Pencil Rescue.

Something that pops up fairly often on the Erasable Podcast Facebook group is the idea of rescuing a pencil. Folks find abandoned pencils in school yards, on the ground, on public transportation, and in other people’s houses. I like the idea of taking something that’s been reduced to a stick of wood and returning it back to its intended purpose as a useful object.

With that in mind, I rescued this pencil last night from my favorite restaurant. Our kind server brought a cup of crayons for my kids to color with, as she does almost every week when we go there. This time, there were two beat up old pencils, with no eraser left, in the cup too. I rescued the one pictured above, in return for three new pencils that I left behind.

So far as I can tell, this Mirado is at least 15 years old. It is made in the USA and still smells good. A few years ago, I found some other pencils at my parents house which were branded by Sandford, before the company changed over their wooden pencil branding to PaperMate. The box from those pencils says 1999.

Of course, a few turns in my key chain sharpener, and this old Mirado is ready to resume its service. I love that about pencils; they are always ready to re-enter service, with just a small amount of attention, if not affection.

Do Comrades have stories of pencils rescued?

Construction Markings.

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We have a Dispatch from Comrade Dan, featuring graphite markings from a garage’s construction:
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“Found these markings under door stop strips on the interior side of a garage door. They were probably written some 75 to 80 years ago and appeared as if only scribbled on yesterday. The first and last pics are of measurements and the second and third are, I believe, either the signature of the carpenter or the carpenter’s name penciled on by the yard for his order. I run into this quite often but this was the first time I thought to take a picture of it.”
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Many thanks to Dan, and I hope we get more of these in the future!
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Another Kind of Perfect Pencil.

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My friend Paul brought me this when he came to meet Henry a few weeks ago: a vintage novelty pencil that bills itself as the Perfect Pencil. Rather than a Business End which can be sharpened, each end of the pencil looks like this:
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Perhaps most hilarious is the card from the case, which lists this pencil’s perfect uses.
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Curiously, the case the pencil comes in has hinges and a closure like those hardshell cases we had in the 80s which held a few dozen baseball cards (this was back when you could touch your baseball cards with your hands).
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I am tempted to utilize the case, but I remember how durable those cases were back then: not at all.
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I’m not sure how old it is. Any clues?

Your Ivory-Topped Pencils — Mr. Selfridge.

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We caught up on some series we’d missed this spring at Pencil Revolution HQ lately, including the first season of Mr. Selfridge, the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge and his London department store. Being a period drama set in the early 1900s, there are pencils and stationery goodness everywhere.
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Episode seven actually features pencils as part of the plot. Frank Edwards (played by Samuel West) breaks his pencil while trying to get a quotation from Mr. Selfridge on a busy morning.

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He goes to the accessories counter and states, “I’d like a set of your ivory-topped pencils please.”

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These pencils come in an ornate box that is, well, probably the envy of most Comrades reading this site.

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Later, Kitty (Amy Beth Hayes) receives a note and suspects Mr. Edwards. “And look. It’s in pencil — maybe even the one[s] I sold him.”

I hope I’ve avoided spoilers. It’s definitely a show worth checking out!

I fear I’m totally copying from Matthias, who writes the pencil-featuring posts that make me jealous of British television. If so, I do apologize. :)

Mayfield Outpost Garage Sharpener.

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This report is from Comrade Dan, who found this beauty in the Mayfield Outpost (read on below).
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“This has no name or brand markings on it except for the number 5, cast on the main body. This is visible in photo #3. Despite its rough condition, it does work well. A unique feature is the clear-yellowed plastic shavings collector with metal frame. Unsure of age or make.
P.S.: The last photo is kind of a ‘Where’s Waldo?'”

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Click to play Where's the Sharpener?!
Click to play Where’s the Sharpener?!

Basement Sharpener.

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From Comrade Dan:

“In Parkville, in a basement by a work bench…I thought it was a neat, well loved sharpener. Unfortunately it looked as if it hadn’t been used in a while.”

Do other Comrades have strategically placed sharpeners, mounted or otherwise? (I keep a single-burr in my dining room on a bookshelf, where it’s easily accessible from the kitchen or living room.)

Sanford American Pencils: Found at the Folks’ House.


While looking for pink pipe-cleaners (!!) today at my parents’ house in Baltimore, I happened upon a box of Sanford American pencils, circa 1999, with half of the dozen left. Two were obviously sharpened with some kind of point-stopped electrical sharpener (which I’m not aware that my parents have ever owned), but the other four were just factory sharpened. I was gladly given the box.

While I grew up with an older version in the 1980s, the color of the paint, the plain ferrule and the typography warm me up on a surprisingly chilly Maryland evening. One is behind my ear right now.

Vintage Sharpener at St. Francis, Baltimore.


Comrade Dan (a very good Comrade of mine) sent some photos of a sharpener at the school he went to, in its present state.

He tells us that this sharpener has been there since he was in school. Mr. Dan and I are…not so young these days; it’s been there for quite some time!

I love the groves worn into the wood from decades of turning the crank.

[Images, D.K., used with kind permission.]

Excellent Vintage Pencils Ads.


From Comrade Brian in Portland Oregon, we have some great scans of vintage pencil ads. Unlike usual, these expand when you click them! Brian writes:

“I found a bunch of pencil adds in some old “Industrial Arts and Vocational Education” magazines from 1951, and thought you might find them interesting, so I scanned some for you. I thought that it was interesting to see these ads, and know that there was once a time and forum for the art of the pencil in its different amalgamations and uses.”

Many thanks to Brian for always being on the lookout for great pencil stuff!