This post from the Canadian Design Resource has a good history of these pencil crayons. They were originally called "Laurentian" (with an "a" not an "e") and were owned by the Venus Pencil Company, although later the name was changed to the French version Laurentien (with the "e"), apparently to help promote them in the Quebec market. In the mid-nineties, Laurentien was bought by Sanford. I remember when these pencils came in a nifty vinyl pouch that I coveted when my best friend owned a set, but this was later discontinued by Sanford. The colours each had a number and a name (the numbers were apparently a relic of the days when they were used in colour-by-number kits), and many of the names were rather unique (you can find a list of the names on Wikipedia). Unfortunately, the comments in this post tell a sad story: Laurentien pencil crayons have been discontinued and are now difficult to find (and those that are available are often of poorer quality). I was sorry to discover that when I was researching this post, and thankful that I was able to purchase my set several years ago.
The pencils themselves have an easily recognizable design, with the name "Laurentien", the name of the colour (in both English and French), and the number stamped on white on the body of the pencil. The large white space is apparently for students to write their name in, so they don't get their pencils mixed up with those of other students. The colours are vivid and blend relatively well; several years ago I made this chart showing the colours I had in my set (which included both the basic colours as well as 6 metallic colours).
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Most office and art supplies available in Canada today are made by American companies, so I am sorry to see the end of these pencil crayons. They are still one of my all-time favourite supplies, and I'm sure I'll be taking better care of my set of 60 now that I know how much harder it will be to find them in the future.
Do you remember using these pencil crayons? What other classic supplies from your childhood do you miss?