Our review today comes from Tom Leininger, a professional writer and photographer based in Lafayette, Indiana. Tom also has a blog on which you can see some of his amazing photos. We know that Tom is a huge fan of the Dixon Ticonderoga, so we asked him if he would review them for the Revolution, and we want to thank Tom at the outset for a great review and wonderful photos.
The technical stuff:
Material: Incense cedar.
Finish: Non-toxic yellow, high gloss.
Ferrule: Dixon’s famous green with yellow stripes.
Eraser: Soft pink rubber.
Core: HB (#2) graphite.
Markings: Green Foil. “U.S.A. Dixon Ticonderago 1388-2/HB Soft.”
Packaging: Varies. The box I have had 10 in it. Also available by the dozen and multi-dozen.
Origin: Manufactured in USA of California cedar; Company is based in Heathrow, Fla.
It was not until college that I understood how vital a pencil is to my chosen profession. I was sitting in my first journalism class at Western Kentucky University when the professor said we should always carry a pencil with us. Or, just use pencils all the time. They work in the rain, when ink runs. They work in the cold when ink freezes.
So, I have always had a pencil at hand, I just never really wrote with them all the time, until recently.
Before I found this blog I had been trying to go back to the fountain pen I bought when I was in college. I liked the fact it was messy and pretentious. It must have gotten lost in all of my moves. The disposable ones I tried did not always work. Since most of my writing is done in small notebooks standing up, I needed something simple.
The pencil. It was staring me in the face all along. I always kept one in my car, for when it rained or was extremely cold. I thought this might be what I am looking for.
So, I grabbed a generic one from the drawer at work, but was disappointed. A couple of people mentioned the Pilot G2 mechanical, which I tried. These let me down.
Coming home one day I found the rather patriotic box of Dixon Ticonderogas sitting on the desk. My wife, a former first grade teacher, said they were best for her kids. “I know you are reading about pencils,” she said with a smirk. “They are the best.”
So I sharpened one to a nice point. Unlike the mechanical one, the lead does not break easily. With pencils and keyboards, I am a little on the rough side. It works well writing in small notebooks standing up, or crouching down on the ground.
I gave one to a pencil wielding editor at the newspaper I work at. Maybe it is even better when used at a desk. “It’s a good pencil,” he said. It required one sharpening for a day’s worth of work. The generic he had been using needed to be sharpened every five minutes. He also noted that pencil has a more rounded feel to it. It does not leave creases in your hand.
“Another thing about that stupid pencil,” he said leaving the office. “It is strong and does not break.”
I have realized it can’t write on everything. My hand or checks to be cashed for example. At times it is not always easy to carry. These would be the biggest drawbackws to the wooden pencil.
Most of the time I will tuck it behind my ear, leading to the phantom pencil syndrome. At the end of the day, I still think it is behind my ear when alas, it is not. Luckily, it tucks into my Newswear chest vest and Mountainsmith Tour lumbar bag easily.
I do wish it came in a size that would fit a shirt pocket well. Sharpening is a breeze. The point is solid. They taste like wood. The eraser works well. And they can write on napkins. What more could one ask for? For one thing, these are right handed pencils, I am left-handed. So, all of the printing is upside down when I am writing.
The Dixon Ticonderoga has earned a spot in my kit. That is saying a lot, since I am kind of picky.
[All photos and text copyright T. Leininger 2005.]