New pencils are sold both sharpened and unsharpened. The major European manufacturers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Lyra, Stabilo, etc.) all typically sell their pencils pre-sharpened. In contrast, the Japanese (Kita-Boshi, Pentel, Mitsubishi, Tombow) and American (Sanford, Dixon) manufacturers generally sell pencils unsharpened. There are of course exceptions.
Pre-sharpening can provide a convenience factor to consumers. But it also has drawbacks – the pencils are more likely to get broken in transport from store to home/office. As well, the angle of sharpening might be different than that provided by your preferred sharpener, and require a couple of unideal sharpenings before it’s right.
It also deprives one of the pleasant sharpening ritual, the defined initiation of a new pencil.
On the plus side, a pre-sharpened pencil is instantly useable, and sharpeners aren’t always at hand or convenient to use. The factory sharpening could be viewed as a small courtesy towards the customer.
So what do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.
7 Replies to “The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened”
I certainly prefer them unsharpened. I never open a new box of pencils “on the run” anyway, so I like the sense of the pencils being “untouched by human hands” when I crack the box open. ;-)
I’m also a collector of pencils – not only a user, so I like my unused ones to look just that: unused.
Unsharpened, that way my sharpener gets to use part of the blades that don’t get used relativel often. Yes, I know that’s weird.
How are the pencils that come pre-sharpened, sharpened?
Nuetral. For collecting, I prefer unsharpened. But when I try to buy a completely new one to me on off-line stores, I prefer sharpened, for test writing.
Unsharpened, for all the practical reasons noted, but also because sharpening seems to me to belong to the user’s experience, like uncorking wine or filling a fountain pen.
I like the sharpend once.
Nothing to do with the advantages or disadvantages, they just look better.
I also like that the manufactures of these pencils are trying to be courteous.
I prefer sharpened because I find it hard to sharpen them straight if it hasn’t been ‘pre-done’ for me.