Musing About Pencils

When I was growing up there was a small pencil factory in town, the Ruwe pencil company.  They had their shop in a small building on the West side of town and I think that just about every pencil in school came from them.  I think that I went on at least one field trip there as well.  At least I remember the mills and gluing machines working away.

Here’s some of their pencils.

here’s a short history of the pencil.

How they make pencil leads.

Making wood pencils.

General Pencil is still in business.

Another Video.

The pencil and the power of markets.

With pencils you need erasers.

Pencils are an interesting example of something that is seemingly simple yet involves a complex logistics to get to the point of creating the pencil.  The fact that all of that works so well that nobody thinks very much about it is one of the wonders of the time we live in.  We should remember the story of the pencil.


Why are pencils yellow.  Because at one time the best graphite came from China and in China in the 19th Century the color for royalty was yellow.  So ‘regal’ or high quality pencils were painted yellow.  I suspect that all too soon, most pencils were painted yellor whether they had the ‘regal” graphite or not.


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