We were planning on reviewing the Dixon “Black” (formerly the Millennium) in time for Halloween, since it is a great black pencil that not a lot of people know about and since I personally like it better than the Black Warrior as far as black pencils go. But I was online chatting with my buddy, and he asked why Ticonderoga is named such. I went to the website and saw the promo for Dixon’s new Tri-Conderoga, and, well, the Black will just have to wait a bit longer.
Material: Genuine California Incense Cedar.
Shape: Triangular, large diameter.
Finish: Rubbery black “Soft Touch” coating.
Ferrule: The famous Dixon green and yellow ferrule, triangular.
Eraser: High quality, latex-free black eraser.
Core: HB graphite.
Markings: Gold Foil. â€œDIXON TRI-CONDEROGA/HB(2).â€
Packaging: So far found in a pack of six with a complimentary sharpener.
Availability: Staples stores nationwide.
Origin: Missouri, United States.
Dixon bills this as “The World’s Most Comfortable Pencil.” With competitors like the GRIP 2001 from Faber-Castell, the Ergosoft from Staedtler and from Dixon’s own Tri-Write, these will be hard shoes to fill. But it turns out that the Tri-Conderoga is as unique as the other triangular-shaped pencils on the market, perhaps even more so. Faber-Castell’s GRIP 2001 has the unique grip zone and started the recent triangular pencil craze, at least to some extent. However, as fans of Petroski’s book are aware, triangular-shaped pencils date back to the mid-twentieth century, but the design was rarely used due to it being wasteful of wood (pg. 207-208). Staedtler has the rubbery Erogsoft in response, and Dixon has the Tri-Write, a triangular version of the famous yellow Ticonderoga. The Tri-Write is the only one of the three to be made of Incense Cedar.
The Tri-Conderoga is a departure from the other three for several reasons, the most obvious of which is the diameter. This pencil is nearly as thick as the wide pencils youngsters learn to write with. As we all probably remember, these are strangely comfortable to hold. However, the drawbacks with these thick pencils were that they usually had low-quality cores, stinky wood and thick cores that could not be sharpened to a point for use on adult stationery. The Tri-Conderoga has a core that is the same thickness as regular pencils, so they can be sharpened just as well as others. Dixon’s very nice Product Manager tells us that the Tri-Conderoga “is totally different than anything on the market â€“ for adults.” He’s very very correct, and I can’t find a thing about this pencil that is anything but adult. Don’t let the diameter fool you at Staples. These are not the same things you used in first grade.
The coating does not feel as thick as the one on the Ergosoft, and I’d consider that a good thing. The thickness of the “soft feel” finish does not hinder sharpening at all, and it does not give under pressure from your hands — it is not spongy or shifty. It’s very solid and does exactly what it is supposed to do. Speaking of sharpening, Dixon includes a pretty nice black sharpener with the packs of six pencils that has two holes, one of which fits the Tri-Conderoga perfectly.
The core is, as you’d expect from Dixon, smooth, dark and strong. I don’t think we need to go into that much more here. Writing with a Dixon is always a pleasure with these great cores.
Adding to the quality feel of the pencil is the ferrule. Of course it is yellow and green like the famous yellow Dixons, but Dixon went the extra mile and made a special ferrule just for this pencil. It is the custom triangular fit that we would have loved to see on the otherwise terrific Tri-Write. The new ferrule fits very flushly with the barrel, and you won’t find the paint-spread (yay, we coined a term!) that a lot of modern “quality” pencils are suffering from these days around the ferule.
The eraser matches the quality of the pencil’s feel, and I haven’t touched a Dixon in a long time that didn’t have a great eraser on it. It’s large and triangular, and having points on the eraser is especially nice for correctly the smaller errors one sometimes makes.
Writing with the Tri-Conderoga is, admittedly, a bit awkward at first. This is not really due to the diameter but rather to the severity of the triangular shape. I for one don’t hold my pencils correctly when I hold them in my natural way. I somehow got away with gripping my pencils incorrectly, and the good sisters at St. Thomas didn’t notice. With the GRIP 2001, the triangular shape is rounded enough that it can be gotten around; I can hold it the way I’d hold a round pencil. The Tri-Conderoga is so triangular that this cannot be replicated. The shape and size of this pencil mean that you have to hold it correctly.
But that is not a bad thing. On the Tri-Conderoga’s website, Dixon cites studies showing that triangular writing instruments promote the proper grip that leads to comfort and legible handwriting. Rather than passively promoting said grip, the Tri-Conderoga performs a feat of pencil TOUGH LOVE and makes you hold your pencil correctly. I said this was awkward for me at first. But inside of a written page, it became more natural, comfortable, and I did notice a new degree of uniformity in my writing. The pencil did exactly what it was designed to do and did it very very well, and I found it to be comfortable to write with inside of a few minutes. Very comfortable.
Some people might prefer the GRIP 2001 for its millennial paint job or German heritage, and some people might still prefer the Tri-Write for it’s traditional yellow gloss. But anyone who appreciates writing comfort at all would enjoy at least some test runs with this pencil. The writing is smooth and comfortable. The eraser is top-notch. The pencil itself is very up-scale and stylish, but it does not feel fragile like some more expensive pencils do at times. Rather, it’s very durable and solid. And of course, there’s the great smell of the cedar.
We would definitely recommend this pencil. The exact combination of the precise shape, the unique size and the finishing touches really set this pencil apart. This is no ordinary triangular or coated pencil. It’s truly revolutionary.