Blog of Random Thoughts and Pictures

The pencil so simple, so ubiquitous and so much history

June 28th, 2009

I recently finished an intriguing book with the history of the pencil … yes the pencil.

Maybe it doesn’t sound too exciting but really the story touches on the pencil as it emerges as a new writing technology, to the over-mining of plumbago and over-cutting of cedar trees its base components.
The need for research, development and innovation in the creation of new writing lead, the centuries of secrecy around that combination of graphite & clay mixture in the lead (Conte).
How the industrial revolution created a situation were there was 10 pencils for everyone on earth, the subsequent price fixing, international trade wars, standardisation (of lead grading), regulations and industrial consolidation.
To the threat of the mechanical pencil and ink pens, then typewriters, computers and many others and yet 4 centuries later I look at my desk at work and see 5 pencils, I’ve no idea were they have come from, who made them or how, but I know why they are there, I’ll continue to use them for scribbling transient notes and now at least I have a little more insight on the pencils history.