We must go back to roman times to find the first predecessor of a pencil, where they use a metal rod, usually made of lead, to tear paper. Thus, even though it was more embossing rather than writing as we understand the concept nowadays, this lead to create the first pencils. In the XV century, the first pencil mines were made by mixing lead and tin. It was not until 1564 that an enormous deposit of graphite was discovered. In Borrowdale (England).
In order to ease its transportation, graphite was fragmented in thin sticks. However, when cutted, graphite turned into a highly brittle material. So it was necessary to protect graphite with ropes and leather to prevent the sticks from cracking.
Source of the image: curiosaesfera-historia.com
Later on, italian artisans conceived a new way to protect the graphite sticks so that it does not get damaged: they hollow a wooden rod and fill it with graphite. The first pencils were created.
In the 60s, mass quantities of pencils were made in Nuremberg (Germany). Numerous craftsmen established their workshops there. One of these craftsmen, Kaspar Faber, began to stand out for the outstanding quality of his creations, being the first generation of the now renowned Faber Castell company.
In 1770, Edward Naime began to commercialize rubber erasers. Later, in 1795, a French chemist named Nicolas Conté invented a formula that combined powdered graphite with clay, which allowed to lower the costs while achieving the same utility. Finally, in 1822, Sampson Mordan and John Hawkins patented the first mechanical pencil: an instrument very similar to the pencil but equipped with an innovative mechanism to advance the lead without having to sharpen the pencil, and to replenish it once it was worn out, without having to replace the entire instrument.
Nowadays, both the pencil and the mechanical pencil have become such a common instrument that they are essential in every desk. How to choose the perfect one?