Historical “Cedar Pencils”.


You are visiting a Civil War battlefield in the United States.  You are at the visitor’s center, run — most likely — by the National Park Service or the local historical society or some other group interested in preserving the past or, at least, educating the public about it.  You see those replica musket balls, tiny metal carbines, maybe a Lincoln hat and beard.  Perhaps you even see some replica dip pens.  Do you see….pencils?  Maybe the souvenir kind, but do you see them with the historical replicas?  Do pencils have the “stature,” to be learned about?  Rarely.  Maybe this is because pencils really haven’t changed that much in the last 150 years, not so much that a lot of folks feel they are worth mentioning.  Or maybe pencils are not as interesting as guns and bone-saws?

Anyway, if you’re visiting Harper’s Ferry, home to John Brown‘s famous raid, and you’re visiting the bookshop, you’ll find historical pencils.  Really cool pencils.

These replicas do feature some pretty, well, inaccurate information with them.  For one, this is not the same cedar that colonial pencils would have been made of, not to mention that they would be far less precisely constructed.  From the manufacturer’s site:

“Our Colonial Cedar Pencils (1004) are a set of five round, natural 7-inch cedar pencils without erasers similar to those used in England and imported to the American colonies during the 18th century. Pencils of this nature would have had to be sharpened by whittling or cutting one end with a knife. No pencil sharpeners for those colonists! Pencils are neatly wrapped in a parchment history sheet.”

Nonetheless, I was tickled enough to grab a pack for myself/the site and for my baby daughter’s growing collection/arsenal of pencils.  I haven’t sharpened them yet, but I’m getting severely tempted — with a knife, of course.

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