The USA Gold pencil from Write Dudes. Comrades have probably seen this now ubiquitous yellow pencil around big-box stores and schools. To my knowledge, this is the most widely-available USA-made pencil on this continent. But are they any good?
In short, for their price, target market and audience, yes.
These pencils have a barrel that’s noticeably more narrow than most other pencils. I’m not sure why they are made that way. I have moderately beefy fingers (and hand injuries to boot), but I didn’t find the narrower barrel to be uncomfortable in any way. For reference, they are a bit thinner that the current incarnation of the Castell 9000, which is a little thinner than, say, a Staedtler pencil.
The core! This is a standard HB/#2 core. I can’t tell if the core is waxed or not, but they have a very nice texture and darkness. They feel somewhat like a General’s core, which is to say, not waxy, but not scratchy. The darkness is pleasant, running a nice balance of point retention and darkness. It’s a much better core than the current Ticonderogas from Mexico, both in terms of smoothness and darkness, among cedar pencils found in schools. For being relatively dark, smear resistance is quite good. Our review pack had pretty well-centered cores. A few are perfect, a few “off” enough to be annoying, but none were unusable.
The finish can leave a little to be desired.
The Mega Brands URL detracts the most, making the pencil look a promotional pencil for that website. The foil stamping is inconsistent, though Edit: I heard back from Write Dudes today that they are not going to put the URL on the pencils anymore. This is great news! I do like the fonts and choice of colors. The paint is acceptable for the price, and usually very good. The ferrule features a navy blue band that complements the color of the lacquer nicely; the band is applied evenly.
The erasers are short for some reason, where Dixons are a little long. They perform surprisingly well, especially for an included eraser. If Write Dudes were to remove the website and stamp the pencils a little more neatly, this pencil could certainly compete better with with higher-end pencils. But by no means is the pencil ugly or shoddy.
I was formerly under the impression that the name referred to the color of the paint: yellow-gold. But there are a few other finishes under this series. I assume the defining feature of this series is the incense cedar used in their construction, and that’s a good thing. They sharpen perfectly and smell great.
Seeing as how easily these pencils are obtained and how inexpensive they are, I really hope they stick around. Touring pre-schools lately, I’ve noticed these all over the place. I hope they
take the website URL off of the pencil and perhaps address the stamping issues. However, given the price point, I can certainly live with the stamping.
Many thanks to Write Dudes for the free review samples – and for keeping American produced pencils easy to find!