The Glory That Is Graphite: Pencils Deserve Some Respect
Are you a fan of the No. 2? Get your hands on some of these.
Credit: Mark Wagoner
Pens get all the good ink. Witness some copy from a recent full-page newspaper advertisement for an investment house: "This pen wields power. It signs contracts authorizing loans to enterprising individuals and ambitious companies. It confirms investment plans . . . " yadda yadda yadda.The pen symbolizes permanence and importance. The pen writes history, which is why, when U.S. presidents sign legislation, the several pens used are handed out as prized souvenirs.
But pity the poor pencil. This noble invention, free of blots, humbly willing to have its words erased and rewritten, does its excellent work in the shadow of disdain. "Pencil me in," says the person who may not keep an appointment. Doomed to stand for all that is temporary and undependable, pencils get no respect. Did anyone ever say, "The pencil is mightier than the sword"? Did John Hancock sign his John Hancock with a nervously chewed yellow stump sharpened with a knife?
But pencils deserve a higher place on the doodling order. The very fact that they aren't so permanent should make them lovable in our evanescent age. Power to the pencil.
To make a stylish statement about having the write stuff, try one of these four variations on the theme that do the job with penless panache. We admit that three figures may seem steep, but often better prices are available at Web sites like www.joon.com, www.bittner.com, and penoutlet.com.
Charcoal, parchment, or marbleized blue, red, or yellow, all acetate with sterling silver/0.7 mm lead/$460
Black or brown pearwood, or light maplewood/1.4 mm lead/$40
Various colors/5.6 mm lead for drawing, shading, et cetera/$36
Two-tone acetate with silver scroll decoration/0.7 mm lead/$172