This week has been quite the experience for me and my pencil adventures. The EF Principal School Pencil was a pencil that I had been trying to find for years. Back in the early 90s, I was in high school and while pilfering the supply closet in the classroom, I came across a nice crisp box of these guys:
I distinctly remember using them religiously; they were far superior to all of the other crap pencils I had used and were more aesthetically pleasing than the gross black and some-kind-of-color BIC mechanical pencils that just came out. I made sure that I kept myself well stocked and often risked punishment by “pretending” I forgot my pen/pencil that day so I could take a trip to the cabinet. Fast forward 20 years…
I was browsing ebay using the search term “vintage pencils” (of course) and these beauties popped up. I instantly felt the excitement and wonderment I had felt in my high school days and clicked on “Buy it Now” before I could change my mind. When they arrived, I couldn’t wait to sharpen one; oh to feel like I felt back when this pencil was the coolest kid on the block. I had looked forward to using this pencil for an entire week and swore that it would be hard to move on once I finished with my 7 days of use. I was wrong and in the meantime taught myself a powerful lesson about nostalgia.
The EF Principal sharpened beautifully and held its point longer than most pencils I have used. It truly was a great pencil to work with this week since my stats class has been forcing me to take 5+ pages of notes each class. My excitement quickly faded though when I began to realize that its hardness didn’t match up to what I preferred. I just didn’t write as smoothly and as dark as I am used to. The pencil’s second strike came on Wednesday when I was taking notes and began to feel a scratchiness to the graphite. So much scratchiness that I actually had to scribble the point down and resharpen to get it writing smoothly again. The third strike was a result of the first two strikes; I just couldn’t seem to write as quickly with this pencil.
I had to take breaks more often and found myself pushing down a lot harder because I felt as though that would somehow impact the darkness of the graphite (spoiler: it didn’t). The EF Principal is not a horrible pencil by any means, but it does fall short on many of what I deem to be “pencil necessities” (smoothness and durability). The positives were great, but they all seemed to be about the form of this pencil and not the function. Firstly, the foil stamping was nice a crisp and shiny. The silver foil stamping coupled with the gold ferrule really gave this pencil a unique look.
The pencil had a nice weight to it and you could just tell it was made with quality materials. The eraser was a nice bright pink, and erased well (even after 20+ years), but it left way too much dust and debris. I was quite disappointed that this pencil did not perform the way I remembered, but isn’t that often the way life is anyway? Things always seemed to be much better than they actually really were because we want them to be that way. In all actuality, we do this because we yearn for the past and sometimes those objects we have attached to our past hold much more significance in theory than they do in reality.
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.