Most literate people worldwide must have used a pencil at some point. This highlights how important the stationary is. It continues to help students, writers, engineers, and artists achieve their dreams.
However, did you know that pencils have existed since 1560? Which is the largest pencil ever created? This article provides amazing pencil facts to help you answer these questions and more.
1. Pencils Have Existed From As Early As 1560
The history of pencils dates so far back that there is no clear documentation of who invented it. However, most sources credit Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti with making the first wood pencil in the early 1560s. The stationery was oval, consisted of a hollowed-out stick juniper, and was popular with carpenters.
Even though it wasn’t a sustainable product, the couple’s invention laid the ground for more improvements. Over time, people discovered they could glue two pieces of wood around a shaped graphite and make more efficient pencils.
Following the discovery of more graphite deposits in the Borrowdale area in the late 16th century, the British assumed a monopoly role in the industry. It wasn’t until the 1795 Napoleonic War that other countries discovered other methods of making their pencils.
Around that period, Nicolas Jacques Conte, a scientist working in the military, discovered that he could mix graphite and clay to make finer pencils. He could also regulate the hardness and fineness of the stationeries by heating the ingredients.
The method still remains relevant today, with various pencil variations available. They include HB, 2B, and 3B. “H” signifies how hard the pencil is, while “B” represents the product’s graphite blackness. Conte received a patent for his invention in 1795.
2. 1822 Saw the First Mechanical Pencil Patented
Other than the wooden pencil, there were mechanical pencils, which did not require wood. Instead, the graphite is fitted in a self-replacing system that does not require sharpening. Still available today, Sampson and John Isaac (both English) received the first mechanical pencil patent in 1822.
Unlike the wooden pencil used then, the mechanical pencil had a knurled grip that provided better handling. Constant improvements and additions followed in the 19th and 20th centuries until we got what we have today. People like Tokuji Hayakawa and the Pentel Company played a crucial role in this.
3. Some Renowned Authors Prefer Writing in Pencils
Writers have specific routines and preferences that allow them to function optimally and curate masterpieces. For greats such as David Mamet, Richard Wilbur, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, using a pencil was a significant aspect for them.
All the mentioned writing icons and others prefer writing in pencils for different reasons. For some, doing so allows them to go over their work and correct possible mistakes quickly. Others love the stationery because of its convenience.
For instance, Margaret Atwood preferred pencils because, unlike ballpoint pens, they do not leak. She advised her readers to carry a pair of pencils while travelling in a plane– if one breaks, they can write with the other.
4. The World’s Biggest Pencil Weighs 98 Tonnes
The Guinness World Records recognizes Ashrita Furman’s 23.23m and 98.43 ton pencil as the largest ever created. With the help of the members of the Sri Chinmoy Center, the American set the record in New York on August 27, 2007.
On the other hand, Prakash Chandra Upadhyay holds the record for the smallest pencil. It measured 5 mm long and 0.5 mm wide. The professional artist set the record in Haldwani, India. Aaron Bartholmey from Colfax, Iowa, is the record holder for the most pencils collected (69,255 pieces).
5. The World’s Most Expensive Pencil Costs US$12800
Even though it was released in 2001, the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil remains the most expensive. The limited edition product cost approximately US$12800 (9000 Euros) and was made from 240-year-old olive wood. It also included an extension of an 18-carat white gold and 3 diamonds.
6. Breadcrumbs Were Once Used As Pencil Marks Erasers
Before people discovered natural rubber could erase pencil marks, breadcrumbs were used. Apparently, both dry and moist crumbs can wipe pencil marks. A larger piece of fresh bread rolled into a ball can also work. However, these methods are no longer recommended because of their downsides.
Records show that Edward Nairne, an English engineer, was the first person to discover natural rubber could erase pencil marks in 1770. Even so, it is said that he stumbled upon this discovery accidentally; instead of picking bread, he picked a rubber. He went on to develop the first widely marketed eraser.
7. Most Pencils Are Made from Wood, Graphite, and Clay
Apart from mechanical and clutch pencils, most of these products require wood, graphite, and clay to complete. Manufacturers get their softwood from coniferous trees, including spruces and pines. Cedar wood is also perfect. Paint, rubber, and metal (aluminum) are secondary ingredients.
8. Over 14 Billion Pencils Are Manufactured Yearly
Even in an era where people hardly write things using pens and pencils, over 14 billion pencils are produced and sold worldwide yearly. These are enough to circle the globe about 62 times.
9. Faber-Castell Is One of the World’s Biggest Pencil Producers
While many companies, especially from China, produce pencils, Germany’s Faber-Castell remains one of the most consistent and world-leading manufacturers. The company is prominent for feeding the market with quality, creative, and perfectly colored pencils.
Originally founded in 1761 at its Nurnberg Stein’s location, the manufacturer is not only the world’s leading stationery supplier but also one of the oldest. Estimates show that Faber-Castell produces over 2 billion black-lead and color pencils annually. It prides itself on values such as environmental responsibility, innovation, and quality.