Sharpening, Acute and Obtuse

I’m not sure whether you’ve seen the cover of Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. On the cover is what looks like a Mongol with an incredibly acute point.

The angle of the pencil point seems to be 14°. I assume the image has not been stretched. Ok, the pencil looks as if it has been bitten specifically for the purpose of this photo. The eraser also looks as if it has been used up for the sake of using it up, uniform use with no trace of lead – but that point….

The pencil on the book cover next to a Venezuelan-made Mongol


14°… and it doesn’t look knife sharpened! Currently my list of sharpeners sorted by angle doesn’t have any sharpener that comes close to this. Unfortunately the book’s colophon doesn’t mention the photo on the cover. The UK edition states that the cover is designed by Yes, but there’s a good chance they just ‘rearranged’ the American cover and don’t have much to do with the pencil on the cover.

Any hint on what sharpener has been used to sharpen that pencil would be greatly appreciated.


I’d like to thank Sean because I got most of my Mongol pencils, like the one pictured, either through him or because he made me aware of where to get them. Thanks!