National Pencil Day Date in the current year: March 30, 2022

National Pencil Day The unofficial National Pencil Day is celebrated annually on March 30 to commemorate the invention of a pencil with an attached eraser by Hymen Lipman in the mid-19th century. However, pencils have been around for much longer than that.

pencil is a writing or drawing utensil consisting of a solid pigment core encased in wood or some other material. The history of the modern pencil began in the 16th century, when a large deposit of graphite was discovered in Cumbria, England. The first pencils were graphite sticks wrapped in sheepskin or string, which gave soft graphite some stability. Wood encasement for pencils was invented by Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti, an Italian couple, around 1560.

For about a century, England had a monopoly on pencil production because it had the only known graphite deposit. The situation changed in 1662, when a method of manufacturing graphite sticks from a mixture of graphite powder, antimony, and sulfur was discovered in Germany. German pencils were of inferior quality compared to their English counterparts, but having any alternative is better than no alternative.

A new method of manufacturing an artificial graphite pencil was invented by Joseph Hardtmuth, an Austrian inventor and entrepreneur, in 1790. He mixed graphite powder with clay, making pencils more accessible to the general public. Hardtmuth’s stationery company, Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth, exists to this day. A similar method was invented independently by French painter and army officer Nicolas-Jacques Conté in 1795.

The first American wood pencils were made after the American Revolution. The process of making pencils by mixing graphite powder and clay was rediscovered here by philosopher Henry David Thoreau, whose father owned a pencil factory in Concord, Massachusetts. A pencil with an attached eraser was patented by Hymen Limpan on March 30, 1858. The anniversary of this patent is now unofficially celebrated as National Pencil Day.

To this day, graphite pencils made of a mixture of graphite and clay remain the most common type of pencil. Their color varies from light gray to black. Colored pencils, unlike graphite pencils, are based on wax or oil and contain pigments, binding agents, and a variety of additives. Other popular types of pencils include charcoal pencils, carbon pencils, grease pencils, and watercolor pencils.

Pencils are also classified by use (carpenter’s pencils, copying pencils, non-photo blue pencils, stenographer’s pencils, library pencils), by shape (triangular pencils, hexagonal pencils, round pencils, bendable pencils), by size, by casing material (wood, plastic paper), and by other aspects.

National Pencil Day has been observed since the 1970s, although it is unclear who came up with the idea of celebrating it. If you want to take part in the celebration, pick up some new pencils and put them to a good use: draw or doodle something, color a page or two in a coloring book, write something with a pencil instead of a pen... Or you can give a box of pencils to someone who needs them, be it your aspiring artist niece, student cousin, or a friend who prefers pencils over pens.

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Category

Unofficial Holidays

Country

USA

Tags

National Pencil Day, unofficial observances, holidays in the United States, history of the pencil, Hymen Limpan