Surrender 90: Pencil Day

On this day, in 1858, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent for a wooden pencil with an eraser attached to the end. The inventor was Hymen Lipman, who was praised for his creation. 


The first pencils were painted yellow. This color signified royalty and honor. People found the new pencil easy to use for writing and drawing.  
A single pencil can write 45,000 words or draw a line that is 35 miles long. It can also write under water, upside down, or in zero gravity. 

My fondest memory associated with pencils is returning to school in the fall, with brand new, freshly sharpened #2 pencils. What potential those pencils represented, what creative promise. 

Now I prefer to do my creative writing on my laptop. And although I would have a difficult time this evening locating a wooden pencil in my house to write with, I do have an assortment of sketching and colored pencils! 

Colored pencils are a more recent invention, especially artist grade pencils. Not until the early 20th century were artist-quality colored pencils produced. Manufacturers that began producing artist-grade colored pencils included Faber-Castell in 1908 and Caran d’Ache in 1924, followed by Berol Prismacolor in 1938.

Rather than a graphite core, colored pencils have a wax or oil based core. The recent adult coloring craze has greatly increased sales for colored pencils. During the Christmas season, I had difficulty locating any packages of colored pencils, so great was demand. 


I’m grateful for the humble yellow graphite pencil that sparked my creativity for years. I did my creative writing well into my twenties with a pencil and a notebook. I think it’s time to purchase a package of new, freshly sharpened pencils to keep in my studio, to remind me of my roots and offer inspiration. 

And I’m grateful for sketching pencils and the wildly popular colored pencils that continue to feed and develop my artistic side. I still treasure my Crayola brand pencils and I’ve expanded into more expensive sets, including Prismacolor and Staedtler. 

I have a new Doctor Who coloring book that I’m excited to delve into. I’m gathering up my pencils, on Pencil Day, for an adventure in Time and Space!