Nataraj was a pencil brand I had never heard of until I found it in Caroline Weaver’s shop online. After doing a bit of research, I found out that Nataraj was a brand from the company Hindustan Pencils Pvt. Ltd out of India. Established in 1958 and touted as the largest pencil manufacturer in India, Hindustan Pencils has become a household name in India and exports to 50 different countries. Hindustan has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that can produce 8 million pencils a day. Upon sharpening the pencil for the first time, I was perplexed. The wood grain was unlike anything I have ever seen before.
On Hindustan’s website they state that they “…do not use any forest wood for manufacturing pencils…we procure wood from the farmers who either grow trees on their farm, land or in the court yard of their residential premises. This practice ensures an uninterrupted supply of wood of consistent quality. It also helps protect bio-diversity and maintain ecological balance.” It is reassuring to know that they are following environmentally conscious practices, but I am really curious what woods they are actually using. Nonetheless, I miss the rich smell of cedar.
When using the pencil for the first time, the lead was very crumbly and not so much soft as it was “weak.” I am not expecting superb quality from a pencil that retails for around 25 cents, but it could have been a better first impression. I love the neon colors the pencils come in and enjoy that the eraser matches the pencil color. The eraser seems to be made of some sort of PVC-like material and does not do a good job at all. We shall see what the week brings…
It has been a great week with the Pacific. I definitely prefer the softer lead grade compared to last week’s Mongol. I also did a lot more writing this week with the Pacific. Between meetings, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles and journal entries, this pencil really got a work out. The KUM Long Point sharpener really made a difference this week as well as I prefer the long point on my pencils. The KUM Brass Wedge has its place, but I think from now on, I will exclusively use the Long Point. One thing that was noticeable about this pencil was that it seemed more fragrant than the Mongol of last week. I have a couple of theories on that: the Pacific is a newer pencil so maybe it retained its fragrant cedar smell or it could have been the different sharpener which shaves away more of the pencil when sharpening. Either way, I enjoyed the rich smell wafting from my pencil shavings as a I enjoyed my favorite maple latte at the local coffee joint.
I was unable to carve out time this week to work on my cursive writing, so I have no samples to show, but next week’s pencil will be all about the cursive (I hope it’s a good choice). I did my normal review as always in my Public Supply pocket notebook I acquired from CW Pencil Enterprise. Here are my final thoughts:
This week I decided to use a pencil that has its origins in my home state of New Jersey. Edward Weissenborn, a mechanical engineer, learned the art of pencil making in Germany while working for the Renbach Lead Pencil Company. In 1854, Weissenborn came to American with dreams of opening his own pencil factory and in 1860 his dreams would come true. The American Pencil Company had the reputation of making quality pencils and received many accolades from prominent figures such as the Governor and Mayor of NYC at the time. The American Pencil Company was later sold so Weissenborn could pursue other ventures.
Just a few years later Edward Weissenborn’s son Oscar followed in his father’s footsteps and opened his own pencil company and in 1914 moved to a factory in Jersey City and General Pencil Company was born. For over 100 years, General’s has been family run and owned and operates out of the same Jersey City factory. General’s has since expanded to California to become closer to the incense cedar supply and to the Western market. General pencil still uses genuine California Incense Cedar wood and its same quality formulas from years past.
I was originally going to try a different sharpener every week, but I have found that the KUM Automatic Brake Long Point sharpener consistently provides the type of point I like to start with. I do not like that it has a plastic body that is prone to cracking and wearing out, but until KUM brings the Masterpiece over here to the States, this is what I have to work with. The Pacific sharpened up beautifully and the minute I put graphite to paper I was pleased. This pencil is such a contrast to last week’s Mongol in regards to the smoothness of writing. The lead is a bit softer, but I was able to complete a crossword puzzle, two sudoku puzzles and my weekly checklist without sharpening.
I am really looking forward to using the Pacific this week and can’t wait to see how longer writing samples feel. I have also begun to relearn cursive writing, so with this pencil’s smoothness and overall hand feel, I feel as though this is a perfect week to practice my penmanship of yesteryear. Stay tuned for further thoughts this week and most likely (horrible) cursive writing samples.
This week has been great and I really enjoyed focusing on just one pencil all week. I can honestly say that I have been sucked back into the pencil world full force; just ask CW Pencil Enterprise! Writing with the Eberhard Faber Mongol 482 has been a real treat and I will be sad to put it back in my quiver for now. Here are my thoughts:
I think it is important to explain that my reviews are subjective. When I do objectively review a product– if this blog expands– I will say so, but for now these are just my preferences and opinions. Overall, the Mongol will stay in my pencil roll and with only 30 precious slots, it is a good place to be. See you next week!
I have had time to write a bit with the Mongol 482 and already have some distinctive observations. Firstly, the Mongol has a great weight to it. It feels very balanced and solid. Writing with the Mongol has been a pleasure and I have found that I really only needed to sharpen the pencil once a B5-sized page. The lead hardness is a little hard for my liking since I regularly use 2B lead, but it transfers well to the paper and writing is easy to read.
I really am enjoying my experience with this pencil. I haven’t done nearly as much writing as I normally do for school, but the writing I have done has been a pleasure. I can’t stop raving about the durability of the lead. As a very hard pressing writer, not one point has broken yet and writing right after using the KUM Long-Point was a joy.
On the non-technical side of things, writing with a pencil that is almost 70 years old has been quite the trip. I find myself wondering about the story of this pencil; did it reside in a teacher’s classroom at some point or just having my mind blown about the idea that this pencil has seen the landing on the moon and existed on this earth for 30 years already when I was born in 1980. A lot of times people just pick up a pen or pencil and write, but stopping to think about the pencil’s journey really can blow one’s mind.
I had a hard time deciding which pencil to choose as my first. My knee-jerk reaction was to pick my current favorite the Tombow MONO 100, but I wanted something new. I also want this blog experience to be unique and have all of you see my new experiences unfold as I discover them. Utilizing my limited historical pencil knowledge, I remembered that the Mongol was the first US pencil to be dressed in the majestic yellow that we all know and love. And, well, with this being the first week of writing about pencils, it seemed perfect. Since this is a blog about pencil usage, I won’t be able to really delve into the history of the Mongol, but there is a great post on the blog Contrapuntalism that talks a bit about Eberhard Faber. So now onto the Mongol:
My sharpener of choice for this week is the oh-so-lovely KUM Brass Wedge Single Hole Sharpener 300-1. Might be hard to find in the US since it was discontinued due to lead concerns, but if you find one I highly recommend it. Just don’t eat it or give it to small children. The Mongol I am using is an 482 F from the 1950s. It is so beautiful and the lead is perfectly centered. I almost don’t want to sharpen it, but alas, we are here to write.
As I am still not in school until the second week of September, my writing this week will consist of my Morning Pages, notes from meetings I attend and (most importantly) my weekly Dungeons & Dragons game. My main writing paper of choice is the Kokuyo Campus B5 notebook. The paper in the Campus notebooks is velvety smooth and a pleasure to write on. My current pocket notebook is a Field Notes State Fair edition (Massachusetts). My sharpening experience was a breeze and the KUM sharpener tackled the task with ease. I am looking forward to writing with this pencil this week. I’ll talk to all of you in a few days to let you know how it is going.