Sean Malone

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Sean Malone and Eberhard Faber IV
Sean Malone interviewing Eberhard Faber IV
Absinthetongue, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sean Malone, known in pencil circles as the creator of both Blackwing Pages and Contrapuntalism, has passed away.

There are tributes to Sean at Guitar World and many music websites.

Sean had so many accomplishments. He was a consistently witty, kind, creative, generous and intelligent person. He was also highly successful as a musician. As a member of the band Cynic, he was a performing musician and recording artist with fans around the world.

His passion and accomplishments in music were deeply rooted, with Sean studying and teaching music at several universities. He wrote music books including “Music Theory for Bassists”.

He was also a Glenn Gould scholar and the author of Glenn Gould and the Art of the Fugue and a speaker at Gould conferences.

That Sean took an interest in pencils is our fortune. He took the exploration of pencils to previously unimagined heights, travelling around the US and Germany to get interviews with both Count Anton von Faber-Castell and Eberhard Faber IV, the scions of two branches of the Faber pencil family. If NPR had a funded Pencil Reporter, they could not have done better. But Sean did this out of his own pocket, out of love and intellectual curiosity.

Sean is also the leading historian of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencil. His many articles, typically featuring painstaking original research and fueled by his incredible curiosity, are the foundation of the modern interest in this iconic pencil.

Sean had an incredible energy, wit, kindness, character, and good spirit. I enjoyed talking with him about family, travel, culture, and life. He will be deeply missed.

[Updates]

Other mentions of Sean from the pencil community:

Orange Crate Art

Bleistift

Lexikaliker

Reddit

Non-music film and print publications by Sean or that interview/cite Sean:

Abramovitch, S. (2013) Why Is Hollywood Obsessed With This Pencil? The Hollywood Reporter. [online] Available at https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/blackwing-602-why-is-hollywood-600265 [Accessed 28 Dec. 2020]

Eby, M. (2013) An ode to the Blackwing 602, Vladimir Nabokov’s favorite pencil. New York Daily News. [online] Available at https://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/pageviews/ode-blackwing-602-vladimir-nabokov-favorite-pencil-blog-entry-1.1640869 [Accessed 28 Dec. 2020]

Faber-Castell. (2013) The Fan: The pencil blogger. Faber-Castell Topics [online] Available at https://www.faber-castell.de/~/media/Faber-Castell/press/employees-friends/Newsletter-de-en/Faber_HZ-1-2013_en.ashx 2013:1, p.8. [Accessed 27 Dec. 2020]

Faber-Castell. (2015) Sean Malone visits Eberhard Faber. Faber-Castell: Our Company [online] Available at http://www.faber-castell.com/~/media/Faber-Castell/press/employees-friends/2015/englisch_LR_F-C_HZ_2_2015.ashx 2015:2, p.8. [Accessed 27 Dec. 2020]

Komurki, M. (2016) Stationery Fever: From Paper Clips to Pencils and Everything in Between. [Berlin] Prestel.

Malone, S. (2010-2020) Blackwing Pages. [online] Available at
https://blackwingpages.com/ [Accessed 27 Dec. 2020]

Malone, S. (2010-2020) Contrapuntalism. [online] Available at
https://contrapuntalism.blog/ [Accessed 27 Dec. 2020]

Malone, S. (2010) Sean Malone: Clairfontaine Music Pad. The Goulet Pen Company. [online] Available at https://blog.gouletpens.com/2010/07/sean-malone-clairefontaine-music-pad/ [Accessed 28 Dec. 2020]

Moist, K., Banash, D. (2013) Contemporary Collecting. [Lanham, Maryland] Scarecrow Press.

No. 2: Story of the Pencil (2016). [online]. Directed by William Allen. USA: Abverbia Films [Viewed 10 November 2016]. Available from Amazon Prime, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo On Demand, YouTube Movies.

Stein, S. (2013) Secret Erotica, Jane Austen, and Other News. The Paris Review. [online] Available at https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2013/08/13/secret-erotica-jane-austen-and-other-news/ [Accessed 28 Dec. 2020]

Ward, J. (2014). Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case. [London] Profile Books.

Weaver, C. (2017) The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon. [Berlin] Gestalten.

15

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This blog reached the age of 15 at the start of this month.

The post was slightly preempted by a congratulatory message from Twitter user App4Soft who may have bookmarked a previous anniversary post and waited for the anniversary to roll around. I was surprised. Thank you App4Soft!

It is hard to write any sort of celebratory message these days. While my inbox is flooded with invitations to resiliency seminars, my personal thinking is more in line with the message I get from Michelle Obama‘s story. And that was three months ago. Rather than “toughen up”, I believe we need larger doses of compassion and humility.

These days, I don’t order anything online unless the vendor can tell me how it will arrive. Universally they don’t know (whether a small business or large enterprise) – they deal with multiple shippers and hand off the package, or trust a third party (which may be software) with the shipping. So I don’t buy online. What I’m particularly trying to avoid is having a package delivered to a nearby postal outlet co-located with a medical walk-in clinic.

All the local specialty stationers are now closed for retail. A month ago, one of them kept a locked door, allowing two shoppers at a time – but with no browsing allowed. A table blocked display access, and they asked one to not touch anything that might remain in reach. Not much fun. Another required appointments. And another shop proactively closed.

I am wondering if they should all just close their retail presences, try and hunker down for the next year, then try and reopen? They all seem to be slowly embracing online selling in different ways, but I’m concerned that will just lead them to competing with the entire world. There is no easy answer. Of course, I have no idea if any of these businesses are in a ten year lease.

There are also neighbourhood stationers who sell mainly school supplies and greeting cards – I know of one that is approaching a century in business, and I wish them the best in these tough times.

Stay safe.

Mirado pencil discontinued after one century

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pencil talk has learned that the famed Mirado pencil has been discontinued.

From correspondence with Newell Brands Office Products:

[T]he manufacturing of our Mirado Classic Pencils are already discontinued and we do not have a direct replacement at this time.

The Mirado is a global classic. It and the predecessor Mikado have over a dozen mentions in the definitive pencil book, The Pencil by Henry Petroski.

The Mirado line has been the subject of several pencil talk posts:

Goodbye, Papermate Mirado Classic pencil (2009)

Mirado Black Warrior pencil (2008)

Last large American pencil factory to close in 2009 (2008)

Eagle Mirado pencil (2009)

Papermate Mirado Classic pencil (2010)

A blog reader, “B. Johnson”, sent some information about this several days ago, but I wanted to confirm the information with Newell / PaperMate before sharing.

The business logic is elusive. These pencils probably aren’t a revenue leader for Newell, but with such brand recognition, they must still sell. They have been regularly seen at big box stores for years.

[Update]

Please see these excellent posts at Orange Crate Art:

Farewell, Mirado

“Catch” of a Lifetime

I wish there was a pencil show

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The day before yesterday, I attended Scriptus, which is Toronto’s annual pen show.

My third time attending, the show was crowded and successful (elbow to elbow at times, it was too crowded for my personal tastes, but others seemed to be enjoying the energy).

Unfortunately, the show seemed to have almost nothing for a pencil/graphite aficionado. I don’t mean to complain – the show is run by volunteers, and there is no admission fee – the bills are paid by renting tables to vendors and the sale of raffle tickets. The organizers have my admiration.

In 2019, there should be a place for pencil fans and vendors to meet. It could be as participants in pen/stationery shows. Or someone could step up and create a dedicated pencil event. I do know that the American Pencil Collectors society has a biennial meeting in the midwest US, but I’m imagining something more mainstream and accessible.

All thoughts on this subject are welcome.

…and another!

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Best wishes to The Graphite Store. They are a new pencil specialty store who opened this past weekend in McKinney, Texas.

Their website (I’m not sure if it reflects their brick and mortar store) suggests they are less focused on just pencils than CW Pencils, and more of a general stationer.