For me, red and blue pencils are special. They are practical and hardworking, yet fanciful and a specialty product. I love having one on my desk, and I’ve loved sampling the many varieties that exist. But they’re not an eveyday pencil for many.
Even less common (and “common” is relative – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red and blue pencil for sale at a non-specialty store) are other formulations of mixed-core writing/office pencils. Fifteen years ago, this blog took a look at the Tombow LV-KEV, still an outstanding pencil. I thought that was about it for this type of pencil, but a great post at Lexikaliker reminds us that there have been a few. Still, they are few in number – vintage, a few made for the Turkish and Mexican markets – and the more recent Caran d’Ache Graphicolor and the CW Pencil Enterprise “The Editor”. A very interesting comment at Lexikaliker suggests the red in The Editor is water soluble – I will have to test that if I locate one.
Today, we’ll take a look at the Dixon Duo, a pencil from the Fila conglomerate produced by Dixon Mexico for the Mexican market. Called a “lápiz entrenador” (training pencil), it is aimed at children, though in my mind it seems like a very adult writing implement.
A rounded triangular shape, it sports a 3.3mm core. Sharpening with a handheld Möbius+Ruppert was simple.
So here is what I wasn’t expecting – both ends write well. The red is vibrant and the graphite is pleasingly smooth.
Official product listing: Dixon Mexico
This isn’t breaking news, but I haven’t heard it mentioned elsewhere in the pencilosphere. Have you noticed Dixon Ticonderoga’s new logo? Dixon are now part of Pacon, a US educational supply company. The graphic to the left of the text is from Pacon.
A report (it reads more like a press release than a news report) from Wisconsin’s Fox 11 is here.
Though the Pacon executive talks about acquiring Dixon, technically Dixon acquired Pacon. But the logo and statement by the executive suggest that Pacon will be the leader.
So what changes, and how does this relate to Fila? Fila acquired Dixon in 2005 and Pacon in 2018, so it looks like a consolidation of Fila’s US assets.
A vintage blotter or advertising card for Dixon Ticonderoga. The Scottish bagpiper (bagpenciler?) character is reminiscent of Canadian Tire money and Sandy McTire.
The Plymouth Building was demolished in 1965 according to Winnipeg Buildings. The six digit phone number might be another guide to dating the ad.
Made by the FILA Group, these pencils from subsidiary brands appear to be roughly the same. They are made at FILA’s main plant in China, and sold under established national brand names. Very established brand names – LYRA (Germany) dates from 1806, and Dixon (USA) from 1795. FILA itself is a relative newcomer, established in 1920.
The Dixon Ticonderoga seems to be the model for the others. It looks just like predecessor versions, minus the “U.S.A.”
The FILA Temagraph is an established brand, but it has been redesigned to resemble the Ticonderoga. The version with an eraser is pretty much a Ticonderoga clone. The one without eraser has an interesting metal cap, with the grade in large letters. It carries on the Ticonderoga ferrule look in an alternate form.
The newest of the bunch is the LYRA Temagraph. The cap has a splash of colour, and is part of a scheme used by other LYRA pencils such as the Robinson. Though the box says the pencil is made in China, the pencil itself is stamped “Germany”.
Though they look roughly alike, the pencils seem to have different cores.
Are there others in this series? Do you like what FILA has achieved with this pencil line?
Update: November 18, 2010 There is indeed at least one more! Please see AMOS DIXON Ticonderoga at Bleistift.
Does anyone remember the Dixon Oriole?
The official product page calls them a “first-rate commercial grade woodcase pencil offered at an economical price”.
Hmmm, “commercial grade”.
Well I ordered them online after finding a store that had some older US made stock. Or so I thought. I should have known what was coming – the photo and description were out of date, and I was sent newer Chinese made Orioles.
Unfortunately, the pencils seem quite third rate to me – the lead is very scratchy and rough, and the paint finish on some has ridges of bubbles which go beyond being a cosmetic problem – they make the pencil uncomfortable to grip. I do like the font.
Am I being harsh? Perhaps they aren’t meant for writing. They are certainly fine for rough marking purposes.
So about the sharpener. From Möbius + Ruppert we have a three hole sharpener in unfinished aluminum. Each opening has a different length blade. What is this sharpener for?
Take a look at this post at the Bundoki Stationery blog. I’m obviously not the only person amused or confused.
With the Oriole, I got a reasonable result in one opening, a lead corkscrew effect in another, and the third would not sharpen the pencil at all. (See top photo.)
Does anyone know the story behind this sharpener?
Does Dixon still make pencils in the United States?
It is very hard to say, but here are some “Made in U.S.A.” “tri-write” pencils found just last week at a Grand and Toy store here in Canada! They appear to be new, and are sold in a cardboard/plastic package of eight.
The cynic in me wonders if perhaps American Ticonderogas are still made, but solely for export!
My impression is that the lead is significantly higher quality than other recently found Ticonderogas. They also sport a more traditional appearance!