This piece is by Matt Downey, a student of music and pencils.
I love pencils. All kinds of pencils. I have a weird love of graphite and gel ink. I carry untold numbers of implements with me at all times. I know that it is explained via OCD, but I feel I must have a source of graphite with me. I am a Music Composition major at a SUNY (State University of New York).Â I just finished my freshman year. At the bookstore on campus there are few implement choices. Sharpwriters, Matics, and overpriced Pentels. The woodcased pencils are not worth mentioning except the overpriced art pencils such as Turquoise which are in another section of the store entirely. When comparing the Pentels to the Papermates and the Bics, $5 gets you one of the former and ten of the latter two. Among music students I have observed that the Matic is the choice most often made. Twenty years ago the allegiance would have been given without question to the Mongol. To Sanford a cry of “bring it back,” along with the Blackwing is futile but heartfelt.
Point: Plastic fixed needle.
Eraser: White vinyl.
Markings: â€œBIC (w/mascot) Pencil .07mm #2â€ on clip.
Origins: Varies. Iâ€™ve seen China, USA and France.
Availability: Office supply stores, CVS and anywhere BIC writing products are sold.
All right, itâ€™s confession time. I learned to write with a Mongol and a Matic back about 13 to 14 years ago. Matics are a sentimental favorite of mine for that reason. This has not prevented me from abandoning them in favor of Pentels (wish I still had that P205) but I have always come back to it because of its merits:
1.Solid tip: Although plastic, it is not flimsy as the Papermates. Also I fear every other mechanical pencil in this price range I have tried has felt like it was not worth buying. This feels solid.
2.Balance: It is similar to a woodcase without an eraser if you remove the clip as shown in the photo.
3.Eraser: White vinyl and soft. It erases better than a standard Dixon. From the point of view of people at my school that is the deciding factor. The Papermate has the same thing they put on the American, which is an abomination. Now the Pentels, which are ten times the price, have better erasers, but no one wants to spend $5 dollars on a pencil that Staples gives in three packs for the same price. So the eraser is great, and is the reason many people buy this cheap item.
Cosmetically, it looks like Bicâ€™s Cristal pens, except it comes with a colored clip. It is inexpensive and writes well.
Now after the reviewing is done I will throw in my biases.
I like dark lines and smooth writing. My favorite woodcase pencils are: Palomino (check out Timberlines 6/20/06), Forest Choice, and I just got some Mongols with which I relive school days. On the Mechie trail, I favor various Pentels .05mm equipped with .05mm/2B lead.Â The only things I do with Matic pencils is break off the clip (OCD) and switch to Pentel HB lead which I think is slightly smoother. This pencil is also available in .05mm but I havenâ€™t seen any in the bookstore for some time and donâ€™t have any to review.
Conclusion: A good buy for general purpose. A must have for pencil lovers as they are of a high quality and cheap. To me there is something important about having samples of both types of pencils, regardless of which one garners more use. In my case I sketch (music) with wood and score (make the sketches the piece envisioned) with mechanical. Why? My handwriting is horrible and scores need all the legibility I can muster. Uniformity in point helps with that. For a sketch, which is to say the creation of the piece, wood seems best. I am an equal opportunity pencil freak, and I recommend that you check out a Matic without delay.
[Images and text, M.D.Â Used with very kind permission.]