Let’s navigate away from Lewisburg and head over to Mumbai.
The Hindustan Pencil Company was founded in 1958, and is now India’s largest pencil manufacturer. They state that they manufacture 5.6 million pencils per day! That would be over two billion per year. This would put them in the elite league of Faber-Castell and Staedtler.
Despite these enormous numbers, their pencils are unavailable in many regions of the world, including here in Canada. My thanks to hemmant for kindly sending me these pencils, and some other Indian pencils that we’ll soon see.
The pencils are red with black stripes, a black cap, and white cap ring. They ship unsharpened, and are marked:
HPL * Nataraj * 621 * HB * Bonded Lead
They sharpen easily enough in either desktop or handheld sharpeners.
What I first notice is the wood’s appearance. It appears to have the striations typical of jelutong or pulai, yet is also quite reddish. I’m curious if anyone knows what wood species is being used?
The lead seems quite strong – when I sharpen a pencil in the Carl Decade DE-100 using the acute setting – the point often breaks after ‘first contact’ with paper – but that didn’t happen with the Nataraj. The pencil seems average judged by smoothness or line richness factors.
The pencil box mentions the official price – 3 Rupees per pencil. That is $US0.06. Quite impressive.
The box also came with a sharpener and eraser. The sharpener boasts “with Japanese Technology”, and seems fine for a plastic sharpener. The eraser is a “Plasto 711”, and while creating a lot of crumbs, did a good job with this pencil on Rhodia paper.
Overall, the Hindustan Pencil Company seems to be doing a good job with this product.
Link: Official Product page.
28 Replies to “Nataraj 621 Writing Pencils”
It’s nice reviews like this that keeps me coming back to this wonderful site. I’m an addict to Graf van Faber-Castell, but these pencils are made for 3 rupees, 0,06 cents? And they still work pretty decent. Compare that to one of the “cheapest” Graf von Faber-Castell pencil, costing well over 6 dollars and I dare to question if the GvFC is a 100 times better?!
I know, Faber-Castell does do a lot environmentally friendly things with paint and reforesting but even then the price difference is huge. How do they make these pencils for this minimal amount of money?
Its fact, I do agree the quantity stated in this article is true..
Hindustan Pencils is the largest manufacturer of Wooden Pencils in India.
I personally know this and I can personally certify this with their input of Pencil wood..
And the funniest thing will you believe!!!
The diferrence of the largest and the second largest manufacturer of wooden Pencils is how much???
Only 3.7 million pencils…
You can say its somewhere about 33% of largest!!
Both are growing..
There are a few reasons why Natraj pencils are so cheap. They are manufactured in India, 1 USD ~ 44-45 INR (Indian Rupees) or something like that (it keeps changing). That makes just about anything made there appear quite reasonable. Also, salaries and wages are in INR.
A middle class person in India would spend 3 Rupees the way a middle class American would spend a quarter (this is not based on currency conversion). So in terms of affordability, while it seems really cheap to an American (or Canadian/Westerner etc), it really is about the same as most ‘common’ pencils in America (Palominos/Unis don’t count as ‘common’). This being from a pure affordability perspective.
This is not a scientific analysis, but I believe it conveys the essence of what I want to convey.
I have spent 35 years in Pencil Manufacturing business in India and have used so many species of wood for making Pencil.
The business of manufacturing begun in India after its independence from British rule..
In those days it was ‘DEODAR'(Cedrus Deodara) wood used for making pencils.
This wood; Deodar, very similar to California Cedar (Incense Cedar) was widely available in Forests of Northern India, mainly in Jammu and Kashmir state. After partition of India and Pakistan, major part of Kashmir state was occupied by Pakistan and the sources of Deodar wood also gone.
In addition to this, this Deodar wood having better price appreciation for making Furniture, Wooden Houses and Railway Slippers than using for making Pencil became very expensive in India. And this way Deodar Pencils disappeared from Indian market after the 2 decades of independence.
This forced Indian Pencil manufacturers to find some alternate wood!!
Deodar wood was from North of India; mainly Jammu & Kashmir state and Himalayan Terrain, its replacement came from Kerala State in Southern of India. The name of wood was Venkotta (Lophopetalum Wightianum Arn.). This wood having straight Grain direction, Uniform White Colour and Superior Machining Property became very popular for making Pencils. This wood was part of Indian Forest reserve and as there was NO plantation of this wood, disappeared from South India in few years. These remain in Indian Pencil Industry for nearly 10 years. Meanwhile; Simul/Semul or Elav (Salmalia Malbarica DC/Bombax Ceiba L. /Bombax Malbaricum DC) and Kuthan (Hymenodictyon Excelsum Wall) wood was tried and used for Pencil making. But those trees have long growing time and its supplies are less for Pencil Industry. In addition to this; the fastest growing Plywood Industry in both part of India started using those species for making cheaper quality Plywood. Due to this the demand increased and supply remains limited. Again those species having very soft structure of wood catch decay and fungus easily which generate more rejection for pencil making. In 1980 one more promising wood was discovered in Kerala state for pencil making named as: VATTA (Macaranga Peltata [Roxb] M. A.) The NATRAJ Pencil which you see or use is VATTA wood. Vatta is a private plantation wood and in the certain district of Kerala State in India can be seen a lot. Again this is a fast growing Tree and within 8 to 10 years of time it can be cut and converted in to Pencil Slat. Today in India, 3 major manufacturers of Pencils use this wood for Pencil Making.
But everything that takes birth; ends one day…
Today the requirement of Pencil Slats is growing more and more but NO proper plantation of VATTA trees. According to best of my knowledge the District of Kerala state which produce nearly 1 million gross pencils worth slats every month are always under short supply. Again during high monsoon time its production goes down.
Meantime the ray of hope came up again in North India; mainly in state of Jammu & Kashmir. Thanks to VIMCO Match factory Company who took decision to make plantation of POPLAR wood in North India. Today lots of Poplar wood is available and Pencil manufacturers are using Poplar for pencil making.
Poplar is a beautiful wood, having straight grains, fast growing time and natural white colour of wood. It can be sawn, cut or chopped easily for Pencil Slat making. By its look; it looks very similar to BASS wood.
According to me, today in India, 60% pencils are made of VATTA wood and 40% Pencils are made of Poplar wood. All 3 major Pencil manufacturers have invested huge amount in Jammu & Kashmir state for making Pencils and Pencil Slats.
But; the Jammu & Kashmir Government have started converting old Saw Mill License in to Plywood Factory or Pulling unit license. Poplar is very good for making Plywood and just in time span of 5 years all Pencil Makers have started facing shortage of Poplar wood.
I have travelled everywhere in India to keep on developing or discovering new species of Pencil wood. One side there is huge development of Industrial land, on other hand forest land and agriculture land are going non-productive creating shortage of ‘GOOD’ wood.
Just to conclude this article I can say..
Vatta and Poplar wood is mainly used for making Pencils in India. In addition to this Bass wood and Linden Wood is being import to meet short fall. And the price of Raw Vatta slat comes to nearly US $ 25 for 1000 (30 gross) slats and Raw Poplar Slats comes to US $ 35 for 1000 (30 gross) slats.
Pencil Manufacturer and Wood Scientist.
Very good and informative post, Harshad! I learned a great deal. Thanks for taking the time to do that.
Harshad, thanks for all that information and history. Very interesting.
Thank you, Harshad, for your effort with that very interesting comment!
Dear Devid, Kiwi & Gunther,
My Friend, Pencil is passion of my life!!!
Right from my school day to till today, I have written a lot about Pencil..
I suggest you that to make this site more popular, you should invite some Big Persons to share their experience and some pencil related incident of their life…
Ask Bill Gate, ask President Obama, ask Brad Pit….
Such story published here will motivate other readers to develop skill of writing..
Mainly to the Younger Generation..
Give a thought over this suggestion…
would you like to have some of my product samples?
Thank you Harshad for another great extremely informative comment. I already have bookmarked another substantive comment of yours from January on the costs of making pencils.
I’m debating following your suggestion, which I think is good, though I might pick some other celebrities.
I tried emailing you in January, but I’ll try again – please look for a message from email@example.com!
I think all you should read this story..
This is a TRUE story taken fron the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi to whom we all Indians address as ‘Bapu’ means “Father of Nation”..
Long back during time of Freedom Fight, Bapu used to live in a place called ‘Sabarmati Ashram’ in city of Ahmedababd in Gujarat.
Bapu once lost or misplaced his small piece of a Pencil..
And later on he needed Pencil to make some quick note and started searching for that particular piece of Pencil..
With a very worried look he was searching here and there and as it was not seen, he was very frustrated and tensed..
Around him there were so many important persons like Mr. Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) and Mr. Patel (First Home Minister of India) and many more…
They asked Bapu, “Bapu, why you are so worried and tensed?”
But Bapu kept searching on..
When finally he was helpless, he told others about the piece of Pencil and requested them to help in search..
Someone came with a New Pencil, someone suggested Bapu to forget about that Pencil and someone told Bapu that he will send hundreds of pencils…
But it was Bapu..
He refused all suggestion and kept the search on..
Finally; with the help of a small boy, Bapu found that piece of Pencil and smile came on his face..
Bapu told to everyone…
“India is a poor countrey, we can not afford to loose such small things, particularly such thing like Pencil which was NOT manufactured in India. I have drafted the agenda of meeting with Mr. Winston Churchil with this Pencil to bring ‘FREEDOM’ to my mother land INDIA!! This Pencil was given to me by someone close to me and if I loose this Pencil, I may loose the warmth and closeness of that close friend….”
This is a fact that something so small and less important to us play very important role in our life…
Can anybody give any information regarding the coating materials used on the wooden part of the pencil? Any response would be appreciable.
I recently contacted the manufacturer about purchasing pencils in the US. http://www.hindustanpencils.com
They wrote back and have provided me with an email address for contacting about US purchases. So hopefully I should be able to make a small sample purchase. I am particularly interested in trying their “Vegetable Oil” impregnated leads.
I need some 50000 (Fifty thousand) Nataraj chellanger pencils urgently. would you please send me the lowest price for the same.The materials are needed for Education purpose.
The official pencil talk cupboards reveal that none are in stock. Perhaps you wish to contact the manufacturer.
thnks for ur information..
i’m from kerala, i’m not at all awared of the pencils dat i’m usein’ today are madeup of vatta grows in my courtyard. that was a great info.for me. vatta trees are very cheap here and they are not planted by anyone they are grown by their own and its a fast growing tree, pepole tells thats its bcoz it takes away all the fertilizers in the land. and thatswhy they don’t plant them. most of it are used as fire-wood for cooking purpose. they had beautiful lightgreen coloured seeds in bunches and they are little bit sicky . the perchin’ birds sat on the branches and eat away the seeds, mainly crows excreets it around the courtyard and they started growin’ from there. thnks to the birds, they are the real planters. and one more thin’ people of kerala in early days used its leaves as a plate for eating food. its leaves are broad and round in shape.
I am using your pencil & sharpners. But your sharpner sharpens one pencil & goes blunt.
For one packet of pencils i have to buy 3-4 sharpners.
Why these problems occurs.
Hello Ashish – for the record, this website is not associated with this or any other pencil manufacturer.
Does anyone have a USA source for Nataraj pencils? I sent an email to the manf but they have not responded.
Can you please email me. I am much interested in your products. The information you gave is much interesting.
I’m I’m Canada and need to get my hands on Nataraj pencils.
hi these is glenn from philippines. were i can buy nataraj product here in manila?
today i use Natraj pencil. In my school time it was the best quality of pencil.But Now It is one of the INFERIOR quality pencil.
I am a 27 years old person and want to set my own company for wooden pencil manufacturing, I want to know the detail about the machinery where to buy and many more so if you can help me will be very thankful to you.
we want to inport your producr in myanmar market so please give me some idea for your export term kindly we wait for your reply . Please give me your contact person of export depertment. Thanks you.
What is ‘621’ on Nataraj pencils?
10-12 years back when I was active at this site, I used to write my views and other information about Pencil Industry in India.
Today I can say that our Company have reached the Pencil Production of Hindustan Pencil and soon we shall be crossing them. In addition to Wooden Pencils we have more than 1000 Products in our portfolio and soon we aim to reach Largest manufacturer of Asia. (www.domsindia.com)
in 2013, I shall be completing 50 Years my association with Pencil Industry…
And still I feel young and energetic..
Mr. Harshad Raveshia.
Sir I agree with u 100% but want to say one thing
that wood industry has emerged a lot and day by day emerging and plantation is also growing much more faster and I am in the same business from last 15year, and I am also from Srinagar. and I have lot of agression from last 15 years for pencil business.
As I know most of poplar wood is using fo pencil making and there r some fastest growing species of poplar, towards which farmers are giving much more importance and planting the same and in future there will not be any type of shortage in exception of peeling demand from Punjab.