Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pencil Versus Pen

As a new pencil collector I can't help but notice a certain attitude in the collecting world that pencils are a lesser collectible than fountain pens.  It's almost as extreme as antique German dolls versus antique French dolls.  Okay, I grant you that the pen is mightier than the sword, but is it really mightier than the pencil?

There are some issues to explore, and I think the main issue is permanence.
  • pencil writing is erasable; pen writing is not
  • pencil writing indicates you can change your mind; pen writing shows your ideas are immutable
  • pencil writing is temporary; pen writing is permanent--kind of like renting versus owning
  • pencil writing is for first drafts; pen writing is for final copy

Another issue is who uses pencils versus who uses pens in their occupations: pencil users are architects, builders, engineers, editors, teachers, journalists, novelists, poets, artists, and students while pen users are bankers, lawyers, judges, executives, presidents, administrators, doctors, law-makers, celebrities, and others who sign things in ink.

Maybe pencil users are more flexible, while pen users never waver; maybe pencil users can accept mistakes and change more readily, while pen users think carefully before they act.  Could it be as simple as right brain versus left brain?  Not really, because the truth is that most people need both sides of their brain, and most people need pencils and pens, to do what they do in the world.  Rather than the great divide, a total separation, it's really a marriage of two different but equally necessary writing instruments.  

Maybe that's why pen and pencil sets were so universally popular.  Like my Sheaffer Triumph Crest set (see my blog "They Were Always Together" ).

But don't try to tell me that this Waterman # 3 fountain pen is somehow better or finer than my new Waterman Thorobred pencil.

Thanks to Peyton Street Pens for their image.