Here are a couple of oversize pencils from Dixon – the Laddie and Beginners.
The Beginners in particular seems to make people laugh when they see it. There is definitely something amusing about it. It looks just like a regular Ticonderoga, except that it is round and almost twice the diameter. The Laddie is somewhere between the regular and Beginners pencils.
Where there is a Laddie, there is often a Lassie, but I couldn’t find that brand offered.
The Beginners box says, “The Perfect Oversized Beginner Pencil”, while the Laddie claims to be “The Perfect Intermediate Beginner Pencil.”
The boxes also have a faux seal stating “Teacher Preferred”.
A ring with smaller text states, “Tradition & Quality Since 1795.”
Not in pencils of course – Dixon was making stove polish and crucibles back than. This mention of the company’s year of origin strikes me as just a bit curious.
The boxes indicate the pencils are made in Mexico.
They sharpen easily, but the lead seems not to match that of modern Ticonderogas, and is somewhat scratchier in my testing. That’s too bad, as these pencils won’t be offering the best experience for the children who use them.
Has Dixon gone too far in extending the Ticonderoga brand?
Fort Ticonderoga has played a part in French, British, and especially American history. It played a landmark role in the American revolution. The Ticonderoga pencil has been named and marketed such that its identity is inextricably bound with this history. Dixon, dating from the 18th century, was itself a part of American history. Some would call the Dixon Ticonderoga successful branding.
So when Dixon releases a pencil like the Ticonderoga Noir, a Made in China garish fluorescent silver finish pencil with black dyed wood, I have to ask, have they strayed too far from the Ticonderoga brand and tradition? If they felt they had to release such a pencil, did they have to do it in the Ticonderoga name?
Am I being too harsh? Do you like this pencil? Would you buy it?
A dozen vintage Dixon pencils.
They are marked:
Leadfast PAT. 1927142 Made in U.S.A. Dixon Ticonderoga 1395 No. 2 5/10
A cardboard holder has an illustration of Fort Ticonderoga, and the slogan “A Dixon Pencil For Every Use”.
US Patent 1927142 was issued on September 19, 1933, for the eraser/ferrule combination.
They don’t make them like this anymore!
Found in a drawer – nine yellow office pencils, sharpened and ready to use.
The pencils are marked:
1. Czechoslovakia Bohemia Works Deluxe 1380 HB
As Czechoslovakia split up in 1993, this pencil is an interesting historical item. I seem to recall Bohemia Works pencils being available some years ago.
2. Roundedge Grand & Toy HB
Dating from the 1880s, Grand & Toy used to be the leading Canadian office supply chain. They still exist, but are now owned by the OfficeMax chain. Today, nearly all hexagonal pencils have rounded edges, but I’m wondering if this line was introduced at a time when the name may have been a selling point.
3. Province of Ontario HB
A government office pencil that went astray?
4. Canada Dixon System 2500 – HB
It sounds like a fictional mainframe computer to me – the “System 2500”.
5. Canada Berol Valor 131 B
There is a Shaeffer Valor pen on the market, but I was unaware of this pencil brand.
6. FaberCastell American 2 (Also the impression “U.S.A. Bonded”)
I believe the brand still exists in the Sanford lineup. This pencil would be post-Eberhard Faber, pre-Sanford in the timeline. Note that “FaberCastell” is styled as a single word.
7. Eagle Mirado 174 HB (The reverse has the impression “Procede “Chemi-Sealed” R Bonded Canada”)
The Mirado name is of course still around today.
And two pencils are duplicated.
So we have one pencil from the former Czechoslovakia, one from the US, and three from the Canadian subsidiaries of US firms. An interesting assortment.
On a recent trip to a department store, I found an unusual pencil offering – “Ticonderoga Antimicrobial Pencils with Microban antimicrobial product protection.” The package additionally says “Microban protection inhibits the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria.”
The colour is hard for me to describe, but a hospital influenced muted grey seems roughly correct. It is certainly a pencil colour I’ve never seen before. Not too appealing, I would say.
The pencils are simply marked “Dixon Ticonderoga 2 HB”. The package reveals that the pencils are made in Mexico.
A quick search reveals that Microban is a chemical treatment that will prohibit microbial growth. The health and safety benefits of antimicrobial products have been regularly questioned, and I note that Dixon was quite restrained in claiming any safety benefits on the package. Still, I think there is an unambiguous implicit message in such products: keep safe from those nasty germs!
I’m usually happy to find a new pencil, but learning of this product doesn’t produce any sort of joy for me.
Will this be a popular back-to-school pencil with worried parents? Do you welcome the antimicrobial Ticonderoga? Would you buy it yourself?
The Dixon Ticonderoga is a staple. It’s one of the oldest and most distinguished names in the American pencil industry. It’s also now made in China.
Some fear a decline in quality. But what are they worried about? Check the back of the package: