The De Gruyter


“Who wants to be secretary?” I looked around the room. No one had raised their hand. “The secretary position has no duties whatsoever.” I looked around again. Still, no hands were up, so I slowly raised mine. “Ok, Danny!” Dr. Scheuermann said, making a note on a piece of paper. And that’s how I became […]

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Well Ain’t That Special


This happens more than I’d like to admit. I pick up a random pencil, in this case, from a box containing around two thousand of pencils—a giant mishmash of old and new pencils. I want to write something. Or maybe not even. Maybe I just want to have a pencil in my hand, in case […]

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The Underliner


“Underlining takes a lot less graphite than writing does…” Jimmy Roach would know. He’s an MFA student in Fiction, and is a serious underliner. In fact, he maintains several caches of miniature pencils devoted solely to this purpose–in his car, on his kitchen table, and in his computer bag. He’s always ready to put thin […]

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Holding On


Imagine holding a dozen wooden baseball bats under your arm, day and night, for the next ten years. And how about if, once a week, somebody yanks a bat out from under there? Or jams another two in? Such is the life of a rubber band keeping a bunch of pencils together. It holds on, […]

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Some of the Many Wonders of Pencils


Hey look, I rescued more pencils! (translation: “Hey look, I bought another bag of junk at SAVERS!”) They aren’t bags of junk, though. They’re bags of wonder. For example, I wonder, “Who were the Wissahickons?” And I wonder, “Can I find out who the Wissahickons are without going on the internet?” [We interrupt this program […]

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Look at this wall of crap. I’ve been visiting these bags at least once a week, for about two years. It’s the only place I can semi-regularly find old pencils for sale. And it’s right next to the book section at my local SAVERS thrift store, which happens to be just a few minutes away […]

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All is Vanity


Whenever I think I’ve discovered a new species of pencil, I look it up on Bobby Truby’s amazing website: Brand Name Pencils. I’m usually hoping–somewhat guiltily–that I won’t find  the pencil listed there. My current, arbitrary marker of pencil rarity is “If Bobby Truby doesn’t have it, it’s rare!” And if you’ve been on his […]

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Who are your “Aviators”?

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I have two of these L. & C. Hardtmuth “Aviator” * 903 * 2H pencils. I got them in a bag of old “woods” I bought for $2 at an estate sale. I’ve never made a mark with either one. I’m sure they stopped making Aviator pencils about a hundred years ago. I’m afraid to […]

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