The Sanford American No. 2 Pencil

Oh boy, has it been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog! But, work’s busy season is winding down, and now I can actually sit and think for a while! ;o) I’ve mentioned in earlier articles the now-deprecated Sanford American No. 2 pencil, and feel I should at least pay it homage. I found one the other day; it was in my desk drawer. Finding stuff like this is like discovering a treasure. A couple weeks ago my brother found a Tops Docket Gold 3-hole, letter-length notepad; he cheered like a little boy when he saw it! I think I probably cheered at least a little when I saw this pencil.

Why is it that we get so excited about finding such artifacts? I think it’s because we develop a connection to things we used for so many years in the past which are now nearly impossible to find. It wouldn’t be that way if you could run down to Office Depot and pick up a package of them. But these supplies we swore by in the past have usually been put to pasture for good reason. In the case of the Sanford, it was re-marketed as a Paper Mate product. I haven’t tried it under the new brand, but I like to think they corrected at least some of the flaws which existed under the Sanford version (namely, the eraser).

Yet, with all of it’s flaws, I was overjoyed to find it. Not because it’s a superior product; I often find myself still reaching for my Dixon, instead. But it’s nice to have a sharpened Sanford American sitting on my desk again. If for no other reason, just to give me a smile when I look at it. Now, as for my brother’s Tops Docket notepad, I haven’t seen it since. I think he must have enshrined it so the brand would never fully go extinct.

~Jonathan

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The Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser

Having mentioned this eraser in an earlier post (2006 July 3, “The Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil”), I thought it necessary to give it a home of its own. I actually bought this eraser because of how awesome it looks. It’s so ‘80’s Japan. But then I used it. Honestly, I didn’t know an eraser like this existed. Even having used a Dixon to make my test marks, the Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser totally deleted the lines. I thought, “Surely that’s not possible; I’ve never seen that happen before.” So I tested it with an old Sanford American No. 2, and it erased the line even easier! I was hooked. This was without question the best eraser I’d ever used.

The Pentel Hi-Polymer eraser is a pure-white, plastic eraser. It comes encased in a thin, cardboard sleeve. At first I thought this was purely aesthetic, but I realized later that the purpose of the sleeve is to prevent the eraser from breaking in half. The plastic is extremely soft, which is the characteristic that gives it such great erasing ability. This same characteristic keeps it relatively clean, too. Most pencil erasers turn nearly solid black after three or four uses. But the Hi-Poly cleans itself off after each use; you slough off the old, black plastic and reveal a fresh layer that’s ready to go.

I honestly don’t think I’ll find an eraser that’s better than the Pentel Hi-Polymer. I’ve yet to run across an instance where I couldn’t completely rid the paper of markings. Even old marks come off quickly and easily. Please note, though, that the softness of this eraser causes it to grab the paper pretty well, so a firm hand on the page is necessary to keep from ripping it. However, a single use is all that’s required to master the technique. And that single use will leave you all-smiles, as you too will have concluded your search for the perfect eraser.

~Jonathan

Bibliography:

  1. The Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser
  2. Article on “The Writing Utensil Geek”: The Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil (Posted 2006 July 3).
  3. Paper Mate American No. 2 pencil, the replacement of the Sanford American No. 2 and the reason I switched to the Dixon Ticonderoga; I’ll have to test the Paper Mate to see if this switch was necessary.

The Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil

Most geeks have that one smell they just love. Well, I’ve actually got two, but one is the winner by a slight margin: The Dixon “Ticonderoga” pencil. This pencil has to be the single greatest pencil of all time. It writes so smooth, it erases so completely, and, oh! The smell of its shavings! I’ve long been a writing utensil geek. On the quest for the perfect pen I’ve come across some good ones and some hideous ones. But the quest for the perfect pencil has come to a close.

It didn’t take very many practice strokes with my freshly sharpened 1388-2/HB for me to be hooked. The “lead” is almost at the perfect balance between soft and firm, leaning a little toward soft for my taste. The only downside to this softness is the point doesn’t last as long. However, a terrific bonus is it lends a silky-smooth stroke. The letters flow off the tip of this pencil like butter. And that eraser! Most pencil erasers aren’t worth the effort to turn the pencil over. I think some companies only include them for a counter-balance. I typically end up using my Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser (which, by the way, is the single greatest stand-alone eraser of all time. That quest is also over.) However, with the Dixon Ticonderoga I can choose to leave the Hi-Poly in the drawer if I so desire. The eraser on the Dixon is not quite as good as the Pentel, but it does a great job for a built-in. However, it’s the wood the pencil is made of that has me hooked.

This pencil isn’t made from your standard pine, or whatever those other guys use. No, this pencil is made of cedar. And when you sharpen a Dixon Ticonderoga, that wonderful aroma fills the air. I’ve got about a third of a box left from my last purchase because I’ll randomly sharpen my pencil for no other reason except that I love the way it smells…that, and I have to have a perfectly sharp pencil. I want it just shy of slicing the paper. Now, if I could just find the perfect envelope, I’d be set.

~Jonathan

Bibliography:

  1. The Dixon Ticonderoga pencil
  2. The Pentel Hi-Polymer Eraser