Review of Musgrave Bugle.

It’s been a long time since we’ve featured a plain-old-fashioned pencil review. Our first was published just over a decade ago, and tonight’s pencil boasts similar Woodgrain Goodness. We are checking out the Musgrave Bugle.

I bought a few of these on each of my three visits to CW Pencil Enterprise this past spring, and I gave away all but three. I ordered a dozen yesterday to restock, and I regret that I didn’t order double or triple that.

I might have a difficult time explaining why, but I love this pencil. First, there is the handsome woodgrain. I am a sucker for Wood On Display (WOD) in pencils. This pencil is unfinished at both ends and has a clear, glossy finish. The printing is in white and is stamped quite deeply into the wood. While I might have just been using a particularly well-stamped individual pencil lately, the printing stays put, unlike the Disappearing Stamp on the Bugle’s Ugly Cousin. I imagine Thoreau pencils looking similarly to this pencil — clear-finished, round, simple. And the idea of a Bugle brings to mind Reveille (and Boy Scout camp), which makes me think of the Morning and my favorite Chanticleer, Mr. Henry.


I should stop and point out that this pencil is made in the USA and costs only a quarter. That’s right.


Writing with this pencil is comfortable, due to the round shape, though it can get a little slippery. This could very well be an illusion brought on by the fact that a lot of the pencils that I like which look like wood are unfinished and feel like wood. It could be that my hands are slippery when I read.

I am pretty sure that the wood is not cedar. It lacks a discernible aroma, and I suspect it is made from basswood.

The core is a pleasant change from a lot of the other pencils in my rotation this month. While it is probably  not entirely unwaxed, the core in the Bugle has an only slightly waxy feel to it. It brings to mind a darker and less scratchy version of the Field Notes pencil. Smearing and erasability are about average for this level of darkness, but ghosting is very good. Point retention is a stand-out in this pencil, as a few weeks of casual use has only required 4 or 5 minor sharpening jobs on this pencil. Darkness remains in the grey area, rather than a shade of black. It’s about as dark as a Mexican-made Dixon, but certainly not as dark as a Japanese HB or even a General’s Cedar Pointe.


This has been my go-to reading pencil in August, as I attempt to stick with my six monthly pencils, at least this once. I finished a picture book/essay about Hemingway today, and I found the aesthetic of this pencil suits a Papa Frame of Mind also. I have this pencil lined up for my next foray into fiction, when I gather the Necessary Trio of time, energy and cojones.


Until the 14th, CWP has free shipping to this country, and you’ve probably been eyeing a few other pencils there as well. So go ahead and get a dozen. I am crossing my fingers that my own dozen of these will come in a cool box. But Musgrave’s generally terrible packaging makes me believe otherwise. Still, at the price of this pencil, it would be no great loss. Wait, it would be. There are few things that are quite like a well-printed pencil box. Nonetheless, unless you hate round or Naked A$$ed Pencils (NAP), pick some up some of these Chanticleer-esque pencils. They might brighten your morning.

9 thoughts on “Review of Musgrave Bugle.”

  1. That’s a good-looking pencil. Despite the recent disappearance of US-made pencils from most office supply, big-box and grocery stores where I live, it’s good to remember that there are still pencils being made here. I recently ran across a bunch of cedar #2 General Supremes (550) for $2.50/doz. at a university bookstore, which write as well or better than Chinese Ticonderogas (and vintage Mongols, for that matter). I wish retailers would be a little more conscientious about supporting what’s left of the U.S. pencil makers.

    1. In retrospect, I realize that it may seem a little ungracious to use a post on a Musgrave as a springboard for praising a competitor (General), so I’d like to plug the Musgrave My-Pal 2020. I bought a dozen of these for my daughter and liked them so much I added 2 doz. more to a recent order. They’re just slightly oversized @ ~8.3mm, very comfortable in the hand, leave a nice dark classic graphite line and don’t wear too fast (last longer than the Test Scoring 100). At $2.25/doz these are great “user” pencils, for writing or the shop.

  2. It is sad that such great pencils never make it to mainstream office supply stores. Few people ever have the chance to find out about them. I’m not sure why Musgrave and General’s don’t publicize their products more or make them more widely available.

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