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The wooden pencil uses two simple timber sections to encase a graphite and clay core. In the 1800‘s this provided a cheap writing implement that did much to improve the general levels of literacy. Today it is an essential item in any school, office or home.


Around 1560 an Italian couple, Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti, made the first wood-encased pencil. They hollowed out a juniper twig and inserted a stick of natural graphite.

In 1795 Nicolas-Jaques Conte discovered a method of mixing powdered graphite with clay which could be formed into a long cylindrical lead. Joseph Dixon then mass produced the first wooden pencil in 1829 and, in 1858, Hyman Lipman received a patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil.


A timber plank is machined to produce a series of grooves on one side. The moulded leads are inserted into the grooves and an identical timber half glued on the other side. These blocks are then dried, shaped and cut into individual pencils before they are painted or varnished.


The minute forms of the shiny brass cylinder which holds the rubber must be carefully noted, along with the bright highlights and the deep shadows which convey the metallic quality. These are contrasted by the soft rounded shape of the worn rubber. The light falling on the hexagonal shaft denotes the structure and emphasises the edges. As this pencil is well used the chips and scratches are important features.

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