One of the most referenced posts at this blog was on a pencil series made from multiple species of wood by the former Colleen Pencil Co. One of the regular subjects of direct queries to the blog, the top question is “Where can I buy a set?” Unfortunately, the pencils were never available for retail sale, and Colleen has been out of business for many years.
The appeal of the pencils has led me to some informal discussions with pencil companies about what would be involved in creating a new set. What I’ve heard is that using alternate species would be technically challenging, and possibly damaging to carefully tuned pencil manufacturing equipment. For a niche product, even an investigation might not be worthwhile.
Yet, one major manufacturer seems to have had a renewed interest in testing their ability to make truly beautiful and amazing pencils from exotic wood species. This year, Caran d’Ache unveiled Les crayons de la maison Caran d’Ache, a series of pencils made from Titanium Oak, Macassar Ebony, Lati Gray, and American Walnut.
A note about the photo – I had already used all four pencils before taking photos, so that isn’t the factory sharpening we see.
If you love beautiful pencils, I cannot imagine that you would not find these amazing. My personal favourite is the Walnut pencil. I enjoyed using it to take notes, and felt quite aware that it has a dual identity – an undeniable luxury, yet still, just a woodcase pencil.
A review at Lexikaliker pointed out some technical shortcomings such as off-centred lead. I didn’t observe this in my pencils, and in any case I believe the achievement in creating an Oak or Walnut pencil is such that I’ll forgive small flaws.
L. to R.: Ebony, Lati, Walnut, Oak
Yes, I have sharpened one (so far), the Macassar Ebony, using a handheld M+R:
Highly recommended for all pencil aficionados.