Review of Musgrave Bugle.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Nice September Afternoon.

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This was a few weeks ago. I took advantage of the house being empty for an hour or two and watched Hemingway & Gellhorn. It wasn’t great.

It Started Ten Years Ago Today.

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I was reading this book and bought these pencils. And my love of our Graphite Warrior was born.

Check out the old review of these pencils, and if you haven’t read A Moveable Feast, move yourself to get a copy somehow and read it.

Next week, Pencil Revolution turns nine years old.

What’s the Point of Pencils?

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If you are enjoying our Erasable, you might also enjoy a listen to this program which features some fine Comrades of Pencildom.
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Also, have you heard episode 8 of Erasable yet? There’s information about a nice giveaway at the end. We present the first round of Pencil Heroes. I picked Hemingway, of course.

Finally, do join our new Erasable Podcast Pencil Community group for the growing discussion of All Things Pencil.

Hemingway Scrapbooks Made Public!

EHC385tApologies that this took so long to get out (and many Comrades probably already know about it, but just in case…). But, as Brian tells us, Hemingway’s family scrapbooks are not just available to the public. They are digitized and available to view for free online via the JFK Library, home to the Hemingway Collection! Check out the scrapbooks, where it looks like many passages are written in pencil. (And look at how that ink has faded!)

[Image credit.]

The Great Gatsby, in Pencil.

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Via Comrade Cory Röth on our Facebook page: The Great Gatsby, in pencil! These images are remarkable! I think Mr. Fitzgerald had considerably better penmanship than our hero, Mr. Hemingway.

Check it out here.

A Few Recent Hemingway Links.

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Heminway is a favorite/hero here at Pencil Revolution HQ. For a break from holiday stress, check out these little distractions.

A break-up letter TO Hemingway.

A get well pictograph from Papa’s WWI drinking buddies.

Post card in Hemingway’s hand — in pencil (?).

(Image, I have no idea. Hope it’s fair to use, since I love it! Click to enlarge.)

Review of Whitelines Perfect Bound Books.

A month or so ago, we received a package of books from Whitelines (see also the US site), a Swedish company who makes very fine books with a unique feature: WHITE LINES. That’s right. The lines are white, while the paper is a very light grey. Does it make a difference to this pencil user? Read on!

Vitals:
Cover Material: Coated cardstock.
Paper: 80 g acid-free; grey-tinted paper with white lines.
Binding: Sewn.
Size: Assorted; A5 and “pocket” as tested.
Page Count: 48/36 sheets (96/72 pages).
Unique Characteristics: White lines on grey paper.
Origin: Sweden.
Availability: Online, even on Amazon.

We were sent two of the Hard Bound books and two of the Perfect Bound books, one each in black and white. What’s immediately striking about Whitelines books is both the color scheme and the construction. Covers are strong. Corners are rounded precisely (even more than Moleskines and Field Notes, to tell the truth). The bindings are tight. The package containing our four review samples was actually pretty badly damaged by the mail service; the stuffing was everywhere from a large hole, etc. The A5 Hard Bound book suffered minor damage, but the A4 Hard Bound book had two corners badly crushed. I know this was not Whitelines’ fault at all. I mention it because, although the package went through hell, the large book’s binding was completely intact. Intact enough that we’ll do a second review of the Hard Bound Whitelines in the near future, featuring more of the company’s history. These books merit it, for sure.

What I’ll mention in this review of the Perfect Bound books is a little about the concept behind Whitelines.

“Whitelines® is the new generation of writing paper. The concept is patented and yet very simple: Since markings from pens are dark they interfere with the traditional dark lines of ordinary paper. On Whitelines® there is no visual interference between the lines and the pen colour. Whitelines® makes your writing and sketches stand out.” (More.)

The lines also disappear under copymachines, and the paper comes lined or with a graph print. We tried both. The graph spacing is just right, and the lines are also very well-spaced for graphite writing.

I have to admit that I was skeptical of two things. First, I didn’t think that slightly grey paper and white lines would really be easier on my eyes. On the contrary, I assumed that they would be more difficult to see (especially since my daughter broke my unbreakable titanium glasses, and I haven’t had time to go to the eye doctor yet). I was also nervous that graphite (which is grey-to-black) would not show up on grey paper very well.

I was wrong on both counts. The lines are not difficult at all to see, and the paper just seems, for lack of a better word, mellow. Rather than shining up at you, begging you to write on it, it’s just grey and relaxed. And, while I was afraid that graphite marks would be more difficult to see, the opposite was somehow true. I checked with my wife, and we both agreed that writing stood out at least as well as on white unlined paper – perhaps more. (If more, don’t ask me how that works. My degrees are in philosophy, not physics or physiology.) In my own experience, the claims of the benefits of Whitelines’ paper prove wonderfully true.

But how does the paper handle graphite? Ghosting is not perfect, but it’s on the better side of standard, that is, very good. Graphite ghosts less than Field Notes (way less than Moleskines) and us up there with much thicker paper like EcoJot‘s recycled paper. To be clear, I’ve never found anything (even cardstock) that doesn’t ghost at least a little with some of my favorite softer pencils. The texture of the paper is similar to a Field Notes book, which is to say smooth, but with a nice tooth. Writing in a Whitelines book is as easy on one’s hands as on the eyes. Aside from Whitelines’ own special features, where this paper really shines is its smearability, which is on par with Rhodia paper – paper that lots of us know is very very smear-proof. It took some very soft leads and hard rubbing to product any smearing at all. In short, Whitelines books have nice paper that resists ghosting and smearing much better than most papers, with gentle white lines and grey paper to boot. You can’t lose.

Add to this the tight and durable binding of the Perfect Bound book (which spent no less than two weeks in my backpack) and the thoughtful sizing, and you’ve got a very nice book. The A5 we tested fits well for meeting and reading notes; that’s what I used it for during the test period. The “pocket” size is similar to a Moleskine or Field Notes, only thicker. The pocket version is no less durable than the A5 version. As we promised Whitelines, I beat them up quite a bit. And they survived, looking pretty new, too. And stylish.

In our up-coming review of the Hard Bound books, we’ll talk about Whitelines’ environmental commitment also. Stay tuned.

Happy Holidays, and Hemingway!


In the spirit of the holidays and of Hemingway (a pencil champion!), we present A Visit from Saint Nicholas, In The Ernest Hemingway Manner, by James Thurber.

“It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them.

The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn’t move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep.”

(Read more.)

Coming up with new versions of this poem of your own is a favorite holiday pastime. I finished my Raven’s Wing Field Notes book yesterday, with my own version in native Baltimorese. But it’s way too foul-mouthed to post here.

Happy Holidays to all!! We’ll be back after the holiday with a look at a pencil-friendly selection of planners/organizers, a review of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener and even an interview with the legendary Pencil Hero Aaron Draplin (of Field Notes!) in the New Year.

Best and warmest wishes to you and to yours, for the best holidays yet.