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Dixon Ticonderoga Noir pencil

Dixon Ticonderoga Noir pencil

Has Dixon gone too far in extending the Ticonderoga brand?

Fort Ticonderoga has played a part in French, British, and especially American history. It played a landmark role in the American revolution. The Ticonderoga pencil has been named and marketed such that its identity is inextricably bound with this history. Dixon, dating from the 18th century, was itself a part of American history. Some would call the Dixon Ticonderoga successful branding.

Dixon Ticonderoga Noir pencil

Dixon Ticonderoga Noir pencil

So when Dixon releases a pencil like the Ticonderoga Noir, a Made in China garish fluorescent silver finish pencil with black dyed wood, I have to ask, have they strayed too far from the Ticonderoga brand and tradition? If they felt they had to release such a pencil, did they have to do it in the Ticonderoga name?

Am I being too harsh? Do you like this pencil? Would you buy it?

44 comments to Dixon Ticonderoga Noir pencil

  • :::cough:::Actually, I have a few dozen. :)

    I love them. I love silver pencils, and I love black wood. The lead is good. The eraser, not so much.

    Downsides: The silver paint is thin and dings easily in my pencil case, and the signature green-and-yellow ferrule is hideously out of place with the silver and black. But it writes well, and did I mention I like silver and black? :)

  • Wil

    phew. For a second I thought you were actually going to vouch for these pencils. I think you’re being too kind by even posting about them. I would’ve just let them slide into oblivion…

  • I’m not really all that familiar with Dixon, but it certainly does tend to imply that Dixons owners do not see Ticonderoga as a premium brand. Many of their recent actions seem to indicate they are going for the middle/low segment of the market.

  • Baker

    Awful. Make them stop.

  • I ordered these online a while back because I was excited about the black wood. I didn’t realize the silver was so garish until I opened the box. Plain slver would have been OK but the rainbow reflections are too much.

  • Okay, I’m lonely.

  • Didn’t Dixon say a few years back that they were never going to abandon their US manufacturing base?

  • Kelly

    The whole point is that they are over the top. They always get attention. I have one I got from Pencil Things in a Pencil of the Month package, and it always gets noticed. Garish is good.

  • I suspect they’re designed for kids/teenagers, the age group who bought the Yikes! pencils and erasers.

    (Er, not that that says anything about me.)

  • My thanks to all the commenters. There seem to be a couple of different discussions here.

    First, the pencil itself. There is nothing wrong with novelty and entertainment focused pencils. They may not appeal to everyone, but they have their market, which seems to include both young people and the young at heart.

    Second, the brand. Maybe it isn’t a concern for many, but this pencil seems to share little other than the name with traditional Dixon Ticonderogas. I don’t know what segment of the market has loyalty to the Ticonderoga, but won’t some of these new brand extensions potentially push away existing customers?

  • But why would a line extension that you consider ugly or cheap push you away from the standard yellow Ticonderoga if you don’t consider it ugly or cheap and you’re loyal to it? I used to be loyal to the Mirado Black Warrior, but in the past 8 years the actual product degenerated. Whatever else Papermate slapped the Mirado name on wouldn’t bother me; the decline in Black Warrior quality did.

  • Hmm, I think the overall “name” can mean something to some consumers, apart from the relationship they may have with the specific product(s). In consumer electronics, for example, the brand sometimes “is” the product. If Apple released a beige discount PC, would it upset the people who own the fancy stuff? You bet it would. Not all of them, but some number would not like it, and finding the brand value diminished, not buy Apple again.

  • I don’t understand the logic of the name. The black wood of the pencil is overwhelmed by the silver paint, which has nothing to do with “noir.” To me, marketing this pencil is “noir” is analogous to selling a yellow pencil by touting its “natural wood.”

    The black Ticonderoga is a lot more “noir” than this pencil.

  • I dunno. I’ve been an Apple user since 1995, and from the lists I’m on I gather it would take a lot to get people to give it up.

    Besides, I just think a pencil’s different. Electronics are complicated, and some brands are known for being better at it than others. To most, a pencil is a pencil. I guess I don’t see them as apples/apples enough to make the comparison.

    Now if Faber-Castell did something like this . . . :)

    (But I still like my silver iridiscent Noirs.)

  • If they wrote well, I could see the appeal. the ferrule’s clash with the silver is just so awful, though. Starting a whole other brand seems like it would have made more sense, both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of business, but what do I know?

  • I agree with the ferrule clashing. It’s also bad on the red and purple Ticonderoga checking pencils. I can’t figure out how they can’t see that. But I can hear someone saying of the green and yellow, “But it’s OUR brand.”

  • I would buy them. I almost bought some yesterday but bought some other pencils instead and would have bought both but I didn’t have enough money with me. In the spirit of free exchange of ideas, every pencil has value because it has been produced and already a part of history.

  • Taylor

    I agree with the commenter that mentioned this is is probably a pencil for the younger demographic. If this introduces them to the Ticonderoga brand, then I think it is smart marketing.

  • Dave

    The Ticonderoga Noirs are the best Dixon pencils currently available in the USA. Sad but true – because the made in Mexico Dixon Tikes in yellow and black are just terrible – quality wise. The Noirs have a wonderfully dark lead and while some people may find the colors jaring (I don’t) – it’s a pencil, and it writes well.

    My complaints with the product though – they are expensive, and considering they dont have cedar wood, I think it is misleading to call that pencil a Ticonderoga.

  • Spazdor

    YOU GUYS ARE HAVING A LONG, INVOLVED DISCUSSION ABOUT PENCIL MANUFACTURERS AND BRAND LOYALTY.

    I just wanted to remind everyone of this hilarious fact, in case you’ve forgotten.

  • And now you are participating, Spazador. :-)

  • Dave – Part of the reason I have so many is that Office Depot had a brief, back-to-school timed sale on them – a dozen for 99 cents.

    I believe it was Woodchuck who said that he didn’t know of any cedar pencils dyed black like the Noirs or the Rhodias. Not sure what they are. Basswood seems more popular these days . . .

  • I’m not a big fan of the Ticonderoga line to begin with, does anyone else here find the lead to have an unpleasant feel when writing? I much prefer the original (cheaper) Dixon 14402 pencils that write with a crisp finish. If anyone knows of a pencil that writes like a 14402 and has the superior quality eraser inherent to the Ticonderoga line (I push too hard when I write), please let me know!

    That said, in and of itself, I have no problem with a flashy stylish pencil.

  • I was just at a staples today and it looks like “ticonderoga” is the new name that they are using on everything. There were ticonderoga permanent markers, red pencils, the old oriole is now a “dixon by ticonderoga” and i swear there were dey erase markers too…
    Sad to see a once proud name slapped all over chinese goods having little to nothing to do with the name invoked.

  • Dana

    pencil is fabulous! very chic and makes writing with a boring old pencil so much fun!!!

  • Jack Mehoff

    i actually like these pencils. they perform well but the eraser is kinda bad. The design is cool looking. everything is good except the eraser, it works but not as well as others.

  • Monique

    My husband just bought these … he’s not in the younger demographic; he’s pushing 50. But then he is someone who is easily impressed with new, garish coloring. I thought this was something limited to breakfast cereals and Oreo cookie fillings, but he showed the same child-like enthusiasm when he brought home the pencils. They do write nicely, and the lead is well centered (my biggest pencil pet peeve). My seven year old daughter likes them too. While my husband was at work, she ground several of them up in the pencil sharpener, and then excitedly showed me the “coffee grounds” she made with them. She did not use them for their intended purpose as her homework was done in in colored pencil, each word another color.

  • Monique, thanks for sharing this great anecdote!

  • I actually bought a box of these *because* of the garish rainbowness, knowing full well that it’s silly. For me it’s making a statement though, that I will not be ashamed of my choice of implement, but celebrate it; and likewise, to shamelessly celebrate the art I make with it. Besides, I like the look on people’s faces when I whip out a silver-rainbowed mundane writing implement. If they don’t see that a pencil is a magic wand then they’re not looking at it hard enough. ; )

    I’ve only used one so far but it’s holding up well. Shaded half an ocean with it.

  • I just discovered that Dixon issued a press release (PDF format) regarding this pencil.

    Some key excerpts:

    DIXON TICONDEROGA ANNOUNCES RETRO ELEGANCE PENCIL

    HEATHROW, FLA. (July 10, 2007) – The Dixon Ticonderoga Company, America’s number one #2 pencil company, introduces its latest innovation in pencil design, the chic Ticonderoga® Noir. This retro-looking pencil sports a unique, luxurious holograph design that appears crystal on the exterior while the pencil remains black when sharpened due to the premium stained black wood filling the center of the pencil’s barrel. The Ticonderoga Noir pencil also has a latex free eraser, guaranteeing smudge free correction.

    and …

    “The Ticonderoga Noir is an elite writing instrument that exudes retro elegance,” said Donald Currie, EVP Sales & Marketing. “Handwriting has become somewhat of a lost craft, and Dixon Ticonderoga is excited to provide a pencil that adds a little pizzazz to penmanship with the Ticonderoga Noir’s polished design. It is a pencil with style.”

    Even more than calling this “retro elegance”, I like the “America’s number one #2 pencil company” phrase!

  • ok .. so I found fellow pencil geeks…. just to make you envious .. I went to an estate sale a few years back and bought a few hundred old pencils .. the best are made in USA Dixon “operators pencil – 300″ they are great.. the lead seems thicker than normal .. so the point is really extended when sharpened.

  • Jack

    OK…new post to an old thread but on the whole examples of premium brands screwing up on putting their name on an inferior product I have but two words: Cadillac Cimarron

  • bakde

    I love this pencil! My Scholastic Bowl team (6th & 7th graders) love to use this silver pencil at their meets. Good luck charm or something. They always grab these out of my pencil case first. My 5th graders took the ISAT tests with these pencils last week. (But an earlier comment about the erasers must be true, some of the erasers are gone already.) Nevertheless, Ticonderoga Noir – the best!

  • I’m a huge Ticonderoga fan. My students use my Ticonderoga (yellow & green) pencils for their state testing because they are the best. I initially purchased the Noir pencils because I would quickly realize that one of my pencils was ‘borrowed’ by a student, but I very quickly realized that they were excellent pencils. I don’t even mind the eraser, though it isn’t the best part of the pencil. I’ve now purchased many dozens and plan to purchase many more. The cost is a bit high, but you can usually find a better price on-line.
    I must admit that I also think it is funny that there is a website called ‘pencil talk’…I thought only I was this loopy. It is good to know that I’m not alone! I could lie and say that I purchased them for my students, but they aren’t allowed to touch them. These pencils are to remain tooth-mark and booger free, thank you. After all, we’re talking about Ticonderoga Noir pencils!

  • Paul, thanks for your comment. Hope you don’t mind if I try to forget some of that imagery. :-)

  • Austin Hamm

    Best Pencils
    1. Ticonderoga Noir
    2. Ticonderoga Black
    3. Black Warrior
    4. Princess
    5. Papermate
    6. Roseart

  • Evil

    Noirs rule!

  • JayBird

    I purchased a box because of the Ticonderoga name, as it was the only name that my wife would use, when an office supply store was liquidating and they were the only Ticonderoga pencils remaining. While, in appearance-ferrule excluded, they don’t remind me of the classic Ticonderoga, they do uphold the quality tradition of their namesake. The writing is smooth and you can produce a thick and dark line without tearing through the newspaper. I don’t think this pencil will push people away from the brand if they either allow themselves to experience the product or can be made aware of its high quality. Since Dixon hasn’t taken away the yellow Ticonderoga adding the Noir to the lineup shouldn’t turn people away from the brand (it’s not inferior nor is it cheaper).

  • Dan Lafond

    I’m doing a project on Dixon Ticonderoga pencils and this discussion has really helped me out. It made me laugh for like an hour. I had no idea that normal people knew this much about pencils.

  • Tara

    I bought these pencils once mostly because I thought that they were really pretty. Who really cares if the colors contrast slightly??? It’s not like Dixon’s going to stop making a popular pencil because a few people don’t like the eraser, or don’t like the color contrast, or don’t like the wood because it’s “not loyal to the Ticonderoga name brand cedar wood”. That’s a bunch of pointless poo-ey. :P

    I do like that Ticonderoga is stretching its legs a bit with new designs like the Triconderoga and Renew, and Noir. I bet some people (me) were getting a bit tired with the traditional yellow pencil.

    Here’s the dealio: if you don’t like the pencil, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. :P
    But I like it.

    P.S. I am also glad that more people are OCD-ish about pencils like I am! I thought I was crazy for a second there…and no, it’s not JUST a pencil…

  • 90spencilmachine

    I guffawed at “America’s number one #2 pencil,” as well! It seems the folks at Dixon Ticonderoga have quite a sense of humor.

    The first time I saw the Noir was at a family member’s house- it was alone, on a desk near a pencil cup full of bland pencils and pens. Naturally, it caught my eye, as it’s shiny and anything shiny pretty much pulls the eye to it. My initial thought was a reverence for its originality- not so much that a shiny, rainbow pencil is original, but in that very mature form, it is. I read the writing so I could get a pack for myself. Then I forgot the name, just new it was a Ticonderoga. That’s actually how I came upon this site, and I thank you for that! I bought 4 packs at Office Depot, very thankful that they were still in stock.

    I think they are great- Out of all the pencils I have, they are one of my favorites to use. The lead is 100 times smoother than my older Black Miradoes, and the eraser is not quite as horrible as people have been saying. I find it only a little less effective than the pink pearl, and clean-up is better than the pink pearl (clean-up of eraser bits, that is.) The foil does scratch easily, and can tear in an unattractive way if you don’t sharpen it just so, but the wood is attractive and to me it feels like cedar. It may not be, as it doesn’t smell of incense cedar, but it isn’t that far off. I suppose it’s a pine, but at any rate, not bad quality.

    I must say my favorite pencils to write with are the following (keep in mind I have not tried that many, and most are simple office pencils) the old Sanford Americans, Megabrands, Ticonderogas, Mirado Classic and Mirado Black Warrior. I also am a fan of Venus leads.

  • daniel

    I found one at school on the ground.

  • I think it’s time to close comments.