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My collection is composed of ordinary wooden/graphite pencils. I don't collect mechanical, propelling, plastic or bullet pencils.

Altogether I have 3000, almost all of them bought new here in the UK, but some come from the US, Europe, South Africa, Australia and even Russia..

I am not very focused - I buy pretty well every pencil that I see, including souvenir, advertising, and promotional pencils, however I have given up with novelty pencils (pencils that just look pretty).

As well as many, many new pencils, the internet has enabled me to acquire a large number of old pencils - mainly by swaps. In the US it's also relatively common to find old pencils at fleas markets and the like - although not in the UK. The famous flea markets in the North of Paris are also a good source, if you are ever there.

How do I categorise my pencils? Here's some details

Sections

Place Names

Private Establishments

Events

Company Advertising

Childrens

Novelties

Sporting

Writing and Drawing

People

Campaigning

Highlights

Section 1: Place Names

The most straightforward section of the collection: souvenirs of places (countries, towns, regions). Notable because of its UK centred contents, although I now have many US pencils as well, as a result of swaps. I have never seen a souvenir pencil for a town or place on the the Continent

At least the pencils themselves show more variety than they used to. In the late 70s I went on holiday to Cornwall (SW England) and bought pencils in every town that were identical except for the overstamped name of the town. In recent years this is much less common, with most places tending to commission their own design, however trends are certainly evident with metallic rainbows having given way to natural wood finishes.


Section 2: Private Establishments

This section includes pencils from theme-parks, stately homes, museums, galleries and other visitable places. Amazing how many places produce them nowadays including Orlando International Airport, The English National Opera, Gold Reef City (South Africa), Cobweb Restaurant Stratford, even Redditch Baptist Church. At Alton Towers theme park there is a pencil for every ride. This section is growing nicely from pencil swaps, these sort of pencils are just as popular in the US as they are here in the UK


Section 3 : Events

The smallest section, but one of my favourites as the pencils are dated.

Highlights are the commemoration of the Coronation of Edward VIII (1934). If you are British you will know why this is interesting - he wasn't ever actually crowned, abdicating before the event. In fact it is probably not too rare a pencil - I know there was a lot of memoribilia produced in the pre-abdication run up - though I don't know how many pencils. Other royal pencils I have include Silver Jubilee (77) and Royal Wedding (81). And who will ever forget UK Museums Year (89). More recent acquisitions include a 1990 Census pencil from the US (don't tell the FBI) and several election pencils.


Section 4 : Company Advertising

A section which accumulates gradually. Trouble is, you can't buy company pencils - you need to visit the company and acquire one. Companies include Coopers and Lybrand, Boots, Bestobell Mowbray (who?), Deloitte and Touche, Macdonalds, Morgan Guaranty and many others.

I always enjoy slogans on pencils. I have several including "McDonalds makes your day", "Farley's Rusks for baby", "STOP FIRES Save Lives, Make every day Fire Safety Day", "All the way from Africa", "extinct is forever" (Body Shop)", "animals in danger", my only pencil in Latin "Quam Dilecta" (Guildford Cathedral) and even "May the Force be with you"


Section 5 : Children's themes

This section is not for any pencil designed to appeal to kids (most of those would fall into the novelty category) but for merchandised items - Babar, Winnie the Pooh, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony and so on. 10 years ago this section didn't exist, but now it booms. The only problem is that these pencils are often sold in multi-packs. Now I have children I am gradually using up the spares.


Section 6 : Novelty

Catch all section for all of the wierd and wonderful novelty pencils I possess. Including rectangular, triangular, square, heart shaped, star shaped and ellipitcal pencils, flexible pencils, twig pencils, fat, thin, long and short pencils and a bewildering array of colours, textures, dangly bits and even odours.

Visual jokes include: a cigarette pencil, the exact size and shape of a cigarette and a Refreshers pencil, which looks like a (thin) pack of refreshers


Section 7 : Sporting

New category I have started having received a whole load of these pencils from a collector in the US. So far this category is almost entirely US sports (NBA NFL etc) all made by Pentech. I am now waiting for UK manufacturers to cath on to this, and awaiting premier league pencils.


Section 8 : Writing and Drawing

The serious section if you like. So serious that I didn't bother buying ordinary pencils when I first started as a child. Now it is my fasted growing section as I put matters to rights. Manufacturers, old and new, (or at least brand names, it is difficult to know) include Berol (US, Mexico, UK), Cumberland, Eagle, Alpco Pencils, Swan, Geo Rowney, Staedtler (UK and Germany), Mirado, Faber Castell Caran d'ache, Stylerite, EJ Arnold, Venus, Harris Pencils and Empire

When I was in Moscow in 1995 I got hold of a few Russian pencils, with text in Cyrillic. I know nothing about them, the names could be brands or manufacturers, but they are interesting pencils to have.

At present my biggest source of these is from swaps with collectors in the US.


People

 I have a few pencils that commemorate people: Martin Luther King springs to mind, but there are about 20 or 30 others.


Campaigning

Pencils that campaign against drugs are popular, but also I have pencils that campaign for road safety, for awareness of stranger danger, for animal rights and some others. People always produce campaigning pencils for children, I've noticed


Highlights

Here's a few of the highlights of the collection

  • french pencils made with graphite from the Trempe and Alibert mine in Siberia

  • a left handed Mikado (the original name for Mirado)

  • a 1915 advert for Venus pencils - and a pencil as featured in the advert

  • boxes and tins from pre war

  • russian pencils with cyrillic script

  • pencils made in war-time german factories in Eastern Europe