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Musgrave Ceres

There is something to be said for a classic yellow pencil.  After being inspired by episode 60 of Erasable, I decided to dig into my pencil case and try out a pencil I have yet to review/use.  I was immediately drawn to the Ceres due to its sharp lines and unique script that was stamped on the barrel.

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Musgrave produces four grades of this pencil and I am using the #1 grade for this review.  Immediately upon sharpening the Ceres I was greeted with the smell of good old cedar.  The Ceres sharpened very easily and the graphite was perfectly centered which allowed for even sharpening.  Interestingly enough, about a third of the way through the pencil, I found a knot in the wood barrel.

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I had never seen this before and though it was pretty interesting.  The small imperfection made the next few sharpenings difficult as the graphite was exposed unevenly, but once I sharpened my way out of it things were fine.  Writing with the Ceres was great and the pencil laid down decent lines.  The graphite was nice and smooth and I’d say the darkness was comprabale to a 2B (this is totally just eyeballing it).  The eraser on the Ceres was below average at best.

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The rubber was very gritty and when I did try to erase with it, it wore down very quickly.  Don’t plan on using the eraser if you don’t have to.  The black paint on the barrel began to wear off pretty quickly with normal use, but that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me.  I prefer a well-worn writing instrument.  Overall, the Musgrave Ceres is a great little pencil that is completely affordable (40 cents a piece at CW Pencils), but did not entirely win me over.  While I stated the graphite was smooth and not scratchy, it did not have the buttery smoothness I prefer in my graphite.  Also, not only is the eraser pretty crappy, but I had a hard time erasing with my everyday block eraser as well.  The graphite comes off the paper, but not as cleanly as I like.  If I had to give a rating it would be a meh.  average.  Stay tuned, because next week I will be reviewing the newest CW Pencils acquisitions: The Goldfish Autocrat, Blue Bird, and Vista from Shashon Pencil Company.

Marking Pencil Round-Up

For those of you that are unaware, I work part time in a community college writing center.  I find myself reading and editing papers for hours and have been searching for the perfect marking pencil.  While my list is not exhaustive, I tried to explore a variety of brands that are easily available to anyone.  I have used each pencil for about a week and have been able to form what I feel is a solid opinion on what to try and what to avoid.  First, here is a general overview of each pencil and a writing sample for each:

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As you can see all six pencils are quite different when it comes to color and hardness.  I will address the list top to bottom.

Tombow 8900 Vermilion ($0.85)

The Tombow 8900 wrote smoothly and the point retention was one of best of the pencils.  The ability to keep a sharp point on the Tombow allowed the maximum amount of correction with a minimum amount of sharpening.  For me, this is key when working with a student.  Less sharpening means a longer lasting pencil as well.  I could see myself using this pencil on a regular basis for correction.  I found the Tombow 8900 at a Kinokuniya bookstore, but Ebay tends to carry them occasionally.

Caran d’Ache 999 Bicolor ($2.80)

The Caran d’Ache 999 is vibrant and one of the truest to the color red behind the Mitsubishi 772.  The core is super smooth and much to my surprise point retention is above average for such a smooth pencil.  I also like that the 999 is a hex pencil as it is much more comfortable (for me) to hold and rotate while writing.  The only drawback is the price of this pencil.

General’s Red ($0.40)

The General’s Red has the best point retention of all of pencils I have ever used, but it is the worst as far as pigment is concerned.  It is way too light to be effective and feels horribly scratchy.  This pencil is a disappointment and you shouldn’t buy it.  I struggled trying to make my marks noticeable on papers for students and halfway through a session I picked up another pencil it was so bad.  Just don’t.

Musgrave 525 Hermitage ($0.29)

The Hermitage is a great middle of the road pencil.  The core is dark enough to be effective, but is not so soft that you feel like you are writing with a crayon. I found myself using this pencil more and more as the weeks progressed and was not disappointed with the results.  For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised as a lot of my experience with Musgrave products has left me feeling meh.

Mitsubishi 772 Vermilion ($1.00)

The 772 is vibrant and works very well for making small grammatical edits to 12-point font.  When editing papers, clarity is key and the Mitsubishi 772 is as clear as day.  The core is a bit softer than others, but as long as you rotate the pencil ever few marks you make, it seems to wear down just as much as an average pencil.  If I had to pick a winner it would be this pencil.

Mitsubishi Red “Smooth Writing Taste” ($1.65)

This pencil is smooth alright.  So smooth that you feel like you are writing with a crayon.  I love the color it lays down, but the Mitsubishi Red is not for making small edits or writing within the margin.  I’d say this pencil is perfect for making “checks” and “x” marks on papers or maybe even for underlining text, but not for the work I do.  It does get bonus points for its slogan though!

Overall my top two are the Mitsubishi 772 and the Caran d’Ache 999.  Both pencils have great, vibrant color without feeling too waxy.  The Hermitage comes in a close third (I’d even say a tie for second) with its point retention and affordability.  Either way, I hope this has helped those of you that are looking for marking pencils.

 

 

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Musgrave Bugle No. 2

When I randomly selected the pencil for this week’s review I was admittedly grumpy with my resulting pick.  I have a dislike for round barreled pencils.  I tend to have a pretty strong grip and I just cannot get comfortable using anything other than a hexagonal or triangular pencil.  The Musgrave Bugle itself is quite charming– it has a nice, deep white imprint of two bugles (duh) and Musgrave’s own branding.  I usually do not like when there is a lot of information on a pencil, but this works.  I love the contrast of white stamping against the glossy wood grain.

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Image Courtesy of: Johnny Gamber @ Pencil Revolution

This pencil has no ferrule or eraser, so it is a bit light, but nothing a pencil cap eraser cannot fix.  The Bugle sharpens perfectly with no point breakage or crumbling.  This is a bonus for me since I spend a lot of time taking notes and do not have time to fuss with crumbly graphite.  Point retention is average (I press a bit hard, so this is always a subjective viewpoint).  It fares far better than last week’s pencil with it comes to smearing and transfer, yet it still has a dark enough lay down of graphite to be acceptable for my needs.

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Another thing I was able to mitigate, but worth bringing up nonetheless was how light the pencil is without an eraser and ferrule.  If you prefer heft to the non-writing end of your pencil, definitely use an eraser cap.  I used a lovely little one I picked up from Caroline at CW Pencil Enterprise, the Blüm which erases well and comes in nifty neon colors (I love neon).  Sadly, she does not seem to carry them anymore, but you can find more info here.  At twenty five cents a pencil, it is definitely worth purchasing a few of the Musgrave Bugles for your supply.  Caroline sells singles, so be sure to head there to pick a few up (plus, she’s awesome).  Overall 8.0/10

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Musgrave Harvest #2

Musgrave Pencil Company is located in Shelbyville, TN and has been manufacturing pencils since 1916.  While they have a plethora of school-grade pencils, Musgrave is known today as the place to go for custom pencils.  With hundreds of options for a billion (ok, I’m exaggerating) occasions, I am sure at some point you have held a Musgrave made pencil in your hand.  This week I chose the Musgrave Harvest #2 I purchased in one of my many hauls from CW Pencil Enterprise.  It is a simple-looking school pencil with gold foil stamping and a gold ferrule with a maroon colored stripe.

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The Harvest sharpened up nicely and the shavings had a nice smell to them.  Point retention was average, but it was definitely frustrating to have to sharpen so often this past week.  The darkness of the graphite was a bit too light for me, but it did not smear and had no discernible grit while writing.  The eraser, on the other hand, was horrible.  Not only did it barely do its job, it seemed to slough off like a skin-like material (see below).  Not sure what’s up with that, but don’t use the eraser if you don’t have to.

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Writing with the Harvest was not uncomfortable, but I did cramp up a bit due to the perceived lightness to the way the graphite laid down on paper.  By Friday, I was down to a nub and was worried I wouldn’t make it through the rest of the day, but the Harvest pulled through.

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At 35 cents a pencil, you get what you pay for: a cheap, yet effective pencil.  Just do not use the eraser unless you are desperate or hate your paper.  Overall: 6.5/10

 

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Musgrave Test Scoring Pencil

I thank the heavens that I rarely do not have to do a test via Scantron sheets anymore, but when I randomly selected the pencil for this week I had flashbacks to those dreadful sheets.  I was super excited to try out the Musgrave Test Scoring pencil since I really love how fierce the hexagonal barrel of the pencil is.  I am a big fan of hexagonal pencils and really hate when pencil manufacturers “round off” their pencils to give them a softer line.  But alas, this is just personal preference and while it did award the pencil some brownie points, it did not impact the review much.

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The imprint on the Musgrave is very utilitarian; the lacquer is a silvery gray, the imprint is a simple black stamping of the name of the pencil and where it was manufactured.  I do like that it has four square boxes with one colored in to further drive home the point that it is– indeed– a Test Scoring pencil.  The “100” is a nice touch as well, as it gives me something to strive for while test taking.  All kidding aside, this pencil is a clean and basic representation of what a .40 pencil should be.

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Sharpening the Musgrave Test Scoring pencil went smoothly (no pun intended, I swear!) and confirmed the fact that this is a very soft and dark pencil.  The electro-graphite is extra reflective so it is easily picked up by test-scanning machines and the extra softness helps you lay down smooth dark lines.  Besides test-taking, I could see this pencil being used for Sudoku puzzles or newspaper crossword puzzles since it is nice and dark.  Writing with the pencil all week was a chore for me because I had to sharpen it way more often than normal.  On about Thursday, I was not sure if the pencil would last the whole week, but I made it with room to spare.  The eraser on the pencil is very hard and dusty and while it does its job, I prefer to use a separate eraser.

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As with all of the pencils I review, I look at them with a heavy-writing perspective.  All of my reviews keep that sole fact in mind.  With that being said, my score for things is through the lens of a full-time student who does a lot of writing.  So the Musgrave Test Scoring pencil, while it is a decent pencil for what it is intended to do, did not work that well for me this week (that’s not to say it isn’t awesome for other applications!).  Overall 3/10