Lead Pencil Facts – Did You Know?

vellur By vellur, 24th Dec 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Education

Lead pencils are not made of lead. They are made of a non-toxic material called graphite.
This article is all about how the lead pencils came into existence.

History of Lead Pencils

The name lead pencils came into existence due to the similarity between pencils and the stylus made of lead that Romans used to write with.

The idea of the pencil originated from the ancient Romans. The ancient Romans used an object that resembled a stylus to make marks on the papyrus leaves.

Graphite was first discovered in Europe in Bavaria at the beginning of the fifteenth century. It was initially thought to be “Plumbago” or black lead.

The name “Graphite” came into existence in 1789 from the Greek word “graphene” meaning “to write”.

The word “pencil” is derived from the Latin word “pencils” meaning a little tail that was used to describe the small ink brushes used for writing purposes in the Middle Ages.

Graphite became popular because this mineral left very dark impressions on the paper. The drawback of graphite was that it was very soft, brittle and crumbled into a powder very easily.

Initially graphite sticks were bundled together to write but, later on, the graphite sticks was inserted into wooden casings that were hollowed out.

In the year 1795 Nicholas-Jacques Conte, who was a scientist serving in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte, made lead sticks by mixing graphite and clay and baked them in a furnace to make them harder. These lead sticks were then inserted into wooden cases.

Production of Lead Pencils

The first large-scale production of pencils began in 1662 in Nuremberg, Germany by Faber Castell, Lyra, Steadler .

In the US wooden pencils were first produced by William Munroe in 1812. The pencils that he made were plain dried graphite paste and were not inserted into a wooden casing. Following this many pencil makers came into the market – William Munroe, John Thoreau, Joseph Dixon and Benjamin Bell.

The manufacture of pencils went into large scale production after the end of the US Civil War, and many pencil factories were set up in New York and New Jersey.

Pencils have been painted yellow since the 1890s. China produced the best graphite in 1800; America used this graphite to make pencils. To show that the pencils had the very best Chinese Graphite, the Americans painted their pencils yellow in colour. (In China the yellow color is associated with royalty and respect).

Nowadays pencils are made out of graphite with varying thickness.

More Facts about Lead Pencils

Color pencil leads are made from a mixture of graphite, clay, wax and a color pigment.

Watercolor pencils have the added feature of being washable with water. When these pencils are used to shade, they look as though they are painted with water colors.

Pastel pencils are another type of pencils. When these pencils are used to shade, the shaded areas look as though they are colored with chalk.

Charcoal pencils that are used mostly by artists are made from a different form of graphene that makes very dark impressions on paper.

Cosmetic pencils are colored leads that are skin-friendly and are used to make lip liners and eye liners.



Image Credits - freepik.com, pencils.com

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Education, Facts, Facts About Lead Pencils, News, Pencils

Meet the author

author avatar vellur
Hi!! My name is Mrs. Nithya Venkat. Writing is my passion, nature my inspiration. I write about topics that interest me.

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author avatar vellur
24th Dec 2015 (#)

johnnydod thank you.

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
25th Dec 2015 (#)

This was a very informative article. I notice that the father of Henry David Thoreau was mentioned as a pencil manufacturer. Thoreau worked for his father for a time.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Dec 2015 (#)

Thanks Vellur fort his informative post; we are lucky to have high quality writing instruments but we are not using them much nowadays - siva

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author avatar SaigonDeManila
26th Dec 2015 (#)

Great teivia here...i remember though that on my drawing 101 those 20 shades can be duplicated using only one grade of thickness as part of artist controlling the tone.

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author avatar vellur
7th Jan 2016 (#)

LR Laverde-Hansen thank you.

Siva thank you and yes we are lucky.

SaigonDeManila thank you and that must have been tough.

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author avatar Helen Thomas
14th Jan 2016 (#)

This is a very interesting and informative article ~ Vellur. Thanks for sharing.


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author avatar vellur
24th Jan 2016 (#)

Helen Thomas thank you.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
26th Jan 2016 (#)

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
28th Jan 2016 (#)

i dont think this site is going off the air dear vellur...it has just been cleaned up and i think is better than ever

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author avatar vellur
30th Jan 2016 (#)

cnwriter carolina thank you and will check out the link. I do hope Wikinut comes back with a bang to awe the world!

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