A couple of months ago I received a very brightly colored piece of mail delivered to the shop. Inside I found a note written in perfect cursive about a mutual love of pencil signed "Love, Lucy/ Age 11". Surprised that this eloquent, well-written note had come from an 11 year-old I re-read it and responded immediately. Lucy continued to write to me on e-mail and a couple of weeks later I received a letter from her 9 year old sister Perry, who like her sister has a really wonderful understanding and appreciation for our wood-cased favorites. Over a couple of months we continued to correspond. Meanwhile, Lucy and Perry convinced their parents to bring them to the city to visit us. A few weeks ago we finally got to meet them in person. We spent hours (actually!) playing with the Kingsley Machine, putting together gifts and talking pencils. These ladies seriously know their stuff and we're so excited to have a couple of kid pencil experts in our lives! I sent over some questions to Lucy and Perry to get their insight on all things pencil:
Tell us about yourselves!
We are 12 and 9 years old. We live in Washington, DC. Our pencil pet peeve is probably when the core of the pencil is really off- centered or when the pencil snaps instantly after sharpening! We both enjoy reading, swimming, making art, and listening to the musical Hamilton.
Above: a piece of pottery with a sheet of paper and pencil on it that Perry made for Lucy at camp.
If you could only use three pencils for the rest of your life what would they be?
Lucy: I would choose the Blackwing 602 for its beauty and how it glides across the paper, a CWPE x Caran d'Ache Black Wood for the point retention and how I don't have to press that hard to get a dark line, and The Editor for the practicality!
Perry: I would also want the Blackwing 602 because it's very pretty and you can adjust the eraser. Not to mention it feels great when writing with it. I'd choose the Gekkoso (8B) since it is amazing to draw with. It erases well even though it makes such a dark line. Lastly, I'd pick the Nataraj Platinum because you can shade well with it and it's elegant.
Above: Lucy's current stash
What is it that you love about pencils over other writing instruments?
We both love how you can get so many shades from one writing instrument. Also, we love hearing the sound of sharpening and the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil. Plus the added benefit of being able to erase it!
What do your friends think about your pencil obsession?
Our friends thought that our obsession was odd at first, but they sort of just learned to deal with it after a while! Some have even expressed interest in the topic themselves.
If you could create your own perfect pencil what would it be?
It would be one with an endless eraser, cap, a good grip attached, elegant, and somehow still be sharpened without it ever getting shorter!
Above: Perry's current stash
Do you have any strange uses for your pencils?
We wouldn't say strange uses, but what's strange is that we carry a pencil with us literally wherever we go!
What's your favorite math pencil?
Lucy: My favorite is probably the Grip 2001(HB) because it runs slightly hard so it can write for a long time without me having to sharpen it. It also erases well and doesn't smudge often.
Perry: I honestly use whatever pencil I can find in my desk since l can't lug my pencil collection to school!
Do you have a favorite pencil anecdote or story?
We'd say the Dixon Ticonderoga or the Blackwing 602. The Ticonderoga was made in the USA for a long time before the quality diminished when production was moved to Mexico and China. The Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 was discontinued in 1998 and unused stock began selling on Ebay for more than $40 per pencil. In 2010, Palomino started producing a new line of Blackwings, including the 602, Pearl, and the "Black Blackwing."
During our time with Lucy and Perry they told us over lunch about the pencil quiz they made for their family (their parents failed--but they're learning!). Give it a try!
Pencil Quiz!! __/100
- What is the little metal thing (or plastic/cardboard) called that holds the eraser? _________________________________________
- What do the letters B and H stand for? ___________________________________________________
- What is the highest grade of a pencil? Both H and B. (Hint: they’re numbers with the H or B attached to it) ___________________________________________________
- When were the first pencils introduced? ___________________________________________________
- Where in Europe were pencils first introduced? ___________________________________________________
- Name the country in Asia where cute office supplies are a big hit. ___________________________________________________
CW Pencil Enterprise Questions:
1. Who is the owner? ____________________________________
2. When was the store built? _______________________________
3. Name three pencil brands whose pencils are still made in the USA
and are in her shop/online. ____________________________________
4. Name two types of Blackwings she sells. ____________________
Draw the H/B scale.