Over the years I’ve developed an appreciation for vintage things. The patina that only time and use gives to an object is something I look at and enjoy. I’m not sure exactly when the love of vintage took hold, perhaps it was when I realized that many of the new tools I purchased were not made as well as things I purchased as a kid, or perhaps it was simply an acquired affinity for the unique patina that only time can bestow. Regardless, I have been acquiring a few simply, low priced objects that are old, and I’ve begun to love. One of these object is the simple bullet pencil.
I purchased my first on eBay, but received it after I received my second purchased bullet pencil.* the first to arrive is a lovely restored chrome plated steel bearing the advertising info for “Collingwood Grain Company.” It’s a dusty blue color with bright chrome and a fresh eraser planted in it’s sturdy ferrule. Inside the old pencil has been replaced with a three inch nubbin of a Palomino Blackwing 602. It’s a lovely piece of American history, that I intend to cart around in my pocket.
The second to arrive is an aluminum barreled “Badger Fertilizer Company” pencil. It arrived unrestored and in need of a little work. the eraser was glazed over, and though I could have simply carved off the glazed exterior, or flipped it, I chose to remove it and use it as a pattern to carve a new eraser. I’ll do a different post about how to do that later. The body of the pencil is in good shape. I merely wiped it down with a damp cloth and the bright red-orange of the advertising was good to go. The aluminum needed no care. Inside I swapped out the dry and brittle pencil with a three inch chunk of regular orange Palomino in H.** The bright orange of the Palomino paint goes very well with the red orange of the Badger logo.
Why do I like these pencils so much? Well, there are times when a pen just won’t do, and in those cases when you look for a pencil, you can have one, in your pocket and ready to go in a moments notice. This low tech and simple solution to being able to carry a sharp pencil in your pocket works remarkably well. A testament to their effectiveness as a tool is shown through the fact that they were an advertising staple from the late 1800’s until about 1980. Their sturdiness is evinced by the fact that so many of them are still around in good condition.
While it is easy to refurbish one of these into a usable and cool tool, there are sellers who sell them already refurbished. This is the easier option. You can also refurbish them yourself. You can find lots of them pretty cheaply on eBay or if you go junking. I found some lots of dirty bullet pencils on etsy as well. Prices range from a buck a pencil to way more. Some of the vintage pencils go for a lot more money if they are of collectible brands. Myself, I looked for interesting colors. I like dusty blue and red-orange. You can also plug in any 3 inch chunk of any regularly sized pencil. I used a serrated knife to cut off a chunk of Palomino.*** (Don’t cry.)
Anyway, for those of you looking to flesh out an EDAJC**** this is a good way to carry a pencil in your pocket without stabbing yourself in the sensitive bits of your body. It’s compact, lightweight, and adaptable.
*You gotta love the USPS.
** the regular Palomino in H is about a B in most other pencil ranges. It’s very soft for an H pencil.
*** I could have cut any regularly sized pencil for this. I don’t use the palomino H very often but it’s perfect for the bullet pencil, since I won’t need to sharpen it as often when writing or sketching.
**** Every Day Art Journal Carry