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?
This new post at Timberlines discusses the recent acquisition of Lyra by Fila.
Here is an Italian language business article on the subject. Several more can be found online.
Given that American-made Dixon pencils seem to have disappeared under Fila’s ownership, one has to wonder if the German-made Lyra pencil has a future.
A specialty pencil for highlighting, the Lyra Mega Liner 96 is a woodcase pencil with a fluorescent wax core.
It is oversized, with an oversized core. I have yellow and blue versions, but it also comes in green, orange, and pink. The diameter is about 11mm, so they just fit in most large hole sharpeners.
The pencil is hexagonal, and has a very lightly varnished natural finish. It is imprinted:
Obverse: Germany [logo] Lyra Mega Liner 96 962n
Reverse: paper + copy + fax
Let me mention that I like liquid pigment fluorescent highlighters. My favourite, the see through Zebra Zazzle, disappeared from Canadian shelves a few years ago, but I still have a few.
The Lyra Mega Liner is not just for show – it is a working highlighter, leaving illuminated marks on paper.
I tried it on printed paper, and on a laser printout. It works, though it doesn’t give the saturated effect of fibre wedge highlighters dispensing bright yellow pigment.
Lyra Mega Liner, printed paper
Lyra Mega Liner, printed paper
Lyra Mega Liner, laser printout
Zebra Zazzle (for comparison), laser printout
If I could find these locally, I might be using them every day. But via mail order, they become expensive for an ancillary item.
I’ve written before about the Lyra Ferby. I think it’s a great pencil that deserves more recognition. For a start, the artists who enjoy the Koh-I-Noor Triograph should give the Ferby a try.
But there has been a problem with the Ferby – as a short pencil, it won’t remain usable after a dozen sharpenings. Well, I just discovered that Lyra makes a pencil extender for the Ferby. (Shown above.)
The extender’s form is very simple – a wood cylinder.
While it was fun to discover this item, I’m afraid that I find this extender awkward and unwieldy. There also appears to be a better solution – Lyra makes a full length version of the Ferby, called the “Super Ferby”! Unfortunately, I’ve never seen them for sale. But I’ll keep my eye open!
Here are two really fun pencils that I found at a local art supply store.
The first is the Lyra Ferby Graphit 97100. It is a natural finish oversize triangular pencil. The length of the pencil is less than a standard pencil. The lead is also oversize.
This pencil is pure fun. The lead is very dark and smooth, of the same calibre as premium standard sized pencils. Although the pencil might be aimed at children, it makes sense that an art supply store (and a selective one compared to most in these parts) would stock this implement. You can’t help but start drawing or doodling with it.
It lets you do serious things with it, but if you don’t, that’s also fine.
The second pencil is also from Lyra, and it’s actually a pure stick or crayon of graphite with a paper wrapping. It’s identified as the Lyra 1772. This thing can draw some incredible lines. In 9B, it owns any page it touches, with it’s smooth dark markings.
But the fun doesn’t end there – there is a water-soluble variant, the Lyra 1773. Wrapped in blue paper (the 1772 has a black wrapper) , it’s slightly smaller in diameter.
You can dip it in water and start sketching – it creates an amazing silvery metallic finish. Or if your brush skills are up to the task, you can sketch first, and apply a brush with water. My attempts just smeared whatever I drew, but I’m sure a more skilled hand would succeed.
For a buck or two, I think these are a lot of fun.