With mechanical pencils, it is all about two things, primarily, and neither is the actual graphite. First, it is about the mechanism. Without that it would not be a mechanical pencil. (My husband says I have a talent for stating the obvious.) Second, it is about the case, including the clip, if any, the trade name inscription, and the design, shape, and color (s) of the case or cylinder. When the makers of mechanical pencils came up with an innovation in mechanics, they patented it, but the colors and patterns of the celluloid seem to have been up for grabs. Pencil companies bought their case materials from manufacturers who sold the same celluloid to other companies as well. The first mechanical pencils had metallic cases, with the only decoration being patterns in the chasing --pretty subtle--so can you imagine the reaction when colored, patterned celluloid came along? This American News Company "Peerless" must have been an eye-popper!
Or how about this little green "marble" pencil, called "Peter Pan," by the Salz Company of New York?
On the other hand, if you like to sketch in pencil, the pencils are all about the type and quality of the graphite. My favorite sketching pencils don't even have a case or a mechanism--they're just sticks of pure graphite, with a little coating on the outside to keep your fingers from getting too black.
Since I like to sketch and I love mechanical pencils, it makes sense to me to hunt for lead that could work for both. I'm going to give a few of these vintage leads a try. I wonder if there was ever sepia-colored lead for pencils? Or even just plain brown? As you see, I did find a little red.
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