Hayakawa tribute pencil

In 1915, Tokuji Hayakawa invented the “Ever-Sharp” or “supply-type” mechanical pencil. Along with a belt buckle and water faucet, it was part of a stream of inventions that launched what would become the Sharp Electronics company.

The pencil was not well received at first – Sharp’s website mentions that the pencil was said to feel cold in winter, and clash with Japanese clothing in appearance. Still, Sharp claims overseas orders led to success. (Though US success is questioned in an article by fountain pen dealer Mr. Nishimura of vintagepens.com.)

The pencil received a US patent in 1926:

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

The story is tinged with deep tragedy. The Great Kant? earthquake in 1923 killed Hayakawa’s wife and children, as well as destroying the factory. The rights to the pencil were subsequently sold.

Platinum Pen Co. has decided to celebrate this history with a reproduction of Hayakawa’s seminal pencil. I don’t know if Platinum has a formal relationship with Sharp or other firms that dealt with Hayakawa. The pencil doesn’t seem to be widely available, and I can find no mention on Platinum’s website.

The pencil is presented in a very plain yet elegant wooden box.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

The spirals, cap, and two-tone clip are all prominent features. One can read “Platinum Japan 0.5” in fine lettering.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

The 0.5mm lead is advanced by twisting the cap. The original pencil no doubt used a wider lead.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

The balance point seems a bit higher up than other pencils I am familiar with.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

I have no idea about the internal mechanisms, and if they reproduce the original.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

The pencil handles and writes well, and the shape is certainly more comfortable than expected. I don’t know if the dimensions match the original.

Platinum Hayakawa tribute pencil

I applaud this tribute to Mr. Hayakawa’s creation and the history of the mechanical pencil. The lettering and lead diameter (I hope) distinguish the pencil from the original.

References and further reading:

1. Platinum Pen Company

2. Hayakawa’s US patent Note: the document is in TIFF format, which requires special software to read.

3. A Tale of Two Pencils: Keeran’s Eversharp & Hayakawa’s Ever-Ready Sharp

4. Sharp Electronics page on Hayakawa’s pencil

5. Osaka Business Update, Vol. 3, 2006 – Great People of Osaka

15 Replies to “Hayakawa tribute pencil”

  1. This pencil is more than cool IMHO – it’s wunderbar. (sorry about that, couldn’t find a better word for it). I have something with vintage pencils – I like them, but they usually doesn’t work all that well, and supplies are not easy to come by. The fact, that it takes 0.5 mm leads makes it practically perfect in every way :).
    I want one too (- when I can afford it.)
    Nice find.
    Regards Henrik

  2. Now seriously… Is this even for sale? How much is it, and where can I get one?

    I’m the price will be exorbitant, if it is even available at all. But this looks like it came right out of the LOTR series, like it is the work of the same blacksmith who created the magical swords in the books.

    Ángel.

  3. Ángel, thanks for the comment. I like your description! The pencil is certainly for sale in Japan, at a price that I would describe as much less than what Faber-Castell or Caran d’Ache charge for their offerings.

  4. Thanks for that information, 2nd_astronaut.

    I should mention that this design (the patent is probably long expired) is also made by others. I bought such a pencil recently, and it is not at all in the same league (construction, finish, appearance) as the pencil in this post. Look for the “Platinum Japan 05” marking. Buyer beware!

  5. Came across this site while researching my next pencil – what a great place! This pencil may be just what I was looking for. I know this is an old post but -I was wondering if you would care to comment on it’s build/construction ? – does it “feel” solid, does it rattle/feel loose?

    Thanks.

  6. Hi watcher,

    As it should, the pencil feels solid and well made. I can hear the spare leads rattle if I vigorously shake the pencil, but the pencil itself seems well constructed. Now I haven’t put it to much use – it is is admittedly more of a collectable than a daily use item for me.

    I’ve made arrangements to purchase the alternate version that 2nd_astronaut mentioned, so that confidence also reflects my reaction. Please note that there are other pencils in this style that aren’t nearly as well made – this one is from “Platinum”.

  7. Thank’s for the reply – I should have specified that it is indeed the one in 2nd_astronaut’s link that I am thinking about. I am looking for something heavy, and sturdy, prefere this for some reason. A yard-o-led pencil would have been ideal, however I am worried about the led size (to thick for me I think)… enough of my ramblings – Thanks again and thanks for a great site!

  8. What a nice pencil! Also it costs much less than equivalent pencils from Faber-Castell as you said. Do you use it often? :)

    I have been trying to resist buying it for 2-3 days now :D

  9. In 1906, Eduard Slavoljub Penkala invented the “automatic pencil”. Along with the solid-ink fountain pen in 1907 and hot water bottle, it was part of a stream of inventions that launched what would become Toz Penkala.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmvT10rfmQo
    I’ve always wondered why Penkala is not wide mentioned, at least in western world as the mechanical or propelling pencil inventor when his patent (Patent office in Budapest No. 36946 and England 3690/1906 and 183242) preceded Keeran’s Eversharp & Hayakawa’s Ever-Ready Sharp. I’ve been unable to locate Penkala name on specialized sites like leadholder and alike but there’s even a Penkala Writing Instruments book. The fountain pens are beautiful, specially the old ones.
    As kiwi-d writes, what a finish!
    The important thing is that Pankala still make what we most like, Woodcased Pencils.
    http://www.toz-penkala.hr/o-nama TOZ stands for “Tvornica olovaka Zagreb,” which means “Zagreb pencil factory.” I want to try them.

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