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Why Pencils Are Way Better Than Pens

Count Wolfgang, head of a huge pencil company, explains why pencils are wonderful

Image: Dvortygirl

Remember how important the No. 2 pencil was during school? Without it, you would never graduate, go to college or amount to anything. Well, at least anything measurable by a scantron machine.

Meet Count Anton Wolfgang, the man who runs the Kaspar-Faber pencil company. Kaspar-Faber sells about two billion pencils every year—from the standard test-taking kind to every color you can imagine. The Wall Street Journal spoke with Count Wolfgang about pencils, asking him everything from his favorite, to what the deal is with triangular pencils. Here’s what he had to say.

On the perfect point:

It starts with good graphite that doesn’t crumble. Then you have to match the size of the pencil to the right-size hole. A cheap sharpener can eat an expensive pencil. Our Grip Trio Sharpener, which sells for about $6, has three holes so whatever size you’re using, you have the right one.

On the eventual extinction of the pencil:

May I ask you a question? Have you ever seen a paperless office? People may not be writing things out on legal pads but they like to print out email and make notations. Then pencils and pens disappear and you go grab another. People think they’re allowed to steal pencils. I don’t know if they are allowed but they do it.

On why pencils are way better than pens:

When you are young, you put a pencil in a drawer. Then when you get to be very, very old, 100, and you want to give something of yours to your great, great grandchild, you pull that pencil out and it still writes. Can a pen do that?

Although the first pencil factory that opened in 1832 in Cumberland, England, pencils have been around in some form for centuries. Pencil companies say the demand for the tool is only growing. And if you don’t remember the importance of No. 2 pencils, Clone High will bring you back:

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Story of Laszlo Biro, the Man Who Invented the Ballpoint Pen

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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