Rhodia pencils


The Rhodia pencil.

Rhodia (or to be be precise, Exaclair, the US distributor of the conglomerate that owns the Rhodia brand) contacted me and asked if they could send two of their Rhodia brand pencils.

Let me confess – these weren’t my first Rhodia pencils. I learned of the Rhodia pencil line from the old “Moleskine Art” blog, a predecessor of the excellent Scription. This was probably 2006 or so. I was so eager to see the products that I ordered some from overseas, which was a major event for me back then. (How times change!) The pencils were mentioned on the blog’s 1st anniversary post.

What I noticed online was the widely varying reaction to the pencil – ranging from excellent to poor. The pencil has no markings other than the Rhodia firs logo, so it is hard to know if commentators are talking about the same pencil. I was happy to engage with Exaclair just so that I could ask – has the Rhodia pencil changed? I also wanted to ask – where does it come from?

The pencil is very curious in advertising that it uses Linden wood, also known as lime wood or basswood. It is very unusual for pencils not made of cedar to mention their species of wood. Linden wood/Basswood is considered is a budget alternative to cedar, so it is a surprising association for a premier brand like Rhodia.

The black died wood seems to have received a treatment which made sharpening relatively easy.

So are the 2006 and 2011 Rhodia pencils the same? I was told “yes”, but the 2011 pencil is clearly and distinctly better in my testing. Probably two degrees darker and much smoother.

So where is it made? I didn’t get a clear answer to that question.

The product seems to have been quietly improved over the years, and is certainly worth a try, especially if you like Rhodia’s paper products.

12 Replies to “Rhodia pencils”

  1. Stephen, have you had any experience with the point breaking or with any crumbling? Even using the Carl, I noticed that the point would sometimes break or at least crumble a bit (I don’t press particularly hard). I agree that they are rather dark and smooth. Maybe I should re-visit them…

  2. Being a fan of Rhodia paper, I was excited when these pencils first became available, but they did not impress me in actual use. I didn’t find them to be very smooth. And I have to admit to not loving the black wood. But if the newer versions are improved, I will give the Rhodia pencil another try.

  3. If this pencil is not in the classic Rhodia color and does not bear the Rhodia sign, then it is a decent pencil. It occasionally writes with scratch, and the linen wood does not sharpen smoothly. I will think twice before I purchase another one.

  4. I have my Rhodia pencil right here on my desktop while typing this. Mine is triangular, not hex or round. I can’t clearly see whether the one in the picture is round or triangular.
    I agree with Adair, black wood not being among my favourites, as it is not the eraser.
    But what annoys me most (well, ok, “annoy” is not the exact word here perhaps) is a want-to-be good pencil not marking its gradient on the barrel. It is intended to be a B, HB or what? Because then blackness can be compared with other pencils with same gradient.
    HB has certain amount of blackness. If I want more blackness I take a 2B or 3B.
    IMHO a very black B is not good, because B has its own amount of blackness, otherwise should be marked as 2B, 3B, etc.
    The Rhodia I have writes as black&soft as a Lumograph HB, more or less.

  5. I’ve come across these a few times where I live, but I never found them convincing enough to actually buy. It’s a little disappointing, since I find their notebooks great (especially the new “R” tablets). Perhaps someday I’ll pick one up, just to say I’ve given it an almost-fair chance.

  6. I think they are made in China. I got a box of them once by mistake when I ordered another Rhodia article. I sent it back as I didn’t order it, but anyway the box had a sticker “Made in China” at the bottom. I do have one of these pencils I bought as part of the “Rhodia Essentials Notepad Box” and find it extremely similar to triangular, black-wood pencils made by Marco.

  7. hahah, thanks for mentioning me once again. I love Rhodia’s pencil, at least I love the decency to make it different, especially the black dye contrasting the signature orange color. Absolutely lovely form factor. Oh, black eraser too. BTW, love the Field Notes one with GREEN eraser, so handsome together with the typography they used. Anyway, love Rhodia pencil.

  8. I bought a single Rhodia pencil last December to test and I wasn’t disappointed. I used it for the Spring ’11 semester in my math courses as my main pencil and loved it. It’s definitely not the “best” pencil I’ve used, but it was smooth, dark and a workhorse. I could just toss it in my bag and not worry about the point (too much!). It fell off the desk, etc with no problems. Sharpening was easy–just used whatever handheld was in my bookbag. The eraser was good as well, but was used quickly since it was a school pencil. I’d say overall it’s a pencil that’s worth buying if you’re already placing an order online.

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