Yard-O-Led is a famous writing implement manufacturer. For those who appreciate graphite writing implements, their products have a unique appeal. The company’s original offering, the mechanical pencil, is still made in historic styles and formats by a team of six in Birmingham, England. Unlike many other fine writing implement manufacturers, their pencils are not derivatives of a pen offering – the pencils have a unique mechanism and format which has remained essentially unchanged from 1934 to the present.
This particular pencil was chosen carefully. Though other traditional formats appealed to me, my experience with a vintage Yard-O-Led pencil indicated that some were a bit hard to hold in my hand. I wanted this pencil for daily use, and not to be banished to a shelf. For me, the Edwardian pencil got it right – round, heavy, with a long tapering that allows for a wide variety of comfortable grips.
The weight is 45 grams! Consider that a modern woodcase pencil is about 4g, and a large modern metal pencil like the Porsche Design P’3120 is 30g – the Edwardian is a substantial heavyweight. Yet the weight is nicely balanced, and the 134mm long pencil is comfortable to hold.
The body is sterling silver, with a barleycorn pattern finish. The nose has a very long taper. There is a clip with serial number and the “Yard-O-Led” name. The flat top cap is marked “Made in England”.
The barleycorn has two interruptions – a space for hallmarks, and a space suitable for engraving.
The cap twists to extend and retract the 1.18mm lead. An advantage of the twist mechanism is the ability to retract the lead.
The lead refill mechanism is much smoother and more usable than on the vintage pencil, which should not be a surprise. The instruction booklet is still welcome – it isn’t a typical refill system for 2009.
I have been using the pencil at work for about one month. While one month is not a long period of time for a pencil that truly was made to last for years, I’ll say that I am absolutely delighted with it. It writes, looks, and feels like something special – which it is.
The pencil is not inexpensive, yet I have no trouble saying it is definitely worth the price. In fact I regret having purchased so many cheaper mechanical pencils the last few years (especially those aimed purely at drafting purposes) – most are now stashed away unused in drawers, and cost in aggregate much more than this Yard-O-Led.
The guarantee states that Yard-O-Led pencils with serial numbers will always be serviced, and there is ample testimony around that the manufacturer faithfully honours this statement.
It will not be my last Yard-O-Led!
Previous post at pencil talk on a vintage Yard-O-Led pencil. That post was privileged to receive a comment from Mr. Colin Keates, the grandson of Yard-O-Led founder Ludwig Brenner.