Monday, July 23, 2007

How Long Is Your Pencil?

Here’s a bit of a novelty.

The body is nickel or chrome plated, 7mm square in section. I think its my only square pencil, but not totally sure on that. It’s a bit of an oldie and in average condition - there is some corrosion to the plating, etc. I imagine it dates from sometime around the 1930’s. There are no makers marks or brands other than the word “GERMANY” stamped into the body by the pocket clip. The tip is a cone, and it’s a simple twist mechanism to advance the lead. There is a big long cut up the conical tip, nearly splitting it in two, and the two halves are slightly sprung and thus grip the lead. The lead is blue.

Well that’s all unusual enough, but there’s more. One side of the square body is marked as a ruler, in centimetres and millimetres, 10cm long in total. The opposite side is also marked as a ruler, but this time its imperial, so 4 inches in 1/16th divisions.
But wait there’s more.

Yes indeed, it’s a telescopic body, extending out to a marked 25cm on the metric ruler, or 9 and ¾ inches on the imperial ruler scale. Seems a bit crazy to me they didn’t go all the way and make it 30cm or a foot long.


jgodsey said...


Anonymous said...

Sorry if this is somewhat OT, but I figured you're the go-to person when it comes to mechanical pencils :)

I'm wondering what is the *smallest* available mechanical pencil out there? By available, I mean it can be bought online (I'm in the U.S.), and at a reasonable price (no more than $30 U.S.).

Basically, I'd like to carry a pencil in my pocket at all times, but I want to feel it as little as possible. I don't intend to use it for lengthy writing (just brief jottings), so comfort is not paramount. Something retractable would be good (so it won't stab me inadvertantly, while carried in my pocket). And perhaps the lead size could be 0.5 for easy availability.

Thanks in advance!


P.S. Yes, I did search the site using "mini", "smallest", "shortest" alas, to no avail.

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Ron
Actually this is probably THE most common question I get asked, and i don't have a good answer. I don't really have many mini-pencils. having said that, these questions make me feel inadequate so i have started to do something about educating myself, but it will be a while before I burst into print.

I use a Lamy Scribble, but its not that pocket safe, and its "fat". There is also the Pilot Birdie as a slim short one. I suggest you try and also read their PENCYCLOPEDIA pencil guide.

Anonymous said...

The smallest mechanical pencil I have seen is the Zebra T3 Mini Mechanical Pencil with a length of about 99 mm, 12 mm shorter than the Birdie. The sleeves of both are short (1.5 mm) but not retractable. - Most of the Birdie's length is tube so maybe it can be made shorter.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, thanks guys for your comments. I was aware of the Zebra T3 (in fact I emailed Zebra wrt. the T3, they told me this product has been discontinued, though I found it online anyhow at The Pilot Birdie is recommended by to which Dave directed me. I've looked around, but frankly, I gotta say, this market niche is poorly served... perhaps there is not enough demand though, considering Zebra decided to back out of it. I'm surprised though... I know I'm not the only person interested in a pencil one can carry at all times for very shot notes, and which would be as small as possible. One frustrating thing is that most of the sites selling pencils don't bother providing dimensions (even Zebra's site), so that's a vital piece of spec that is not given, and how am I supposed to make a decision when I don't have the most basic info?

Anyhow, thank you Dave for looking into this. This site is extremely inspirational.... I've "wasted" hours and hours reading here :)

Anonymous said...

Now, I haven't ever seen one of these in person so YMMV but there is the Retro 51 Elite. The pen is listed as 3 3/8" (85mm) long and the pencil looks a touch longer with the eraser (probably 3 1/2"). It looks about 1/3" thick (8 mm). It has an exposed eraser (not my first choice) and it uses 1.1 mm lead which gives it a tip that is pretty much pocket safe.

I'm not so crazy about the clip but it might be possible to remove it for an even slimmer pencil.

Now I use Yard-O-Led pencils all of the time and 1.1 mm lead is about the same thickness as lead found in wood pencils and they can last a really long time. I generally have no problems getting thin or thick lines and you deserve grief if you can break 1.1 mm lead frequently.

Obviously, Retro 51 and Yard-O-Led sell this lead diameter but so does Scripto and there are plenty of vintage leads of this diameter on the net including coloured ones!

List price is $17 and most places on the net sell them for a little less.

Chris said...

I have a similar pencil that has inch markings. It is stamped Sterling and has a name stamped "Pen-non Penciloy" or something similar, it is hard to make out.