World’s Best Pencil – Guatanteed.

The Dixon Ticonderoga pencil
The Dixon Ticonderoga is a staple. It’s one of the oldest and most distinguished names in the American pencil industry. It’s also now made in China.

Some fear a decline in quality. But what are they worried about? Check the back of the package:
The Dixon Ticonderoga pencil

43 Replies to “World’s Best Pencil – Guatanteed.”

  1. I was sorrowful when I found out a while back that Ticonderogas were made in Mexico. And now China! That really hurts. Well, I’m off to the store to buy some Mirado Black Warriors, still made in the USA.

  2. Don’t give up hope yet. There are actually some really quality pencils made in china. Like the Oxford Helix. It’s actually much better than some US pencils like the black warrior or the mirado classic. But than again, for every quality pencil from china, there are fifty pencils that I wouldn’t use for firewood.

  3. Just a few points of clarification on what I consider a somewhat erroneous and misleading post.

    First, the vast majoity of Ticonderoga’s marketed in the United States are produced in Dixon’s own factory in Mexico City after relocating from Versailles, Missouri. Dixon does own it’s own pencil factory in China. This facility produces some Ticonderogas, but these are primarily for European market and are certainly produced to the same quality specification. Thus they have not outsourced production of their flagship Ticonderoga brand in the standard yellow hex diameters.

    The Dixon Ticonderoga Company does outsource some pencils in China and elsewhere in Asia from other suppliers. The vast majority of these outsourced pencils are for other Dixon brands, not the Ticonderoga. Only a few outsourced items exist within the Ticonderoga brand in certain specialty items and dimensions.

  4. Well Woodchucks background information is good to know, but the original post isn’t going overboard about anything. To me it’s a fairly simple brief statement of fact and a ligh-hearted mildly irreverant ending.

  5. the bonus pencils, aren’t those the Ticonderoga Woodgrain? I’m suprised to see that they don’t have the woodgrain name on it, and I know that the name isn’t under the bottom of the picture because I have some.

  6. Woodchuck, I have to disagree with your statement that the Chinese pencils are mainly for the European market. I just bought a box of 12 Ticonderoga #2s from Staples. I inspected every box and they were all made in China. The 12 packs of #3s, and the 4 & 24 packs of #2s still said made in Mexico.

    The difference, as far as I can tell, is in the finish. The paint on the pencils is very shiny and thick instead of flat and “gritty” like my last batch of Ticonderogas. It looks more like the finish on Palominos only not nearly as nice, of course. Also, the Chinese pencils are either a little bigger or their sharper hexagonal corners make them feel bigger. The corners aren’t as soft and rounded as my last batch of Dixons.

    Also, I inspected the first box I was about to buy and the lead in a couple of the pencils was not even close to centered. I’m not sure if that’s normal or if it adversely affects the use of the pencil, but I grabbed another box which didn’t suffer the same problem.

    Even though there are obvious difference, the performance is still there–if not a tad better. They sharpen well and smell great. And, to my surprise, when the lead met the paper I actually liked it better. We all know that Ticonderogas are not premium pencils, but the Chinese version wrote very smooth and dark and the eraser felt softer and better.

    So, there you have it. The US market IS getting Chinese made Dixons. While I wish they were still made in the US for nostalgic reasons I won’t stop buying them now that they’ve moved across the Pacific.

    Oh, and the marking is now just “DIXON TICONDEROGA(R) 2 HB”. The “13882” is gone.

  7. I just bought a bunch of boxes of the Ticonderoga #3’s with the new pencil logo (just a 3 and a little hectagon with an H in it) at Staples and they were terrible — at least compared to the normal #3 product Dixon sells. I complained about them to both Staples and Dixon and Dixon sent me some new boxes of #3’s that had the new logo on the box — but inside the box the pencils themselves had their usual/normal 1388-3/H marking and the oblong green hectagon with “HARD” in it. These #3’s were the ones I am used to, i.e. great pencils. Their regular #3 product is one of the finest things known to man, in my humble opinion. But the bad #3’s I bought at Staples were more like #2’s, or worse — I had to sharpen them every minute or two when I was using them, the points kept splintering, etc. Just crappy pencils. Maybe it has to do with where they were made.

  8. Can you still buy American made Ticonderogas anywhere? The new ones made in Mexico are not the same quality as the ones made in America. The lead is not as smooth and they break more easily. I’m down to my last couple American made pencils.

  9. I also have found that this new batch of Mexican made Ticonderoga #2/HB (not the 13882’s, but the 13924’s) have graphite cores that break fairly easily. I’m sharpening them with a iPoint electrical sharpener, so there is not much risk of twisting/wiggling the pencil like with manual box sharpeners.

    The first two pencils out of a 24-pack had cores that would easily break off tips after several successive sharpenings. These are like 2mm graphite cores — they should be strong enough to handle most any writing.

    Fortunately, I only bought three 24-packs of the 13924 pencil. I hope the pencils in the 13882 pack work better. If the ‘model number’ makes any difference to the quality applied to the manufacture. I’m not sure it has any relevance, but we’ll see.

    I’ve also got several boxes of Chinese made Ticonderogas, Black Ticonderogas, and EnviroStiks. So far they seem to be more robust than those that came from Mexico. Time will tell.

    I was hesitant to try the Ticonderogas after seeing they were no longer made in the USA. Now I guess I know why. Fortunately we still have PaperMates and Musgraves. They seem to hold up pretty well.

  10. Simon, there is an eBay seller (“bowie80”, I believe) in the UK who is selling made-in-USA Ticonderogas. Even with the shipping it’s not a bad deal.

  11. I just purchased a pack of black Ticonderogas for my own blog. Today I took a couple of them to work with me only to discover one of them is slightly warped. You’d only notice it if you tried to roll it. Anyone else see something like this coming out of the Mexican factory?

    — Boris

  12. I have used Ticonderogas for 50 years. Now it’s on to General Pencil. I think they make some wonderful things in China and Mexico but I don’t like Ticonderogas and Dixon sending our jobs there. I wish them well and good-bye.

  13. pencilboy, that happend to me too. I got a 48 pack of the newly marked ones, and they were terrible. i sharpened one and it kept breaking. I used up the pencil in 3 minutes.

  14. Looks like I did the right thing in buying my yellow and black Ticonderogas a few months ago. They are mexican made, but the quality is good (except for the paint/finish job on some pencils). I also recently saw a couple boxes of “Made in America” Ticonderogas (NOS) and purchased them immediately.

    Of the new lot of Ticonderogas, the Ticonderoga Noir that is made in china looks and performs well. I saw one pack in Office Depot and purchased it. I tried it, liked it – and went back to purchase more, but the Office depot close to my home does not stock them anymore…frustating!

  15. So what brands do they make in Macon? I just ordered a few of the less common Dixon pencil varieties from a US art supply store. Their website photos clearly show the pencils embossed with “U.S.A.”, but the ones that arrived were all manufactured in Mexico or China.

  16. I am not familiar with what brands the make in Macon, I do know that they moved the operations here from another location about two years ago. I will try to learn more and post in the near future.

  17. I buy any kind and brand of pencils that I can get my hands on because I am obsessed with them as well as pens however I doubt that ANYTHING made in China could be of any good quality. I love California * Republic pencils. I was just given one by a friend of mine that is a librarian. I love the way it writes. It’s so consistent. I have fond that cheap pencils buy Ticonderoga and even U.S.A. made Paper Mate don’t write that well and have sections of the graphite that varies in hardness.

  18. Hi Brian, a small point – CalCedar moved their timber processing operations from California to China and Thailand some years ago – though the pencil was made in Japan, the wood was cut/processed in China.

  19. I think for the most part, wood used for pencils isn’t treated with chemicals and if it is cut and prossed in China, the manufacturers are probably making blanks to be machined. (I could be totally wrong.) So therefor, California * Republic pencils are probably superior not for the trivial fact that they are made of some special wood but mostly because this particular Japanese manufacterer is great a making a good pencil. No a days Japan is usually assosiated with quality and precision and China is assosiated with junk and crap that is manufactered poorly. I would think that for the most part that American made stuff like pencils “usually” are in a quality falling between Japanese and Chinese.

  20. Ok… I’m a teacher looking for pencils for this fall. WHERE do I find good pencils that are made in USA?

    Last school year, I bought the Ticonderoga’s because I could get them in bulk from Costco. I found student composition books that are made in the USA (Roaring Spring), but I haven’t had luck with pencils. I’d sure love to know if I can find pencils made here – I read none of the recycled pencils are made here either. That’s kind of funny if you think about it. Save the environment by using recycled products, but the recycled products use fuel to be shipped from overseas. Right.


  21. Hi Barbara,

    Sanford, as well as General Pencil and Musgrave Pencil (smaller independent companies) are still in business.

    Good luck.

  22. @Barbara, it is often even worse as recycled products cost so much energy to recycle, sort, rework, transport several times and use in making the product that it is hardly any more eco-friendly.
    We had an odd study in which they calculated that carboard packs with milk cost about three times the energy to produce the pack than it cost to produce the milk. That is an odd world!

    I like to use the perfect pencil from Faber-Castell or the 9000 pencil from them. They still are being made in Germany (me being from Holland, neighbouring country) And Faber-Castell governs it’s own forests for quite some time, so that’s nice as well.

    But I guess you would like a more reasonably priced product. As well being made in the US of A? Will be hard, I guess. Perhaps any else can help?
    How many do pencils do you need? Several grades or just HB?

  23. >>however I doubt that ANYTHING made in China could be of any good >>quality.

    I myself use only pencils made in the USA, and I won’t use the Chinese Ticonderogas.

    BUT, manufacturers in China will be happy to make your pencils to whatever quality you specify. If you want gold-plated pencils with Japanese-quality graphite, they will gladly make them for you. They would prefer it: the margins are higher. They don’t like their margins beat down by the likes of Wal-Mart or Target any more than you or I would.

    The Chinese plants don’t decide on the quality of the product–the company placing the order does. Ticonderoga could have pencils made in China of the same quailty as in the days of yore, IF IT WANTED TO.

  24. It’s hard to find a better pencil than one made by General Pencil Co. or Musgrave. I love General’s Test Scoring 580 pencils, as they contain graphite that is dark, smooth writing, and strong. About a year ago, I ordered 3 doz. from their Web site, and each pencil is consistent in its high quality.

  25. I purchased some Dixon Tri-Conderoga, and some Regular yellow and some black Ticonderoga pencils after reading about them and seeing their web site and history. As their web-site says, “a fine American name for a fine American pencil.” So I purchased them because I like to buy “Made is USA”. Boy was I disappointed. The 12 packs of the Tri-Conderoga and the yellow and black Ticonderogas in the green cardboard box say “Made in Mexico”. The clear plastic 24 pack says “Made in China” in very tiny writing. Now I don’t know about you, but I think it is deceptive to play up their illustrious history and the “American Pencil” angle when they make them overseas by non-Americans. I don’t care what the “History” is if they are no longer made here. A Mexican or Chinese pencil is NOT an American Pencil! I wouldn’t have minded if they were honest about it so I was honestly informed. I spoke to a lady in Dixon Marketing today. She said they were not being deceptive because they did not print “Made in USA” on the Pencil. She told me I would have to write a letter and convince here they are decieving customers. I advised her that with that attitude, I would help convince her by no longer being a customer. Thanks for listening.

  26. To my knowledge…GENERAL PENCIL CO. is the only one that’s still made in the USA. They make “the very BEST” pencils anywhere in the world–
    American (USA) materials with American workers…something we can all
    be proud of in today’s day and age– I BUY NOTHING FROM CHINA. I just
    ordered 3 doz. of their top-of-the-line yellow “hex” writing pencils…and
    they are of equal or better quality than even the old USA made pencils from Dixon Ticonderoga —AND YOU CAN BUY FROM THE GENERAL PENCIL
    ‘MADE IN USA’ !!!

  27. I picked up a Mexiconderoga from a coworker’s desk because I don’t often see “American” brands of pencils in Taiwan. Coworker showed me the box so I could verify it was Mexican-made, though she was a little curious why I was so interested in it. Another coworker mentioned they broke too easily so they weren’t very good to write with, though after I sharpened one up and tried it out, it didn’t strike me as particularly brittle (1388-2 marked “soft”). It was reasonably dark, and reasonably smooth.

    I think what got me was the general fit/finish of the pencils. While the performance was pretty decent, the pencil looks no better than many of the cheapest Chinese and Taiwanese products I see locally. In fact, had I not recognized the brand, I would not have bothered to even pick it up. I am pretty glad I didn’t buy a pack, and I don’t think I’d recommend it either. Perhaps as another poster said, the Chinderogas are better, but I haven’t seen them and don’t really plan to.

    Gotta say I’m a bit disappointed, but they’re far from the only company that has voluntarily or involuntarily milked a brand’s familiarity and heritage. Perhaps it only bothers me since I’m an American. Oh well!

  28. Although I was saddend to hear that Dixon moved its plants to China and Mexico, I still love their brand and purchase them regularly. Dixon does make one Ticonderoga in the U.S.A , it is called the “Renew”, its made of old tires. Its a neat idea but you need a good sharpener ” not electric” to get a good point. Is anyone else glad that something from their brand is made in the U.S.A?

  29. Hey guys, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Dixon makes the world’s worst pencil. Writes poorly, made from cheap wood, exists in an even more cheap plastic packaging. Messy to sharpen, poor for the environment, there is NOTHING good about this pencil, it is if not ORDINARY, a POORER than ordinary choice. I don’t know about you, but if I were to buy a pencil, it shouldn’t be something I’m going to throw away right after I use it. It should WRITE WELL, sharpen WELL, and not CRAP out on me if I drop it a few times. BEST PENCIL? This thing comes in the ugliest yellow that has ever graced this earth, there is not a SINGLE strong point to this piece of crap, it would’ve served a better purpose as a tree, at least I can PEE on a tree. HEY Dixon, I know all your pencil sniffing staff love reading this blog, hear me out. How about you try making a pencil that doesn’t suck, a pencil that I see more often in the hands of children instead of in the trash? Also please fire the person who designs your pencils (if you even have one), talk about living in the 20’s. Funny thing is, I don’t know a lot of 90 year olds who still use pencils, so how about some designs huh? Don’t let me get started on the tree cutting and the pencil sniffing I hear about on this blog, if you wanna sniff pencils instead of actually use them for what they’re intended, then buy a smencil or something, idk.

  30. I thought I understood this post…satire about this ugly pencil, calling it the World’s Best. But, wow, until Joseph G comes around…I realize that the posts and most comments aren’t satire, but people here actually like the “world’s Best.” Thanks Joseph for telling it how it is, this pencil is crap and it sure is understandable why they had to move to Mexico. They may be good people, but they sure live in another century…I mean a yellow pencil. And don’t get me started on the eraser. Sometimes I wonder who is writing the comments here as they take themselves so seriously, Lighten up folks and thanks Joseph for calling crap, “crap.”

  31. I agree with Joseph G. The pencils are horrible. They are constantly breaking. I teach third grade and this is a major class disruption because we are always sharpening pencils!!!

  32. You know, after years of spending a lot on high quality pencils from Japan and Germany, I decided to give this old childhood favorite another try, even if it is no longer made in the USA. I bought a dozen of the Mexican Ticonderoga no. 2’s. I sharpened them with a Carl sharpener, and the points were as clean and sharp as on a Tombow Mono. And guess what? They write. Not super smooth, but not horrible, either. They do the job decently. I did not experience any lead breakage. (Many problems with pencils are not the fault of the pencils themselves but of the sharpeners—good sharpeners are few and far between! Carls are the best ever.) Except for the shoddy paint job on one or two of the barrels, this pack of pencils did not strike me as terribly inferior. From now on, I’m always going to keep a box of 12 of them with me for daily use. It is actually fun to be able to use something that you can still buy at the corner drugstore and not have to order from a specialty website.

  33. What I do realize with some sadness is that the packaging is no longer the same. Ticonderoga boxes have lost all trace of the American flag and the figure of Ethan Allan. The name Ticonderoga must mean nothing at all to its new European owners nor to its Mexican makers. I admire European things, and I happen to know that Mexico is a far more sophisticated and cultured place than we in the USA give it credit for, but still, I want my Green Mountain Boy on my box of Ticonderoga pencils!

  34. sorry,ticonderoga<i didn't like you ;umm ur design,shape etc.
    I,do concern only with the design & shape.I would like to give you 3 out of 10………………..

  35. If you are just considering shape, well, the Ticonderoga has the same shape as all standard wood-cased pencils.

  36. I don’t get how sometimes when you buy the pencils in bulk, the laquer isn’t as bright yellow or shiny, and the green stamp isn’t as cleanly stamped, and it kind of ticks me off. Especially with the fact that the lead doesn’t center correctly, which totally throws off the sharpening process completely. How hard is it to center the lead correctly during manufacturing???

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