History of the Pencil

Timeline created by amundel
  • Jan 1, 1500

    Earliest "pencils"

    Prior to the mid-1500s, "pencils" were small paintbrushes (made of camel hair) or styluses (thin metal sticks).
  • Jan 1, 1530

    Discovery of graphite

    Discovery of graphite
    In the first half of the 1500s, a large deposit of graphite was found in Cubmria, England. This graphite was used for a number of purposes, including for writing. Because graphite is soft, the first graphite "pencils" were wrapped in string or sheepskin for stability. (Note: Graphite was thought to be a form of lead. Though graphite does not contain the element lead, pencils' centers are still referred to as "lead.")
  • Jan 1, 1560

    First "Blue-print" of Modern Day Wooden Pencil

    First "Blue-print" of Modern Day Wooden Pencil
    Italians Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti created a flat pencil by hollowing out a piece of juniper wood and inserting graphite.
  • Sep 15, 1560

    Fine-tuning of Pencil Casing Technique

    Building on the Bernacotti's pencil-making technique, an unnamed inventor discovered that it was more effective to carve two wooden halves, insert a graphite stick, and glue the halves together. This is the approach to pencil making used today.
  • First Mass-produced Pencils

    First Mass-produced Pencils
    The first mass-produced pencils were created in Nuremberg, Germany.
  • Discovery of Effective Method to Make Pencil Cores

    An Austrian (Joseph Hardmuth) and a Frenchmand (Nicholas Jacques Conte) perfected a way of making graphite rods of varying hardness. This involved mixing powdered graphite with clay, shaping the mixture into rods, and firing these rods in a kiln. This is how pencil cores are made to this day.
  • Invention of Mechanical Pencil

    Although versions of mechanical pencils existed earlier, a mechanical pencil discovered aboard the sunken HMS Pandora is believed to be the first "true" mechanical pencil.
  • First American Wood Pencil

    William Munroe of Massachusetts made the first wood pencils in the USA.
  • Mechanical Pencil Patented

    Mechanical Pencil Patented
    The first patent for a refillable mechanical pencil was granted.
  • Beginning of Automation of American Pencil Manufacture

    Ebenezer Wood used a circular saw to make both hexagonal and octagonal wooden pencils. He shared his invention widely (did not patent it), including with Eberhard Faber who became a leader in American pencil production.
  • Erasers First Attached to Pencils

    Erasers First Attached to Pencils
    Hymen Lipman attached an eraser to the end of a pencil, an invention which he patented.
  • Invention of American Mass-Produced Pencils

    Joseph Dixon discovered a way of mass-producing pencils in the USA.
  • First Yellow Pencils Appear

    First Yellow Pencils Appear
    The L & C Hardmuth Company of Austro-Hunfary introduced the first yellow pencil intented to be the "world's best and most expensive pencil" (Wikipedia, 2014). At the time, most pencils were dark colors or unpainted.The yellow pencil has become commonplace in many parts of the world.
  • First Use of Incense Cedar in Pencil Manufacture

    First Use of Incense Cedar in Pencil Manufacture
    Incense cedar was found to be an available and effective wood for wood-casings of pencils. Incense cedar is now the most common form of wood used in pencil manufacturing.
  • First Plastic Pencils

    Harold Grossman of the Empire Pencil Company invented the first plastic pencil or "EPCON" pencil. This pencil has a plasticized graphite mix inside a wood-composite core.
  • Invention of Stackable Pencils

    Invention of Stackable Pencils
    The first stackable pencils were invented by the Taiwanese Bensia Pioneer Industrial Corporation.