Tag Archives: made in USA

Review: Musgrave Tennessee Red Pencils

Musgrave recently went through an upgrade to their web presence and added a few new pencils to their line up. One of these is the Tennessee Red. This upgrade included an upgraded website, and web presence in general. They hired a great marketing team to do this work for them, and really it has brought the formerly dated site and presence into a modern era, and even made their website usable! I’m happy to see a venerable American pencil brand embrace the future and make their products available for more people.

Let’s talk about the Tennessee Red pencil. First, the presentation. WOW. Old Musgrave packaging consisted of a thin plastic bag that is heat sealed shut, one clear side and one white side. It looked and felt, well cheap. The packaging for the Tennessee Red is lovely. It’s a sliding cardboard box that protects the pencils from banging about in shipping and looks stunning. The bright cherry red with white lettering is an immediate classic and eye catching. I love the sliding box and how it feels both retro and modern at the same time. Retro in that pencil packaging once looked like this and modern in that we haven’t seen anything like this on the market in a long time. Sure Blackwing used cleave for the Volumes but this is so simple and effective I can’t help but to enjoy everything about this packaging.

Nestled in the box are a dozen lightly but glossy lacquered natural pencils. I wish they were raw wood, but I can’t win every time. Even with the light lacquer you can smell the cedar as soon as you open the package. Once sharpened my whole office smelled of cedar. Amazing. The red imprint is perfect and sharp and has historic calls out with the little 3 star Tennessee logo and the new Musgrave logo. A golden ferrule holding a crisp white eraser completes the look. An added bonus is that the eraser? It works. Which has been a point of steady complaint over the years. They work well too.

Musgrave has stepped up their pencil game.

The cedar is red cedar and delightfully fragrant. It reminds me of the slats of cedar you can buy for your closet to deter moths. It is a tad dense and my duller sharpeners seemed to struggle with it but my classroom friendly and Apsara hacked did really well. I immediately sharpened 4 of them. The hex is a traditional Musgrave sharp, and I really do wish they’d gone with a soft hex, because I don’t love a sharp hex but there is so much to love about this pencil.

I suppose a review of these can’t be made without mentioning the centered-ness of the cores. There are a few off center cores, only one or two of mine were badly off center. The rest were fine and in what I would think of as well within usability limits. More on this point in a minute. Let’s talk about that delicious core. It’s dark. It’s smooth. With my long point sharpeners it’s perfect. It’s also great for sketching. I’d say this is a good multi use pencil, you can get some decent gradation out of it and as such wouldn’t need to carry a full pencil case for writing or sketching.

I love everything about these pencils, their imperfections in wood and centered-ness mean that I don’t feel precious with them. I want to sharpen them up. At $9 a dozen they aren’t cheap but they aren’t $30 a box either. I don’t feel guilt in chewing through these. These are pencil lover’s pencils not pencils for collectors. I mean sure go ahead and buy some for your collection too, but buy a pack to use as well. The silky smooth graphite cased in fragrant cedar brings back pleasant childhood memories of back to school shopping and school. That Musgrave went with a usable eraser (though I rarely use the erasers on my pencils) is an added bonus. The red imprint paired with the gold ferule and white eraser with that luscious pink tan wood is pencil perfection. Sure they need to work on core centered-ness, but I for one will support Musgrave with another purchase (or two) of these pencils.

I’m late to reviewing these. Check out Johnny’s review here and Anna’s here and Deon’s here.

Again this review is brought to you by supporters and readers of this blog who have headed to my Ko-Fi page and supported me one or two coffees at a time. The money gifted through coffee is used for some coffee but mostly buying more pens and pencils and stationery supplies to review. I appreciate each and every coffee purchased and gifted to me. I have the best readers!

Review: USA Gold Natural HB pencil

USA Gold is an interesting brand. Virtually ubiquitous, you can find these in Target, Walmart, CVS, and even the local Stop ‘n Slop. You can also order them via Amazon and a variety of other online retailers. Comrade Johnny over on Pencil Revolution might put these into the category of semi-cheap, but I’m comfortable going a step further and calling them cheap. They average around $2 for a 12 pack, putting them at 16 cents or so per pencil. Compared to higher end pencils, that’s cheap. Of course, you could compare them to the average Staples brand pencil which are about 2 cents per pencil and they seem expensive. Those 14 cents make a huge difference in performance.USAGOLD

The USA Gold, in any form (natural, yellow, or one of their fancy paint jobs), features a decent HB core. It is smooth and nicely dark for an HB. Of course it doesn’t compare to the previously reviewed MB9000, but that’s comparing apples to oranges. Comparing it to a General’s Cedar Pointe #2/HB is fair game, and in my book the USA Gold comes out on top. The core of the USA Gold is much more consistent. I haven’t had a bit of grit in any of the USA Gold pencils I’ve chewed up. These cheapies perform. Further, the blue foil imprint on the USA Gold is awesome. The blue stripe on the ferrule is awesome too. The only place where they vary is in the thinly applied lacquer. On some of the pencils I’ve purchased, this coating is so thin that the pencil feels raw, on the most recent pack I picked up it’s thicker and more noticeable. I much prefer the thin coat.USAGOLD

For those of us pencil fanatics, who like their stuff local, one of the great things about the USA Gold is that it is still made in America. I tweeted at WriteDudesUSA, a subsect of RoseArts, to find out a little more about the pencils and to confirm that they were made in the US. They are made in Lewisburg, Tennessee* at a facility owned and operated by RoseArts. ‘MuricaUSAGOLD USAGOLD

If you are looking for a fantastic pencil at a fantastic price, you can’t beat a USA Gold- on price or performance.

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Review: Clips for Pens and Pencils

When I was a kid my grandparents had a pen and pencil cup near their phone in the kitchen. This cup held an assortment of pens and pencils they had accumulated over the years. Some had come from their work places and others as freebies from companies they had done business with. Later as they traveled on their vacations to state fairs outside our area and state the cup began to acquire new never-before-seen exotic writing utensils. One of these I remember clearly was a pencil with a clip. I don’t remember anything but the clip. I remember thinking, “Duh, that makes soooo much sense! I’ve got a clip on my pen, why not on a pencil.” Then the pencil with a clip disappeared* and while I often thought it would be cool to have a clip on my pencil, I never gave it much thought after that. Well until I checked out PencilThings.com.pencil clips pencil clipsPencilThings has an assortment of of clips that you can add to pencils. The clips I ordered remind me of old school pen clips. It’s a really simple design where the clip is springy and attaches to a band that wraps around the pencil. I found that all of my clips were a little loose on my pencils but a little gentle coaxing with a pair of pliers made them fit super snug. This squishing of the clip also served to make the actual clip more springy  and have a tighter clip onto whatever I clip the pencil to.pencil clips pencil clipsThe clips are made of spring steel. According to PencilThings they are made in the US. They aren’t exactly the best example of US manufacturing, as they are quite cheaply made. Given that they retail for about 50 cents each, this isn’t surprising.  I’ve only had them for a few weeks at this point and can’t really say anything about their durability, but they seem to clip snugly to the cover of my planner and my notebook. So far I’m very happy with them.pencil clips pencil clipsPriced at $6 for 12 or $3.25 for 6 they aren’t a bad buy. When Shipping is factored into the cost I think they are around 75 cents each. Which isn’t bad and pretty cheap considering they are reusable. Continue reading