There are a few novelty pencil genres that seem persistent. Though ballpoint pens are always encroaching, the pencil still seems to be a choice at many museum gift shops, at hotels, and a select few other places.
One of these persistent genres seems to be the “multiplication pencil” – a pencil for children with a printed multiplication table.
The three in the photos are of particular interest, as they bear the marks of the pencil companies that made them – Lyra, Musgrave, and Viarco.
I would say the Lyra, the sole triangular pencil, is the nicest writer. It appears to use jelutong wood.
Do you have recollections of seeing or using pencils like these?
5 Replies to “Multiplication table pencils”
Great! I especially like the one shown in the middle because the font “Tekton” was used – it is based on the handwriting of the famous architect Francis Ching who has written a few great books (the one about drawing is very useful for non-architects too).
Yes, I have recollections. I had some of these pencils (from other manufacturers, of course) when I was in 3rd/4rd grade if I remember correctly, i. e. 35+ years ago. I was always reluctant to sharpen them since this resulted in a loss of very important information ;-)
Another pencil-related story of that time (maybe a little later) comes to my mind. Of course cribs were very important to me too, and finding the best trick has always been a great challenge. One day I split a pencil in halves, exactly at that line that separated the two wooden parts. I removed the lead and put back a small part of it at the tip. After that I took a piece of thin paper with the length of the pencil halves (minus the length of the piece of lead) and the width of twice the pencil’s diameter. I took another pencil with a very sharp tip and wrote all the important things I couldn’t remember on the thin paper. Then I folded the latter longwise so that the writing was on the inside and glued both pencil halves onto it. Now the pencil was complete and usable again – it could even be sharpened –, and if there was something I need to know during a test I just had to open it ;-) Of course that special kind of handicraft hasn’t been successful at the first try so after the pencil was finally complete I could remember all the information because I had to write it several times …
What is especially neat about this is that you have to memorize the information as you use the pencil. Of course, this might create the perverse incentive for children (and adults) not to write so as to preserve the tables.
I have some pencils with multiply tables; as far as I know only Lyra has a diferent approach with the tables 1 to 10 and 11 to 19. I only have examples from Europe and China manufactures; those anyone told me if there are examples in America or elsewhere?
Jose, the middle pencil is from Musgrave, a small American manufacturer. I would guess that there are many such pencils created as novelties or advertising items, but not many bearing the manufacturer’s name. Staedtler just introduced a multiplication pencil this week! (Rebranded from Eberhard Faber.)
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