Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Pencil Collection, Part 1: Canadian-Made Pencils

My wooden pencil collection has grown a lot since I first wrote about it in 2013.  I now own too many pencils to include them all in one blog post, so I'm going to split my collection up into a series of posts.

This installment of the series will feature the heart of my collection, pencils made in Canada - although, as I discovered in the research for this post, most of these pencils, despite being made in Canada, were in fact made by American companies.  And most of these pencils were also made in the United States and other countries as well.


Top to bottom: Eagle Turquoise 3H drawing pencils (2 versions); Eagle Verithin 734 White (the reverse side reads "specially adapted for marking blueprints"); Eagle Verithin 745 Carmine Red; Eagle Canadiana 521 Black; Eagle Mirado - 174 B.

The Eagle Pencil Company was founded in 1856 in New York City, and in 1931 it opened a Canadian factory in Drummondville, Quebec (this page has more information (in French) about the Drummondville factory).  The cedar used to make the pencils was imported.  The Eagle logo changed over the years, and in my collection, you can see two different versions of it: a stylized eagle and a large letter E.

The Eagle Turquoise was a drawing pencil, available in a wide selection of grades.  I have two versions of this pencil (older and newer), but oddly, both are 3H!  On the reverse side, both are marked "'Electronic' Lead" and the second pencil is also marked "Super Bonded" and "Patented 1951."  The first has an unfinished end; the second, a metal cap.

The Eagle Verithin pencils were coloured pencils; I have two versions, white and carmine red.  Both are marked "Flexible Lead" and "Patented 1936" on the reverse side.  The white has an unfinished end; the red, an eraser with a red-striped ferrule.

The Eagle Canadiana was also a coloured pencil.  This pencil is different from all of the other pencils in this post in that it is round rather than hexagonal.  It has a white space on the reverse side for you to write your name (which reminds me of Laurentien coloured pencils, which also have such a space.)  The end of the pencil is unfinished.

The Eagle Mirado was originally named the Mikado (Japanese for "Emperor"), but was renamed in World War II.  (This page has a brief history of the Mirado.)



Top to bottom: Berol Verithin 752 (the name of the colour is not marked on the pencil, but it's some shade of purple); Berol Mirado 174 HB; Berol Grand Prix 228 HB.

In 1969, the Eagle Pencil Company became the Berol Corporation (Berol is a shortened form of the founding family's name Berolzheimer).  Berol in turn was purchased by the Empire Pencil Corporation in 1986, and by Sanford (a division of Newell Rubbermaid) in 1995.

The Berol Verithin and Berol Mirado are both versions of the Eagle pencils discussed above.  The Berol versions are of course newer than the Eagle versions, and I think that their graphics and text are more boring than those on the older pencils.

The Berol Grand Prix is a pencil that I have been unable to find elsewhere online.  I think it's an attractive pencil, however, as it's a light turquoise colour with the ferrule painted to match.


Top to bottom: Venus Velvet 6557 HB Medium Soft; Venus "Col-Erase" 116 Red; Venus Patria 6351 H.

Venus was originally a brand name of pencils made by the American Lead Pencil Company, which was founded in 1861.  In 1956, the American Lead Pencil Company became the Venus Pen and Pencil Corporation, and Venus was bought by Faber-Castell in 1973.

The Venus Velvet was a drawing pencil that came in a variety of grades, while the Venus "Col-Erase" was a coloured pencil.  Mine is red, and I find it interesting how its ferrule has two blue bands rather than just one, as the Velvet has.

I was unable to find any information about the Venus Patria.


Other Brands

Top to bottom: Dixon Chancellor 2180 B; Dixon Ticonderoga 1386 HB; Eberhard Faber Mongol 948 Light Green; Willson Mark IV F2 2/4.

Dixon is another American company (founded 1827 in Salem, Massachusetts).  I especially like the Dixon Chancellor because it is labelled as being made with "Canadian graphite" (as well as being "made in Canada").  The Dixon Ticonderoga is likely familiar to most readers; it's a classic American pencil, but I found it interesting that some Ticonderogas were made in Canada as well.

John Eberhard Faber was born in Germany and opened the Eberhard Faber pencil factory in New York City in 1861.  (Which is not to be confused with Faber-Castell, founded in Germany in 1761 by Kaspar Faber.)  Eberhard Faber is now owned by Sanford.  The Eberhard Faber Mongol was available as both a drawing pencil and as a coloured pencil.  Mine is a coloured version (with a neat metal cap on the end) in light green.

Finally, we have what might be the first genuinely Canadian pencil in my collection of Canadian-made pencils.  I have been unable to find any information about the Willson Mark IV, but I was able to discover that the name "Mark IV" was registered as a trademark by the Willson Stationery Company (of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) in 1964, and that the Willson Stationery Company was founded in 1900 by Harry L. Willson (this page has a very brief biography of him) in Winnipeg.  I would love to learn more about the company and its pencils.

If you would like to learn more about the diversity of wooden pencils, I recommend that you check out Bob Trudy's amazing Brand Name Pencils site.  You can find nearly all of the pencils I mentioned here on that website, and see other versions of them (or just browse all of the 175 pencil brands included on the site...).
I am far from an expert on pencils, but I enjoyed learning more about them while writing this post.  If you have any additions or corrections to what I've written here, please let me know in the comments.  And stay tuned for the next installment on American-made pencils!

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