Or, We’ll Need Pencils on Desert Islands, Right?
5. Dixon Ticonderoga Metallic Edition – The Ticonderoga made a big return to my life this year. For a long time following the discontinuation of my old standby, the Paper Mate American Natural, the black Ticonderoga was my go-to pencil. After discovering more about pencil variations, I’ve migrated away from the Ticonderoga because I’ve realized I have a proclivity for thicker pencils. My affinity Write Dudes’ USA Gold natural also likely helped dissuade me from purchasing Ticonderogae of any variety. Two small events helped change my mind, though. First, I noticed on Twitter that @originaLCHarper of Comfortable Shoes Studio fame had some unique Ticonderogae I hadn’t seen before. A week or so later, my wife purchased a pack of the aforementioned new Ticonderogae at our local Target, and we were both smitten immediately. I’m still not the biggest fan of the Ticonderoga line – it’s a little too faint for me – but I’ll admit two key points about it: 1) it’s rather consistent regardless of the type of paper you use, something that lamentably isn’t always the case when comparing pencil cores, and 2) the core holds up much better than many of its competitors. I still wish they were made in the United States.
4. Musgrave Test Scoring 100 – I greatly enjoy this pencil. It, like some other Musgrave products and Musgrave-made items such as the Golden Bear, is significantly thicker than the average pencil. Point retention can vary greatly depending on the type of paper, but the line is consistently dark, smooth, and clear. This pencil would rank nearer to the top of my list if the point held up a little bit more.
3. Mitsubishi 9800 2B – The 9800 will always have a fond place in my heart because it is one of the first premium pencils I purchased. I appreciate the incomparably dark line and the thick barrel (maybe a hair thicker than Musgrave, if at all). The 9800 might be the smoothest pencil I have used. Paired with somewhat glossy paper – a composition book, for instance – this pencil will convince you it is a smooth ballpoint pen.
2. Baron Fig Archer – The Archer is one of the more aesthetically pleasing pencils I’ve used. Along with the TS100, it is one of the few gray/silver pencils I have seen. The Archer’s barrel is a little thin for my taste, but its lightweight feel assured by its lack of ferrule/eraser makes it a very pleasant write. The fact that it was a Christmas gift also helps its standing on this list since I don’t need to do any dollar crunching value/cost analysis.
1. Blackwing 24 – The uncontested pencil champion in my humble opinion, the 24 is one of the few pencils that totally balances its aesthetics, construction, and line quality. I was nervous that I’d never see this core again, but thankfully Blackwing brought it back for the 530, a pencil I liked far more than I thought I would. The 24, though, is my idea of pencil perfection – a dark line from a point that excels in retention housed in a cedar barrel of exceptional quality lacquered to produce a comfortable glossy finish.