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Strikethru

Correction. Also an apology for jumping the gun. I am pleased to report that Strikethru is alive and well! Please go take a look.

The great blog Strikethru also seems to be gone. Typewriter focused, it was of course about more. For me, it often led to smiles. It inspired me to buy and read The Iron Whim (and I learned that a wonderful former neighbor knows the author. That neighbor has also lived in Kitchener and Toronto and the Bay Area!). It also led to me to Berkeley Typewriter, Paper-Ya, and the Regional Assembly of Text.

Author Cheryl remains active online. We wish her the best!

A side note: Not too many stationery blogs are older than pencil talk. Ninth Wave Designs is older, as is Pencil Revolution. So are Moleskinerie (now a vendor site) and Scription. (Some of these have changed formats/focus/domains over the years – understandably!)

Leadholder.com

The website leadholder.com appears offline. My thanks to blog reader Paul for alerting me.

Leadholder was an online catalogue of thick lead leadholders – but also thin lead mechanical pencils and woodcase pencils devoted to technical drawing. It had a collection of historical catalogs that was a great reference for anyone interested in pencil history. The website was also a technical marvel, having many navigational features that were not commonly available back in 2001.

See also Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, ZossPens, Pencil Pages.

Pencils in Canada

July 1st was Canada Day, and a special one – the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. I’ve long wanted to write an article about pencils in Canada. Unfortunately, information is scarce, and after many years editing and writing this blog, I remain knowing very little. Still, perhaps there is a detail that might be of interest to readers, and perhaps you may have something to share!

19th Century

Formal graphite mining in Canada probably started at the Miller or Keystone mine in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge (also known as Grenville), Quebec. The exact date may not be certain. The very informative Quebec Mines Bulletin cites 1845. Mining site Mindat.org suggests pre-1845, probably 1837 or 1838 and cites the Bulletin on Graphite, Mineral Resources of Canada, Ells, R. W. (1904).

This mine is still in existance in 2017!

I think this mine had a famous customer. Henry Petroski’s The Pencil mentions that Thoreau used Canadian graphite. His reference is to The Days of Henry Thoreau: A Biography, Walter Harding.

In a passage on the Thoreau pencil business in the 1830s, Harding mentions that after the Bristol and Tudor mines were exhausted:

And when that mine eventually closed, they turned to importing graphite from Canada.

John Thoreau must have used the Miller mine in Grenville as a graphite source.

(Did you know that Henry Thoreau visited Montreal and Quebec City as a tourist in 1850? There is a description (French language) of the trip in the essay Le voyage d’Henry David Thoreau au Canada en 1850 by George Gauthier-Larouche.)

20th Century

Petroski mentions that three US manufacturers all opened Canadian factories in 1932. Why the same year? I can only speculate that whoever was first spurred quick competition.

Dixon opened in the Toronto suburb of Newmarket. There is a Dixon Plaza named after the company, and they still have a small office in the locale.

Do you like the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood pencil’s local nature? Dixon once made a similar Canadian pencil, the Chancellor, with Canadian wood, graphite, and manufacture. Heather at A Penchant for Paper owns one! I’d love to see one, but they seem to be exceedingly rare today.

Eberhard Faber located in Drummondville, Quebec.

Venus Pencil was in west end Toronto. I’m not honestly sure if it dates to 1932. There is a discount eyeglass company on the site now. Venus is know to Canadians for the Laurentien pencil crayon.

A blog reader told me one of the eonomic diversification projects that former Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood championed was a pencil factory. Is this true? I would love to see a Newfoundland pencil!

And two resource notes: Petroski mentions that Canadian graphite again came to the rescue during WWII when other sources were unavailable. Staedtler have mentioned (with little detail) using Canadian cedar.

21st Century

CNP Industries – this was apparently a short-lived Quebec pencil company. Have you heard of it?

Northern Pencils A briefly alive slat supplier?

Can any readers share more about pencils in Canada?

Lexikaliker is ten!

This week marks an amazing internet anniversary – the information rich pencil (and “disordered everyday occurrences”) blog Lexikaliker is ten years old! Congratulations!

Faber-Castell Polygrade pencils

As noted in this post at Lexikaliker, pencil industry leader Faber-Castell has issued a special set of pencils to honour the 200th birthday of Lothar von Faber. (An English language version of the product website is here).

To anyone interested in the history of pencils, this is super exciting!

This blog, nine years ago, was thinking ahead about tribute pencils for Faber-Castell’s 250th anniversary in 2011. Some good suggestions are in the comments.

This is what Faber-Castell produced. Beautiful. Every business must look forward, but I’d also hoped for a look back at their magnificent history.

Later than we hoped for, is this great set. The photos suggest it is very pleasing. Unfortunately, it is only available in Germany. I hope Faber-Castell will recognize the irony – Lothar von Faber created great success though approaching international markets. I hope this pencil set will become available internationally.

I also hope for the chance to contrast this set with the the original (a privilege to own).

Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, ZossPens, Pencil Pages

A few notes about some major online stationery presences:

Dave’s Mechanical Pencils appears offline. I’m not sure if this is a Google policy at work or David’s action, but it is sad to see it gone. It was the major English language mechanical pencil website for many years. There’s a small bit of Dave here, half of a joint blog post we did in 2009.

The Zoss Pens Listserv has announced the end. If you recall using Netscape or Mosaic – this list dates back to then. The list prided itself on being the most learned and thoughtful place to share fountain pen knowledge.

The Pencil Pages website is 21 years old! Congratulations Doug! The website used to have a “Buy/Sell” forum – it was the first online discussion of woodcase pencils that I became aware of.

I hope we can appreciate these efforts – each one involved a significant effort, and was shared freely with the world. Let’s carry on doing that, keeping conversations open and accessible.