Cheap pencils.

We here at Pencil Revolution are not snobs. There is no price requisite for the pencils we use, etc.

“My name’s Ashley, and I love cheap pencils!

I am wondering if anyone else has this same predelection or habit. I hesitate to call it a ‘vice’ :) I find it such a thrill to discover that a nondescript, ‘no name,’ overlooked pencil, languishing on my daughter’s closet floor, is also a good one. After doing a bit of sleuthing, I found that this particular pencil is part of a 24 count pack at Target, selling for 97 cents. It is a humble number two, with a gloppy paint job. I doubt that its wood casing comes from Cal Cedar (the wood looks like pine) , or is FSC certified. But it writes smoothly and softly, sharpens well, has a decent darkness, and a nice eraser. Best of all, it cost roughly four cents!! Now, I love my Palominos, but a bargain is a bargain!

Suffice it to say that cheap pencil hunting is my new pastime. I don’t want cheap at any cost; that is, I want remarkable quality for the low cost. I will not rejoice over atrocious pencils. But to all those out there at the Revolution who share my enthusiasm, hurry to Target, with just a dollar in your pocket!”

[Text and images, A.M. Used with kind permission.]

23 thoughts on “Cheap pencils.”

  1. Over on Timberlines, the issue of cheap chinese pencils has been discussed and it has been noted that the quality of chinese pencils varies from good to awful.
    Those discussion are worth reading, and put those 4 cent apiece chinese pencils into perspective.

  2. I used to get pencils for Christmas as a child that came from Sears. My parents would buy them by the gross and give each of us kids one of the colors. I haven’t bought pencils from Sears in years – I don’t even know if they still sell pencils by the gross, but they were cheap at the time, and really good pencils. I still have a few and they are as reliable as ever.

  3. It’s been a bit since I’ve reviewed Target’s offerings. I know many of the pencils sold at Target are sourced in Indonesia, although those mentioned here may be Chinese. It should say on the box though.

    The industry typically still works in gross in discussing their sales. Many items particluarly in supplying to Advertising Specialty imprinters or yellow hex pencils to traditional school supply dealers are sold in gross. I am currently considering offering 1 gross boxes of certain pencils at Pencil World. We do offer ForestChoice in 1 gross boxes for both graphite and carpenters pencils.

  4. O.k., I couldn’t resist. I stopped by my local Target yesterday and bought a box. I sharpened them with my new T’GAAL sharpener (which is great, except for the flimsy back cover that you remove to dispose of the shavings) and used them for a couple of pages. They’re not bad by any means, but they do smudge pretty badly, so if you do use them be sure not to run your hand over what you have just written. However, yesterday I also happened to use a Blackwing 602 and what I condider their true heir, the Palomino, and of course there is no comparison. For 97 cents they are good to jot a quick note, but for extended quality writing you, unfortunately, have to pay a bit more.

  5. frank c. “happened to use a Blackwing 602…”

    My goodness, frank c, when I use one of my precious Blackwings it is a deliberate choice. I have to ask myself whether the proposed use is worth shortening the pencil just a little bit, and bringing closer the day when my Blackwings will be all gone.

  6. I used the Blackwing yesterday because I just happened to pull it out of the pencil cup (I have four in total). It is always a difficult choice to use the Blackwing, because every time I use it I realize I am shortening its life. However, it is good to go back to it, on occasion, to see just how good an experience it can be to use a pencil.

  7. Explanation accepted, frank c. How right you are about the difficult choice to use a Blackwing pencil, and the joy of using it even occasionally.

  8. Annonymous & Frank – Seize the day! Don’t make your use of your precious Blackwings a source of anxiety and feelings of loss – you miss all the pleasure of it that way. Write with joy with those pencils right down to the nub. When they are gone you will remember them more fondly. Then, get some Palominos and develop your love for writing with them in the same way you did the Blackwing. Nothing lasts forever, so be sure you don’t die with Blackwings in your pencil cups!

  9. Ninth wave:

    That is exactly right, about enjoying a favorite pencil while you still have it.
    One of the reasons I was so excited about my (more or less) cheap Target pencils was the fact that I didn’t have to try very hard to enjoy them. True, they are way behind Palominos, etc. in terms of quality (and other considerations). At the same time, however,I don’t have to special order them online, or obsess about their availability. That is what I love about pencils, how uncomplicated and available they can be.

  10. Ninth Wave,

    I agree about the Palominos–they are the heir to the Blackwings.

    I still use my Blackwings, but not that much. Oh, those replacement costs! Plus, with the Palominos, Grip 2001s, etc. I not sacrificing much, if anything, but using them instead of the Blackwings.

  11. There IS a difference between pencils. Have you ever had a cheap one that writes and erases almost like it has oil in it? Or wood that is so rough you get splinters? It pays to buy good pencils. It’s not like there is a HUGE money saving difference between cheap pencils and higher quality pencils. Even ‘expensive’ pencils are inexpensive, really. Once you have used Tombow Mono pencils, you will never be able to stand your cheap pencils again. Find Tombow pencils at Dick

  12. True, expensive pencils are very fine, but it’s nice to be able to lose a cheap one in the grocery store, checking off a list. Takes all kinds;)

  13. Before school started I was so excited about the great prices of pencils at Target. I am a teacher who likes to keep sharpened pencils on hand for my students. After three boxes of pencils that totally disappeared into the sharpener, I returned the other 10 boxes. I did get a refund.

  14. I found the made in the USA version of these pencils at walmart for the same price, haven’t picked up any yet though as my desk drawers are swimming with pencils. I just can’t write fast enough to make them run out!

  15. I am a teacher and am always looking for pencil at a good price. We are a rural, high poverty district and they just can’t seem to keep them when they need them. I spend my own money to keep pencils available to them, but sometimes the pencils I get aren’t worth it, so any resources would be appreciated. Thanks!

  16. I’m looking for pencils for a charity. So if anybody has any advice about getting pencils dirt cheap, please let me know. I’ve been able to buy some for about 3-4 cents each, but I need alot more. Thanks!

  17. The best and cheapest pencils I found are at They are excellent quality and very cheap, about 4cents each, if you buy them with imprint errors.

  18. I absolutely love my Palomino’s!!!! They are literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. I tried using others but nothing compares. I was shocked recently when I tried out the pencil-booster 5000 and it obliterated my precious Palomino’s. DO NOT BUY the pencil booster 5000, it will destroy all your dreams!!! Oh, and one more thing: I LOVE PENCILS!!!!!!

  19. What’s a good pencil that’s cheap? I am using a manual ‘hand’ pencil sharpener not an electric one.
    I bought a box sometime ago and most broke as they were being sharpened so most of the pencils were un-useable so I’m trying to find something better this time.

  20. You can’t go wrong with some Ticonderogas or some “America’s Pencil”/USA Gold from Write Dudes. The latter have the benefit of being American-made and being made of nice cedar.

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