Ruwe Pencil Co. 205 No. 7S pencil

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Ruwe Pencil Co. 205 No. 7S pencil

You never know what a small city art supply store will offer. Last weekend, I found some pencils for sale from a long defunct Connecticut pencil manufacturer.

Ruwe Pencil Co. was purchased by Dixon in 1988, and I had only heard of them from collecting sites like Brand Name Pencils, so it was surprising to see some Ruwe pencils for sale at retail.

This pencil, the 205 No. 7S, is a “Polyester Drafting Film” pencil. For those of us (including myself) who don’t regularly work with specialty architectural and drafting films, this is a type of matte surface film with a number of properties that support drawing. You can see it for sale at Dick Blick for example. Staedtler and others do mention that their pencils work on drafting film.

Ruwe Pencil Co. 205 No. 7S pencil

The pencil also has markings from Keuffel and Esser, an engineering and drafting supplies firm. Perhaps the pencil was made for them.

A page at the Smithsonian website suggests K&E’s demise was in 1969, so this pencil might be much older than 1988.

A nice link to the past for only thirty cents.

Results (The Great Debate III: The shape of pencils)

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Thank you to everyone who voted and/or left comments in this latest poll.

The final results left no doubt that the preferred pencil shape is hexagonal:

Hexagonal: 31
Round: 2
Triangular: 10

Comments reflected the personal nature of choosing a favourite writing implement. It was noted that the offerings are far fewer in the round and triangular shapes.

Combining the three polls so far, the most desired pencil style would be hexagonal in shape, without an eraser, and sold unsharpened. This is quite interesting – in North America, there aren’t many pencils sold at retail in this format. Satisfying two of the three criteria is much more common.

Vintage Pencil Quiz

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Pencil Talk Vintage Pencil Quiz

Yesterday’s quiz on modern pencils was fun, so let’s try a vintage version.

Many of these brands carry on, although not necessarily under the same ownership. Others are sadly gone.

[UPDATE]

Michael and others demonstrated a great knowledge of yesteryear’s pencils.

The pencils are (left to right):

1. Eberhard Faber Microtomic
2. IBM Electrographic
3. Eagle Black Warrior
4. A. W. Faber Castell 9000
5. Eberhard Faber Mongol
6. Blackfeet Indian
7. Venus Super Velvet
8. Eagle Turquoise
9. L & C Hardmuth Mephisto
10. Staedtler Mars

Pencil Talk Quiz

The Great Debate II: pencils with or without an eraser?

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The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

Following our first poll on pre-sharpened pencils, we consider the question of pencils being sold with attached erasers.

The manufacturer lineup is a bit different than on the sharpened/unsharpened question. American manufacturers tend to be the ones generally offering pencils with erasers. But exceptions abound – the photo shows the famous Faber-Castell 9000 in both traditional and eraser attached versions. Japanese manufacturers do make at least novelty pencils with erasers.

There are some potential problems with attached erasers. The eraser isn’t always the type one would like. The photo shows a white vinyl eraser, but most pencils come with a Pink Pearl style eraser. What if you don’t like the style or type of eraser that comes with your pencil? You are stuck.

The eraser on a pencil tip is also fairly small, and can easily be used up if one does a lot of erasing. The remaining bit of ferrule and eraser stub doesn’t look so appealing, nor is it useful.

The eraser can also harden over time. The erasers on many older pencils are dried up, even though the pencil is still otherwise in great condition. Some ferrules can also rust over time.

Note: The Kita-Boshi Wood Note pencil and Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil are both exceptions. They were designed to allow eraser replacement:

The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

As well, consider the manufacturer’s dilemma – a first rate pencil (the core of the business) could be diminished in the marketplace by a second rate eraser.

On the plus side, the attached eraser can be an immense convenience. One single object to hold and use is the ideal.

It is also what some may consider to be an intrinsic part of the pencil experience. It just “feels right” for many.

This mode of usage continues in modern touch screen devices. I attended a lecture where the speaker had a touch sensitive tablet, and wrote on it with a stylus. The tablet screen was projected onto a large cinema-style screen so that the audience could observe. To edit a diagram, the speaker turned the stylus upside down and “erased” previous markings. The well known interface of pencil erasing was carried on in a paper-less, pencil-less format.

So what do you prefer, and more importantly, why? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.

{democracy:2}

The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

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The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

New pencils are sold both sharpened and unsharpened. The major European manufacturers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Lyra, Stabilo, etc.) all typically sell their pencils pre-sharpened. In contrast, the Japanese (Kita-Boshi, Pentel, Mitsubishi, Tombow) and American (Sanford, Dixon) manufacturers generally sell pencils unsharpened. There are of course exceptions.

Pre-sharpening can provide a convenience factor to consumers. But it also has drawbacks – the pencils are more likely to get broken in transport from store to home/office. As well, the angle of sharpening might be different than that provided by your preferred sharpener, and require a couple of unideal sharpenings before it’s right.

It also deprives one of the pleasant sharpening ritual, the defined initiation of a new pencil.

On the plus side, a pre-sharpened pencil is instantly useable, and sharpeners aren’t always at hand or convenient to use. The factory sharpening could be viewed as a small courtesy towards the customer.

So what do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.

{democracy:1}