BBC


Vote for Pencil! 2

You might remember the blog post from April where I mentioned the paper episode in the BBC’s 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy series.

Well, now is your chance to support the humble pencil by voting for it as the 51st thing that made the modern economy.

You can vote on this BBC page (link).

Other contenders are the credit card, glass, GPS, Irrigation and Spreadsheets.


Pencils – unsharpened and hyper acute

When looking at pencil points there are all sorts of angles you could sharpen a pencil to.

I guess an angle of 180°, i.e. an unsharpened pencil is as low as you could go – unless you want an angle > 180°.

Here’s a photo of an unsharpened pencil, seen in Season 10 of Inspector Montalbano (Il commissario Montalbano), between the two eraser-tipped Noris pencils. You can see his other pencils in this blog post from 2012. Where they got an unsharpened Noris from is a mystery to me. Maybe they removed the pencil point of a factory sharpened pencil?

Episode: A Delicate Matter (Image © RAI)

On the other hand you have pencil like the ones from Pencil Guide that seem to have an angle of 6.8°1 (for comparison: the KUM Masterpiece has an angle of 15°). They look deadly.

Gunther explains:

If you create a point with an angle of 6.8° (cone angle 3.4°) on a pencil with a diameter of 8 mm you expose the wood at a length of approximately 67.6 mm. This length and the pencil’s length are in a ratio of approx. 1:1.618.

1:1.618 is the golden ration.

Pencil Guide calls itself a pencil sharpening service company, but they only sell sharpened pencils and don’t follow David Rees’ business model.

(Image © Pencilguide.com)


I would like to thank Jun-Haeng Lee for the information about Pencil Guide.

The images in this blog post have been taken from Pencil Guide and from episode A Delicate Matter of the RAI TV series Il commissario Montalbano. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Thanks to Sola and Gunther I now think the angle might be 6.8°. []

Worst pencil museum / Postcards / Pencil+ 3

There are a few small things I want to mention that all didn’t make it into their own blog posts.

Pencil Museum

Last Sunday Sue Perkins was asking BBC Radio 2 listeners about their worst Sunday activities and gave visiting a pencil museum as an example ? (about 7 minutes into recording I linked to). Well, I enjoyed my visit to the pencil museum very much …and I guess the listeners, too, as none of them mentioned visiting the pencil museum as their worst Sunday activity.

Postcard Campaign

This morning our friend Phoebe Smith, editor of Wanderlust magazine, was on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme (about 41 minutes into recording I linked to), having a look at the postcards Radio 4 has received as part of their campaign to revive the use of postcards. I think the postcard campaign is a great idea, especially with the postcard having many friends in the stationery community, such as East…West…Everywhere’s Shangching, Banditapple’s Arnie and many more.

Pencil+

When searching on Google for something rather unrelated this morning I came across Pencil+, an upcoming Kickstarter. I thought I share the link with you, but I don’t have any further information (price, start date, …) and have not been in contact with the people behind the pencil.

Pencil+ (Image © Pencil+)


I believe that the use of pencil+’s image shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


…a Pencil Must Be Lead

After yesterday’s blog post about Britain’s Northern Pen Show, here’s a blog post about Northern British1 pencil humour from yesteryear.

Since we’re going to talk about horses: some horse pencils

Pencil Humour in the 1930s

From the 1930 Laurel and Hardy movie Brats: You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be le(a)d.

Pencil Humour in the 2010s

British pencil humour these days is very different. If you want a taste you can watch episode six of the BBC’s Fleabag. I won’t repeat the pencil joke here as it involves a hamster and is rather explicit2.

Fleabag (image © Two Brothers Pictures / BBC)

Another quote from Fleabag then: People make mistakes. It’s why they put rubbers on the ends of pencils.

David Rees Pencil Humour

Since we are talking about pencils and humour anyway: You might have noticed the link to Lifehacker’s Expert Guide To Sharpening Pencils I put on Bleistift’s Facebook page.

The author knows that David Rees’s pencil sharpening is to some extent comedic but looks at all the claims from the point of view of a botanical illustrator – someone who works with graphite and coloured pencils.


The Three Horse Pencils photo is from a previous blog post.

The screenshot has been taken from Fleabag episode six. I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Stan Laurel grew up in the North of England and in Scotland. As this is his sentence I’m just going to attribute it to him. []
  2. The BBC’s warning for this episode reads ‘Contains strong language and some sexual content.’ []

Paper Made the Modern Economy

If you’ve got 9 minutes to spare, why not listen to the episode about Paper from the radio series 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy?1 It is narrated by the pop star of economists Tim Harford.2

The image has been taken from a previous blog post about stationery stores in Shanghai.

  1. Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. []
  2. This is not the first appearance of his name in this blog. Can you find the other appearance? []