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Red and Blue pencils IV – Viarco

Must a successful pencil manufacturing business be part of a multinational conglomerate? Is there any room for smaller firms in the current marketplace?

Many of us may not have heard of Viarco. They are a 94 year old pencil company from João da Madeira, Portugal, who produce a wide range of pencils – writing pencils, drawing pencils, carpenter’s pencils, and yes, even copying pencils and red and blue pencils – with a staff of twenty-eight!

Their website is a breath of fresh air compared to many pencil industry sites, revealing considerable pride in their history, as well as many details about the pencil manufacturing process. Sample fact – graphite cores are baked at 1020ºC.

I was really happy when Gunther kindly sent me a couple of Viarco’s red and blue pencils.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

The pencils are the 289 Viarco Comercial (regular size, hexagonal) and 293 Viarco Olimpico (oversize, hexagonal).

The lead centering isn’t the best.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

My first pleasant surprise was realized while attempting to sharpen the Comercial – it doesn’t fit in some sharpeners! It is the unreformed size of pencils that were made fifty years ago, though the edges are rounded, like modern pencils.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

Both the Comercial and Olimpico sharpened easily. I don’t know what wood they use, but it looks like cedar to me.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

The second surprise was the rich, vibrant marks they make. The Olimpico in particular is among the best of the red and blue pencils I’ve yet seen. The Comercial’s blue is also good, but the red is more of a red-orange.

If I could buy them locally, I would get a huge stash of the Olimpico. It writes extremely well, and is very easy to use. Some of the other red and blue pencils I’ve seen, like colour pencils in general, have a tendency for the leads to easily break – but not the Viarco pencils.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

I’ve tried to email Viarco more than once, and haven’t yet heard from them. That’s okay. With twenty-eight employees, I imagine that their correspondence staff might be busy in the paint booth, or be driving a forklift.

Viarco Red and Blue pencils

So about our original questions – let’s hope there is still room for great smaller manufacturers like Viarco, who have done a great job with these pencils.

Further on red and blue pencils:

From penciltalk.org:
Red and Blue pencils
Red and Blue pencils II
Television! (The Conté Television 649 red and blue pencil)

From stdk.de:
Rot-Blau-Stifte

7 comments to Red and Blue pencils IV – Viarco

  • José Paulo Soares

    I’m portuguese and a young pencil collector; i have scheduled a visit to Viarco factory with the general maneger and I will try to speed the answer to your questions.Interesting article and very interesting site.

  • José, thank you for your comment.

    Viarco-Indústria de Lápis has since responded to my email. It isn’t yet clear if they will sell pencils to me (in Canada), but they did eventually reply to my messages.

    From what I can tell, they are pursuing a dual strategy of making traditional pencil formats, like these blue and red pencils, while investing in modernizing their production equipment. It seems like a good strategy to me.

    A pencil factory tour sounds great! I hope it is enjoyable.

  • Hi! Like José i’m also from Portugal and a passionate for pencils, i collect lead holders and i have a special interest in wood case pencils because i’m an artist. I draw and i paint, and pencils are essential to my work, i
    couldn’t live without them.
    “Pencil Talk” became an important reference to me, you do a great work here and this pages are a breath of fresh air. In this modern world dominated by high-end technologies and where hand writing is becoming obsolete, we must never forget that Mankind greatest achievement it’s WRITING, and most probably our first great invention, the wheel, had to be drawn by hand!
    About this pencil, the “Viarco Olimpico”, i could send you some. If you’re really interested please send me an e-mail.

  • Thanks for your kind remarks, Ricardo.

    It took a while, but Viarco did in the end sell me some pencils, I have (in another post) mentioned their copying pencil, and will discuss some others in the future.

  • NIKOLAI GOODMAN

    TO THE GENTLEMAN RICARDO JORGE, YOU SAY THAT YOU COLLECT PENCIL HOLDERS. I AM SEEKING FULL-LENGTH STANDARD PENCIL-HOLDERS, WHICH WILL HELP PREVENT A PENCIL FROM BREAKING DURING USE. I USE THE PENCILS WITH NO WOODEN CASE, THE PURE PIGMENT PENCILS, WHICH ARE THE SAME SIZE AS STANDARD OFFICE PENCILS, AND THEY A VERY BREAKABLE. PLEASE LET ME KNOW, IF YOU HAVE A PENCIL-HOLDER THAT CAN PROTECT A FULL-LENGTH STANDARD PENCIL, AND IF I CAN BUY IT SOMEWHERE. THANK YOU, MR. NIKOLAI GOODMAN, SEATTLE, USA. nikolaigoodman@yahoo.ca

  • i am looking for a good copying pencil for the tattoo industry, and it seems the Viarco Comercial blue is that pencil. the lead must transfer for paper to the skin with the help of moisture. how can i buy these pencils? samples would be helpful. superior tattoo, 6501 n. black canyon highway. phoenix, arizona 85015, attn. jim

  • Pedro Almeida

    To Jim Watson

    You can now order the Viarco pencils from their recent on-line store.

    This is the link: http://lojaonline.viarco.pt/

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