Want to buy a pencil company? Mega Brands announced that they are considering selling their stationery division, possibly back to the original owners of RoseArt Industries. Mega Brands may be in financial trouble.
In case the names aren’t familiar – Richard Best was an independent New Jersey pencil maker, purchased by J. R. Moon (Moon Industries). Moon was in turn swallowed by crayon maker RoseArt Supplies. And finally, Canadian based Mega Brands bought RoseArt in 2005.
A few years ago, Mega Brands got news for their lawsuits with Lego. Today, the news is about ongoing recalls of their unsafe Chinese supplied toys.
The pencil line includes the “USA Gold”, which I’ve never seen, many novelty pencils, and still, the “Try-Rex” triangular pencil.
(The photo above shows relatives of the Try-Rex, two vintage Richard Best Royal Scots, made in Springfield, N.J.)
12 Replies to “Want to buy a pencil company?”
I really liked Moon and was disappointed when they were gobbled up by RoseArt. I have some of their pencils and toppers, but nothing was they same after they became part of the conglomerate.
The USA Gold pencils are carried by Target stores around here (Tennessee). They are available in yellow or natural, and are decently made (per the packaging, in USA) . The wood, fit, and finish is better, in my opinion, than any of the Berol/Papermate products of current production. The ferrule marking is a single green band on pale gold-colored metal (for those, like me, that always try to identify pencils seen in movies and on TV). The writing is decent, as well, although scratchier than I prefer. The biggest problem for me is that they are smaller in diameter than normal – they just don’t fit my hands.
Brett, thanks for the comment. It is great to hear a description of the pencil from someone who uses it.
How funny; I’d never heard of USA Gold (I don’t drive so never end up at Target, Walmart, etc.) until this post, then I stopped at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at DePaul University downtown Chicago, and they had USA Gold with the basic school supplies (not much, by the way). They were $1.78 for 5, so on the inexpensive side. I’ll test drive them later when I have something to write about.
The USA Gold item was introduced by RoseArt originally in Incense-cedar to target specifically against Dixon’s Ticonderoga and Sanford’s Mirado brands with the mass market customer base. They consistently priced the product cheaper than these two other brands to gain share starting about 10 years ago when the product was first introduced.
In order to reduce cost the USA gold traditionally used lower grades of cedar and purchased chinese leads vs. making their own higher quality waxed leads as with the other two existing brands. I am not sure if this pencil still uses Genuine Incense-cedar these days or not. A few slat suppliers have marketed alternate woods calling them cedar. I consider the writing quality closer to the PaperMate American rather than the Ticonderoga or the Mirado.
As far as I know the diameter of this pencil still matches the Ticonderoga and the Mirado both of which were reduced slighlty about 15 years ago in an industry project to to yield one extra pencil from a slightly thinner and slightly wider slat in order to save on wood cost.
I just picked up 3 pencils from Mega at target. Two of them are marketed as recycled with one being newspaper and one being blue jean denim. The third is a bare cedar natural version of the american.
I believe they were $1.79 per package with the two recycled ones having 5 in a pack and the naturals having 7.
I tested them out against a palamino, general cedar pointe and generic carpenter pencil for the low end. The blue jean one was just as bad as the carpenter pencil. It was scratchy and light. The jean material was nice in hand though with a feel somewhere between a bare wood and varnished wood pencil. The cedar pointe and natural were similar. The cedar pointe had a better look and feel and construction but the natural wrote somewhat smoother. The real suprise was the newspaper pencil. The paint job was a little weak and the newspaper doesn’t seem to be wrapped perfectly on all the pencils but it writes almost as smooth as the palamino albeit with a slightly lighter line. The erasers on all of them were hard but not scratchy on the paper and erased well. I really wish the denim pencil had better graphite because i really like how it looks. For the price they are quite good. And to get something approaching a top of the line pencil for that cheap is nice. Target has them in the back to school selection so if you want them act soon.
I volunteer in my kids classes at school, and seems like each week I have to sharpen several hundered pencils. I just looked up Megabrands USA Gold as they sharpen far better than any other pencil; even better than the Ticonderogas which had been my favorite. I was surprised to see this is a Roseart product as I don’t like their crayons. The lead in these pencils is well centered so you won’t get that annoying problem with the wood in the way of the sharpened tip. Also, the wood seems to be harder than other brands, so they sharpen smooth, and the pencil sharpeners don’t chew them up. I also found several brands (mostly generics) that I won’t buy anymore. The lead in some of the generics is so poorly centered that I grind up the entire pencil in the sharpener and can never get the lead to stick out beyond the wood. I think a box of 12 USA Golds would last longer than a box of 60 generics! Next time I’m in Target, I am going to stock up on the USA Golds.
Hi Monique, Thank you for the comment. I’ve never seen a USA Gold, but am glad to hear that they are high quality.
Sorry to “revive” such an old thread, but recently I purchased some J. R. Moon pencils at a teacher supply store, which is really the only kind of venue where Moon products can be found. I bought a jumbo beginner’s pencil ornately labeled “Big Dipper,” and a “Try Rex.” Both are excellent pencils and still made in the USA. The Try Rex is every bit as good as the Royal Scot from the former Richard Best line, on which it is based, and has a 1950’s look and feel to it. (It is kind of exciting to know that the Richard Best tradition has survived so long!) It is too bad that these wonderful pencils are largely invisible to the general public and even to the pencil-collecting community. They are probably the best pencils still made in this country along with some of the Musgrave lines(Palomino is made in Japan). I hope that J.R. Moon doesn’t “bite the dust” with Mega Brands…I’m going to stock up on them!
The USA Gold is a natural finish cedar pencil with a light clear coat. The ferrule strip is blue. They seem to write slightly darker than a #2 Mirado Black Warrior, but I remember them lasting a while.
The eraser on the USA Gold is less dense however… I used up a lot of the eraser on the first 4 USA Gold’s that I tried. Still have 8 of them left in the package. Like other cedar pencils now a days, some of them are joined from cedar fragments with “finger” joints.
Interesting comments by Woodchuck. I am wondering where the USA Gold pencils are made (what location in the U.S.)? They definitely won’t write as well as the others as noted.
Also, I’ve been using some of my Eberhard Faber American old stock recently (love that pencil!), and they do definitely feel a bit larger diameter than my Sanford Mirados. I kind of like the larger, traditional feel of the Eberhard Faber’s.
I went to a local “Target” store here in the U.S. and for the first time the USA Gold pencil selection was missing. They had Ticonderoga and the low cost “Dixon” pencil line for sale (both are everywhere now), but no USA Golds of any finish.