Skip to content

With so many types of pens, from the everyday stick pen to the decadent fountain and the multipurpose Sharpie, the humble pencil often has a tendency to be overlooked. That’s why National Pencil Day is here to remind everyone just how amazing a stick of graphite encased in a tube of wood can be!

History of National Pencil Day

In its modern form, the center of the pencil, graphite (the term “lead” is a misnomer) was put to use in Europe in the 15th century. However, some historians believe that native Aztecs were making use of it hundreds of years earlier.

When it was first used for making marks, the graphite sticks would leave a residue all over the hands of the user. One of the first solutions was to wrap the sticks of pure carbon in string to protect the hands, but this was still a bit messy. It wasn’t until 1795 that the modern pencil was invented by a French scientist named Nicholas-Jacques Conte.

By the early 19th century, manufacturing of pencils had become an important industry, and the portability of writing would change forever. Now, instead of needing a special desk where it’s possible to dip a pen into a special pot of ink, writing could be done almost anywhere.

Plus, the graphite in the pencil could be erased, which was very convenient. Prior to the invention of the eraser, though, people would use a pile of bread crumbs to rub out the marks made by a pencil. That’s also messy!

In 1858, a new and improved version of the pencil had been invented in the United States. On March 30 of that year, Hymen L. Lipman received the approved patent for a new kind of pencil – one with an eraser attached to the non-sharpened end, creating a convenient, all-in-one device that was much less messy. In fact, this is the reason that National Pencil Day is situated on March 30, as it is the anniversary of this patent of the pencil with an attached eraser.

Although the inventions of some more convenient versions of pens have perhaps overshadowed the pencil a bit, there is still nothing quite like writing or drawing with a delightfully sharpened, No. 2 yellow pencil with a brand new eraser perched happily on top. And celebrating this is what National Pencil Day is all about!

How to Celebrate National Pencil Day

Show appreciation for this classic and special writing instrument on National Pencil Day! Try out some of these ideas for observing the day:

Learn Interesting Facts About Pencils 

In observance and celebration of National Pencil Day, perhaps it would be fun to raise awareness by sharing some bits of trivia about the object of honor for the day. Here are some fun facts to get started with: 

  • A typical pencil can be sharpened around 17 times before it is too short to be used.

  • The Guinness record for the world’s largest pencil was set in 2007, measuring more than 76 feet long and weighing more than 21,000 pounds.

  • During its lifetime, a typical pencil can write approximately 45,000 words and draw a line up to 35 miles long. 

Draw with a Pencil

Sketching in pencil is an incredibly expressive, therapeutic and fun activity. Whether you’re an experienced illustrator or think you don’t have a single creative bone in your body, take five minutes to have a quick doodling session and see where that imagination can take you.

With a pencil it’s just so easy to remove any mistakes with an eraser, or simply rub it with a thumb to create a shaded area or interesting effect. Then when it’s all finished, there are few things more satisfying than placing the pencil behind your ear and parading around like a fifties New York journalist (and make sure to roll up those sleeves too!).

Oh, and for those who want to be particularly geeky (like us), check out this Pencil Grading Scales Explained article!

Also on ...

View all holidays
View all holidays

We think you may also like...