Which Pencil Is Which?

Pencils may look alike, but they can be very different!
Here's how you can tell them apart:

Pencils made from Incense-cedari (a renewable resource) are a reddish brown inside with a smooth, fine grain and a visible seam. They also have that familiar cedar scent when sharpened!

Pencils made from plastic have a pinkish color with no grain or seam, because plastic composite pencils are extruded by machine. They bend easily, and snap cleanly when broken. They do not have a scent.

Pencils made from tropical rainforest wood have a brownish color with little dark brown or red flecks. It is very hard to see the grain, and they have a slight scent.

To be sure you're buying pencils made from genuine Incense-cedar, look for the CedarMark on the package or on the Pencils.com Store item description.

Economics of Pencil Manufacturing

Just as with any other manufactured products the economics of pencil manufacturing are driven by a number of factors.

These cost drivers include:

- cost of raw materials (wood, graphitei, clay, brass, lacquer, etc.)
- cost of parts or other finished components used to assemble the pencil
- cost of transportation and handling of various materials used and of the finished product to the factory
- cost of labor and benefits for the factory workers employees
- cost of energy
- cost of supplies used to maintain eq
- cost of government regulations (taxes, duties, compliance to safety, labor or environmental rules)
- cost of capital (money used to buy equipment, to purchase and maintain inventories of raw materials, parts, supplies and finished product)
- cost of management

Pencil companies make a number of important decisions regarding these costs as part of their business. Some of the most important decisions include:
- the quality of product they wish to produce will impact which raw materials and component parts they will purchase
- alternative suppliers for raw materials
- whether to make or buy different component parts like slats, leads, ferrules and erasers or even semi-finished pencils from other pencil manufacturer
- where to locate thier pencil factories which is driven by relative differnece in costs between cities, states or countries for labor and materials, transportation costs for incomming materials as well as to the customer, regulatory and energy cost as well as duties and taxes
- the quantity of product to produce drives the level of investment required in the factory and inventories as well as can effect the cost per unit produced due to economies of scale.

The pencil manufacturer strives to minimize the cost of producing the pencils at the desired quality level and quantity of production and to sell all these pencils for more than the cost in order to acheive a profit.

All of these decisions are made within the framework of the marketplace and the competition the pencil maker faces for business from the other producers. The level of competition can have a big impact on the profit in an industry or segment of the pencil market. Each company tries to focus on what competititve advantage it has versus other pencil makers and what it can do better than others. This is why different companies specialize only in certain markets or product ranges to try to set themsves apart.

These days typical yellow writing pencils and children's coloring pencils are generally considered to be a commodity. That is one product from one producer is more or less considered by the customer to be as good as another, just like corn from one farm is more or less the same as corn from another farm. When this occurs the price often becomes the key purchase factor for the pencils. Then it is more difficult to make a profit without a strong brand name or other point of difference in terms of product feature or performance.

A key factor that effects the competition is the increasing level of international trade. As more markets have opened up to more producers from more countries around the world the pencil industry like many others has globalized. Many poorer countries such as China, Indonesia and India have dramatically increased pencils production and export because of a general cost advantage in materials, labor and reduced regulatory environments.

From the beginning

After papermill was invented, paper becomes common in Europe in the 1400s. people have been using quill pen to write. But quil pen and animal feathers will only last about a week, and these pens needs a very lengthy preparation time.

In 1560 Graphite was first mined from the hamlet of Seathwaite near Borrowdale parish, Cumbria, England. The local that time make used of these graphite to mark sheeps. These material was prove to be too soft for rocks and too hard to be earth, was judged by the Royal Society to be similar to white lead. and hence named as Black lead. These pure solid form of graphite could be easily sawn into sticks. 1584 Giovanni Lomazzo’s16c treatise on art and architecture recommended it to be use as a drawing material. And artists actaully adopted black lead well.

Black lead/ graphite used as a chuck/ stick were wrapped in strings or bound into wooden case for easy handling. inital metal lead holder was replaced by gluing black lead into wood cases by the end of 17C. In 1662 Friedrich Staedtler, a carpenter in Nuremberg invented the first modern pencil. He cit black lead into a square and glued it inside two halves of wood.

Wood casing of different shapes and sizes were employed over th years. Namely squares, rectangle, circle, hexagon.