Learn about Pencils

Graphite was discovered and came into widespread use for writing following the discovery of a large deposit in Borrowdale, England in 1564. It made a darker line than lead, but was soft and brittle, and required a holder.

The graphite sticks were firstly wrapped in string, but later the graphite was inserted into hollowed wooden sticks the resultant pencil being similar to those in use today.

Britain soon lost its monopoly on production of wooden pencils and they were mass-produced in Germany from the 15th century. In the mid 16th century a number of German pencil manucturers were established whose trade names are still in use today, including Faber-Castell, Steadtler and Lyra.

In 1822, Sampson Mordan (1770 - 1843) with his partner, John Hawkins patented a "metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite 'lead' shaft forward during use", now known as the propelling pencil.

This meant that the casing could now be metal, most commonly gold or silver, which had appeal to the increasingly affluent middle and upper classes in Britain in the 19th century. more...

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These items are not for sale and the descriptions, images and prices are for reference purposes only.

9ct yellow gold propelling pencil, circa 1899, approx. 10.18 grams

Victorian fob propelling pencil with blue enamel, approx 3.5 cm (closed) including bale

Antique sterling silver mechanical pencil by Baker & sons, with design registration #565713

Sampson Mordan sterling silver writing set comprising of a lead projecting pencil and pen, both marked S. MORDAN STERLING, 14 cm long approx

A gold 'Asprey' pendant propelling pencil, 9ct gold, stamped 'Asprey' & Hallmarked London 1908. Length 64mm. Weight 20gm.

An antique slide gold pencil. 9ct yellow gold, presented as a tubular shaped case of stippled central finish, rounded polished ends with central bail fitted, concealing a telescopic function to reveal and pencil. Length not extended: 4.7 cms

A Mont Blanc mechanical pencil. Germany. The Meisterstuck Mont Blanc black pencil numbered XH1268719. Length 15 cm

A Victorian 9 carat rose gold propelling pencil, later 19th century, with maker's mark E.B. The hexagonal shaped pencil with chased foliate designs and a turban shaped finial with a stone seal; hallmarked 9C to shaft. Length 12.5 cm

A Parker pen '51' set, 1/10 12ct rolled gold, ballpoint pen (not retracting) and pencil. Boxed.

9ct yellow gold Sampson Mordan pencil. Metal mechanism. Seal to top.

Vintage Sheaffer fountain pen and pencil set Pat.Aug 25.08, mottled tan and black with gold metal detail

An Eversharp gold plated pencil, circa 1920s, model 3061C, the engine turned ring top pencil marked Eversharp, gold filled and made in England, in the original box with paperwork. Length 13.5 cm

S. Mordan silver propelling pencil & another by E. Raker & Sons

A Montblanc malachite pen and pencil set, comprising a rollerball pen and pencil each with malachite cap, in fitted leather pouch

9ct rose gold pencil holder weight including pencil stub 11.5 grams, together with pencil by Perry & Co

A boxed guilloche enamel silver gilt writing set, Cartier, circa 1920 comprising a pen rest, a nib holder, a double ended eraser, a pencil and a pen knife, the pen rest of tapering oblong form, with white enamel jeweling to the edge, the blue guilloche ena

A 9ct gold pencil, Sampson Mordan & Co., London 1920 (2). A 9ct gold pencil, Sampson Mordan & Co., London 1920 the plain pencil with removable lid, loop to opposite end, inscribed to the exterior Dame Nellie Melba 1925, 7 grams, 75mm long (2). Property fro

English sterling silver, London 1957 - ruler (both inches and metric) and propelling pencil

Montblanc Meisterstuck maroon pencil in a hard cover case. Length of case 21.6 cm