Mechanical Pencil Day: Dave's Mechanical Pencils

This post is part of our celebrations for Mechanical Pencil Day, on 05/07 - the 5th of July, 2018.

For fans of mechanical pencils, Dave will need no introduction, but for everyone else - he's the person behind the much-loved blog Dave's Mechanical Pencils. As one of our favourite pencil bloggers, we were delighted when Dave agreed to write a guest post for us, all about his history with mechanical pencils, and some favourites from over the years. Over to you, Dave:

I had never really paid any attention to writing instruments, but always thought mechanical pencils were rather interesting things compared to pens and wooden pencils. Then one day I went into a specialist retailer to buy a drafting pencil for school and was astonished to see the range of mechanical pencils available for technical drawing, art and general writing. I could not resist buying this Pentel.

Pentel SG75 Pencil

Pentel SG75, showing some signs of its age.

Slowly my interest built up and many years later I realised I had a collection and was a collector of mechanical pencils. Then along came the internet and blogging, suddenly there was world full of writing instruments and fellow enthusiasts within easy reach.

I am interested in all types of mechanical pencils, from everyday writing to luxury brands and of course technical models. The pencil is one of the primary tools of designers and engineers, so it’s no surprise that over the decades there has been quite a lot of engineering design put into mechanical pencils. All sorts of different body types, grip shapes and materials have been tried, along with various mechanisms to advance the lead and stop it breaking and so on. There is a mechanical pencil for everyone.

Anyway, here’s a few of my favourites.

My everyday office pencil and erasers:

Everyday office pencil and erasers

Lamy 2000 pencil with (Top-Bottom) Metaphys Viss spiral eraser, the insanely useful Tombow Mono Zero stick eraser, and Faber-Castell Grip eraser.

Some general writing pencils

Pencils for general writing

(Top-Bottom) Lamy Scribble (short and dumpy ideal for scribbling notes), Pentel Sharp Kerry (a bit of everyday class, with cap unposted), Pentel Jolt (shaker mechanism), Staedtler Graphite 777, Papermate Biodegradable (it is compostable), Uni Kuru Toga (self-rotating lead), Faber-Castell Scribolino (fun for learners and adults).

From the luxury end of town

Luxury pencils

(L-R) Yard-O-Led Deco 34 (handmade solid sterling silver, it stores 1 yard of lead inside the body), Porsche Design P’3130 Mikado with its wonderful unique twisting rods mechanism, Caran d’Ache Varius Ivanhoe (in its coat of mail body armour) and Parker Duofold (timeless classic styling)

Swiss Army knives and multi-tools have always held a certain fascination for a lot of people. Many writing instrument manufacturers used to try and tempt people with multi-feature mechanical pencils, so here are a few strange old beasts.

Multifunction pencils, including pencils with dice and a pencil/lighter

(L-R) Penciliter for the smokers, Gambling pencil with 5 poker-die storage inside the body under the top cap, His ‘n’ Hers Bathing Beauties floaty pencils (turn them the other way up and their bathing suits… well this isn’t an R-rated site), another Gambling pencil this time with three hidden die, nail file and pen-knife blade. Lastly, across the bottom is a 25cm Telescoping ruler pencil.

A few oldies from 50 to 100 or more years ago.

Old mechanical pencils from 50 to 100 years old

(Top-Bottom) Eversharp (probably the most famous of the early manufacturers), Conway Stewart, Yard-O-Led rolled gold and an antique retracting slider pencil with monthly calendar ring at the top of the body.

For when you just have to lay down some ink.

Faber-Castell e-motion fountain pen, ballpoint and mechanical pencil

(L-R) Faber-Castell e-motion fountain pen, ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil.

So as not to leave you on that slightly incongruous ink-note, I will finish with a few for the technically minded. Mechanical pencils that are the current editions of the traditional drafting pencils of architects, designers and engineers.

Drafting pencils

(Top-Bottom) Rotring Rapid Pro, Pentel Graph 1000, Pentel Graphgear 1000 and Pentel P205

Mechanical pencils and slide rules did all of this:

Apollo 15, image from NASA

2 July 2018


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