Happy Birthday, Mr. Thoreau.

On this day in 1817, one of my heroes was born: Henry David Thoreau (born David Henry). Thoreau’s contributions to pencil making in America are well documented. He developed (whether by himself or via a book is debated) the clay/graphite core and grading system that survives in the United States, and he invented a way to grind graphite more finely.

For more great information on Thoreau and pencils, Comrades are urged to check out The Days of Henry Thoreau and also Prof. Petroski’s The Pencil.

More also at La Vie Graphite (including photos of an actual Thoreau pencil) and also at Pencil Revolution, on Thoreau’s surveys and the machine in the wetland.

(Pencil in top photo is available at the gift shop at Walden Pond and was purchased in summer 2011.)

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