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A smallish number of manufactures dominate the industry in the UK - and indeed all over the world. All these are global firms. Here's a list of the pencils most commonly found in UK High Streets and stationers: .


Based in King's Lynn, they are part of the world-wide Sanford Corporation, and are one of the UK's top manufacturers. The two common pencils are also world famous


A world famous pencil. Originally called the Mikado, it's name was changed in the US at the outbreak of WW2. It's US-Yellow, hexagonal, and the ones on sale here are commonly made in the UK or Mexico. A standard writing pencil in a range of grades with or (more commonly) without eraser. Variations of this pencil on sale here include some branded Eagle Mirado, or Mirado Classic


Another world-famous pencil, in its familiar cracked-green varnish. Variations of this pencil have in the past appeared under Eagle, Venus, Berol, American Pencil Co and Eberhard Faber brand names. The model on sale in the UK is probably the best selling premium pencil (about 65p each). In the UK these pencils bear the Royal By Appointment warrant  - i.e. as supplied to the queen.


Based in Keswick, these are perhaps Britain's most famous pencil makers. Keswick is the site of the original graphite mine, from which for over 200 years all the world's graphite was mined. Cumberland have inherited the historical mantle of the UK pencil industry. Reflecting this the Cumberland factory is the site of the world's only pencil museum.
Pencils are branded Cumberland; Rexel; Rexel Cumberland and Derwent. They make a range of models including

British Drawing

Blue varnish, the standard pencil

Five Star

superior pencil: Maroon with an ochre hood

Office Pencils

natural unvarnished wood


The UK arm of the famous German firm is (according to their literature) the largest pencil maker in the UK. The history of the firm goes back to 1662. Many models are sold in the UK from time to time, but their best known models are


Red/ Black striped pencil sold in a range of grades


Noris is a widely used model name for Staedtler. The pencils sold here under that name have Yellow/Black stripes and are distinguished by the fact that each grade (only 6 grades) has a different coloured hood. A colourful model


 Fine quality pink coloured pencil with a red hood.

WH Smith

Not strictly a manufacturer, but a High Street stationer, they supply many models of pencil all unchanged over many years. All branded with their own name, made in the UK and available in a range of grades


Purple with black hood


Red with white collar

Are you a pencil manufacturer?

If you represent, or work for, a pencil manufacturer then I would be very interested in any information you could send me. In particular:

  • what brands your company controls

  • historical information on you company

  • what countries you manufacture in

  • enlightenment on left handed pencils

  • a copy of your catalogue and (if you sell retail, mail order) a price list

Thanks in advance for any material. All respondees will be enthusiastically plugged on these pages