Top 10: My Favourite Pencils
“Life is short. Use the good China.”
Sometimes I think of Caran d’Ache as the Dior of pencils, and the Swiss Wood is the signature piece. With its deep wood colour and striking red cap, this pencil is undeniably stunning to look at. It has quite a unique smell—some describe it as earthy, others as chocolatey, brown sugar, nutmeg or cola. Most importantly, it is a joy to write with, boasting a slightly thicker barrel than most pencils and point retention that means it rarely requires sharpening.
*Note: This pencil has some inconsistencies in the graphite used between production runs. Some batch numbers feature a darker line, others lighter. There are also small differences in the smoothness of the graphite between batch numbers. As someone who prefers a dark line, the #1 position is for the smooth dark writer.
Told you I’m a sucker for anything Japanese! This one makes the #3 position for several reasons. First, the colour. It’s a beautiful green with gold embossing proclaiming the pencil is ‘Made By Elaborate Process’. Second reason is the graphite. It’s smooth like the 9850 above, but it has a little resistance which makes it very enjoyable to write with. Third reason is the weight. It’s very light. Without any ferrule or eraser this pencil feels agile and ready to go.
I never use erasers on the end of pencils. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I don’t want to dirty such a beautiful object. The Genius pencil from Caran d’Ache gives me a stylus on the end of the pencil instead of an eraser, which means I can use it on any touchscreen device or trackpad. It’s actually really quite handy. The Genius also has my favourite graphite, dark with the best point retention I’ve seen in a pencil. I can write pages and not need to sharpen.
The lightest of the pencils on the list. This pencil looks and feels expensive. The F grade is a touch on the harder side, giving it great point retention. With 10 billion particles per square millimetre, you’re getting a lot of high-quality graphite!
The natural finish, black imprint, black ferrule and black eraser of this pencil is just beautifully done. They’re not perfectly lacquered or completely uniform, each has a bit of character. They’re very smooth pencils to write with and come from one of the last remaining pencil factories in the USA.
This pencil is a cheap and cheerful little gem. With a rather scratchy quality to the graphite, there’s something reassuring about the resistance and noise when writing. I find I can write for long periods with this pencil, and my writing doesn’t get sloppy.