Ever Ready Sharp pencil didn’t make the US market until 1915.

It was Goodyear’s vulcanization process on rubber that led to the creation of pencil erasers!

Well, there you have – the history of pencils and mechanical pencils in a nutshell. As with most things in life, the history of pencils goes way, way back. The next time you are writing with your easy-to-use, ergonomically-efficient mechanical pencil, just remember all of the work and thought that was needed to create it! Enjoy your penciling!

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