When customizing pencils, it only makes sense to gain an appreciation for their history first. We're firm believers in staying sharp and knowledgeable. There are often stories attached to the development and introduction of a certain object. The pencil is no exception. The history of the pencil goes back much further than you would think. Over the years, this writing instrument has not only survived, it has evolved and improved, becoming a crucial part of our everyday lives.
How It All Began
Legend has it, pencils originated after a crazy storm hit Cumbria, England in the 16th Century. During the storm, a tree was uprooted and people discovered a magical substance on its roots. That substance was graphite!
At first, it was only shepherds who made use of graphite. They would use it to mark their sheep.
Eventually, artists and surveyors started to wrap it with string, sheepskin, and (eventually) wood to make it easier to use.
The first depiction of a wood pencil was made in 1565 by Conrad Gessner, who published a drawing of a piece of graphite in a wooden tube. His invention quickly gained popularity in Europe.
In 1794, a war took place between Britain and France. France was cut off from Britain's high-quality graphite supply. As a result, French engineer, Nicholas Conté, was tasked with finding an alternative. In 1795, Conté ground up some impure graphite, mixed it with clay, shaped his mixture into rods and burned them in a kiln. Genius!
Soon after, he discovered that by varying the proportions of his concoction, he was able to alter the hardness of the pencil core and the darkness of the color it produced. Nicholas Conté's method is the one we use today! In fact, the H in "HB" stands for hardness while the B stands for blackness. The #2 HB pencil is the most commonly used pencil today as it is neither too hard nor too soft.
63 years later, a gentleman named Hymen Lipman came along and introduced the idea of attaching erasers to the end of pencils. Before erasers, people would use lumps of stale bread to erase their mistakes. Yikes!
In short, pencils have had quite the journey. Now that you're able to fully appreciate the beauty of a #2 HB pencil, we think it's time to personalize some pencils of your own.