Pencils are a thing of the past. But I’m a fan of the past, and a fan of pencils, too. They no longer have lead, they are filled with graphite. They are portable, don’t run out of ink, start right up when you want them to, write on a variety of surfaces and don’t run in the rain.
I own several wonderful antique pencils. One of them is the Noblot 705, a “copying pencil” made by Eberhard Faber. Once available in art stores and office supply stores, the pencils are now obsolete and available (for about $35) only at specialty stores, and then, not often. CW Pencil Enterprise in New York carries them. Most of the “copying pencils” contain aniline dye.
These smooth pencils combine graphite with aniline dye, so it writes in a non-fading, tough-to-erase black, like a pencil, but if you wet it with a brush, it dissolves into a beautiful turquoise permanent ink. If you are old enough, you may remember the grocer or bank clerk, licking a pencil and writing in a ledger. He (it was rarely a she) licked the pencil to activate the aniline ink, and make the ledger permanent.
If you get your hands on one of these pencils, don’t lick it. It’s not all that safe or delicious. Use a water brush, which is better than licking your journal, anyway.
My order from CW Pencils arrived today–two copying pencils, fresh and unsharpened, and a fabulous journal. It has a soft aluminum cover (like very heavy, embossed foil) covered in a translucent map-printed vellum. The inside pages are crisp white and suitable for pencil and pen sketching. (Read more about Eberhard Faber’s specialty pencils.)
The packaging was incredible. Bright yellow paper, black-and-white butcher’s twine, neat and tidy and beautiful. As a package for the writing table should be. Can’t wait to write and brush water over some of the words. Old-fashioned highlighter, so old-school, it was before my time.
—Quinn McDonald loves fountain pens and antique pencils, writing, and other old-school items and activities.