There is a pencil store…

Seeing is believing. There really is a dedicated pencil store.

CW Pencil Enterprise

We’ve heard about other pencil stores – the famed Gojuon in Tokyo’s Ginza district, Fancy Pencil Land in Chicago, and wasn’t there another novelty store a few years ago? Also, the boutique stores of the pencil companies. But CW Pencil Enterprise (CWPE) is probably the first to stock mainstream woodcase pencils from multiple brands and offer them in a retail environment.

I learned of CWPE some years ago, but having lived in either San Jose or Toronto since they opened, it never seemed accessible to me. The past weekend did afford an opportunity to visit New York City (my first real visit, apart from meetings/passing through).

CW Pencil Enterprise

The store (larger than I expected) is in a neighbourhood that may not be familiar to many visitors. The many photos I’ve seen did make it seem familiar.

CW Pencil Enterprise

The store is a visual delight. Lots of pencils of course.

CW Pencil Enterprise

Drop by if you get the chance.

DOMS enjoys continued success

A decade after a post on the iconic Nataraj 621 pencil, pencil talk was graced with a comment by pencil industry veteran Harshad Raveshia. Mr. Raveshia, an executive at Indian pencil company DOMS, noteworthy commenter at pencil talk, and online friend – shared some major news.

According to Mr. Raveshia, DOMS is poised to soon become India’s largest pencil manufacturer, surpassing Hindustan Pencil.

A recent article in the Economic Times gives some details about the Indian pencil industry. The largest companies are all family managed, but this decade has seen global investments – Kokuyo of Japan taking a majority interest in Camlin in 2011, and FILA of Italy taking majority control of DOMS in 2015. Hindustan is left as the last major Indian owned Indian manufacturer.

The article also shows Tofler revenue and profit graphs – and the profit graph shows increased annual profit for DOMS, while Hindustan and Camlin are just breaking even.

The article mentions another major company that is new to me – Maharashtra Pencils, an OEM manufacturer.

Many Indian pencils are now much easier to acquire in Canada than they were in 2009, but most remain hard to find. I did read of an online seller, Curios India, via Instagram. I requested that they send me a box of each current commercially available pencil.

Careful what you ask for. I received two very full plastic tubs of pencils:

Pencils of India

As a high level summary, this is the cargo list:

Nataraj – 17 boxes
Apsara – 15 boxes
Camlin – 7 boxes
DOMS – 11 boxes

Also, some less familiar brands –

Youva – 1 box
Artline – 3 boxes
Classmate – 2 boxes
Rorito – 3 boxes
Navneet – 1 box

And brands I’m more familiar with:

Faber-Castell – 6 boxes
Mitsubishi – 1 box

Also, various loose erasers and sharpeners were in the package.

So I received 60+ boxes of pencils. Most are rectangular cardboard boxes of ten, but there are also triangular boxes, plastic boxes, and paper wrapped sets.

Pencils of India

The initially exciting products for me are the specialty pencils – steno pencils, copying pencils, red and blue pencils. I also hope there are some quality regular graphite pencils. I’m also curious about the Faber-Castell India products. And – differences between the major manufacturers.

Pencils of India

We’ll take a look at these pencils in future posts. I’ll also mention – this is the largest single pencil haul I’ve acquired since purchasing the Timberlines set in 2008. I hope to find creative ways to share these pencils with others.

La Petite Papeterie Française

Unfortunately, the high quality French stationer La Petite Papeterie Française has announced their closure.

This blog hasn’t formally featured any Petite Papeterie products yet, but a couple have appeared on the Instagram feed. I first learned of them via the Toronto retailer Take Note. Petite Papeterie design and manufacture standard office supplies with high quality materials and strong designs. They’re having a final sale where you can find many items marked down. I suspect this is not the last we’ll hear from them.

Pencils – not historically important?

Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of viewing the British Library exhibit Writing: Making Your Mark. I was fortunate to learn about this event via a post at Bleistift just a few days before my trip.

British Library Making Your Mark
Yes, it was raining.

The exhibit had a wealth of historical artifacts, and traced the written word from Hieroglyphics through to Emoji. Clay tablets, typewriters, ballpoint pens, and word processors were all explored. Accounting was cited as being a key motivator behind the development of written characters.

One thing surprised me – the graphite pencil was missing! The original Biro and modern Bic were both deemed worthy. So was the lithograph. And two or three typewriters. But not the pencil. There was a small display of lead (actual lead, not “lead” as a euphemism for graphite) pencils dating from around the the year 1400, and these no doubt served as a modern pencil forerunner and inspiration.

I though Henry Petroski’s The Pencil had established the pencil’s role in history. But, I’m not a professional curator or historian. I’d love to know why pencils didn’t make the cut.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

If you like pencils, you may have found that their capacity to be sharpened and have their marks erased can result in some unwanted detritus in the form of wood shavings and eraser crumbles. That’s where a desk brush comes in handy. It is a nice accessory for keeping a work area tidy.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

This particular desk brush is from Andrée Jardin, and designed by Amaury Poudray.

The brush has the unexpected quality of being balanced so that it can stand on end. The handle is oak and the bristles are Argentinian horsehair.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

The packaging is simple but appealing:

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau

This particular version with a graphite colour dipped handle is a limited edition, but a number of varieties are available from Andrée Jardin.

Andrée Jardin Brosse de Bureau