Rotary eClub One, District 5450
World's 1st eClub (Jan 2002)

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Everything begins with a Pencil . . . . (PART I)

By Harshad Raveshia

 Can you believe, without my presence in your life, you could never have reached this page to read this column & write & share your comments!! I am the basic ‘tool’ for the development of Human skills and ability!! I never boast, I say the truth, share all facts and if anything that ever stated wrong, I erase that with the ‘eraser’ at my second ‘end’!

Yes, I am your most closest and confidential friend “Pencil…”

Before we go much deeper in me, let me explain you few facts about myself!! Here I present brief introduction of myself with my components!!

  • The Inner ‘Core’ known as “lead” used for writing or drawing work is not at all LEAD, it is composition of Graphite (or Colour Pigments), Clay & Binder, mixed, compressed, extruded, dried & backed at 850` C.
  • The casing of ‘WOOD’ is done by fixing ‘lead’ in 2 ‘halves’ of wood.
  • Pencil making is considered as greatest achievement of 16th Century followed by time to time development and up-gradation of manufacturing technology.
  • 18th Century is marked with ‘Golden Letters’ in history of Pencil as the modern process of manufacturing modern ‘lead’ in France by Nicholas Jacques Cont’e.
  • Incense Cedar is most preferred wood for making best quality Pencils.
  • A Pencil can draw 35 miles long line and can write 45000 words with having sharpened 17 times!!
  • “Pencil” name came from Old French Word “Pincel” (Small Paint Brush) which derived from old Latin word “Penicillus” by meaning as ‘small tail’!!
  • Most of all western countries were having their own technology for encasing ‘lead’ in to wooden barrel up to mid 1850, after this all countries followed German Designed Mechanical Process which is still followed with more automation.
  • Pencil making being highly labour oriented process, most of all pioneer countries of ‘Pencil Origin’ have stopped or reduced this activities and have migrated to Asian Countries where labour force is economical!!
  • Today China is the largest producer of Pencils followed by India, Brazil, Indonesia & Argentina!! 

Just few days back, a group of students from ‘Fountain Head School’ Surat came to my Master Harshad Raveshia. They were keen to see the process of Pencil making and nearly 200 students were shooting question to my master and my master was hardly able to reply few questions!! So I decided to go to the assistance of my master and replied and solved all quarries and curiosity of all!! And here is my story.


“Miracle encased in Wood”

Invention of Pencil

In 1565, a huge storm uprooted a big Pine Tree near Keswick Town in Borrowdale Province of England and after the storm was over the natives of that area found deposits of “Black Bright Material” which could leave ‘Black Mark’ on any surface. This was used to mark ‘SHIPS’ to identify its group owner.

Raw Graphite.jpg


Later on strips of this material were cut by saw and wrapped with paper, cotton thread or cloth to hands getting black. This was the pioneer birth stage of today’s Modern Pencil!! 2 strips of wood took place of this ‘wrapping’ and the Graphite Slip was sticked with glue between 2 strips of wood. This was improved to encasing thinner Graphite Slip ‘Square’ Grooved Piece of wood by covering its top by another piece of wood making it ‘square’ Pencil!!

Oldest Pencil.jpg


The making of Pencil was fully done by hands and many families of Wooden Cabinet Makers in Europe. Nuremberg in Germany is believed to be the first place to make Pencil in old days!

In 1795, during the war time (Between France & England) French people were not able to get the superior Graphite from English mines and their own deposits of Graphite were very poor. This lead Napoleon to address the needs of Pencil and he assigned his War Scientist Major Cont’e to develop process of improving writing property of poor quality Graphite.

With years of research, Cont’e developed the today’s modern process of making ‘Extruded Graphite Lead’ by using inferior Graphite improved to higher purity!! Here the Modern Manufacturing Science and Engineering was first ever introduced and a ‘REAL PENCIL’ like look and its properties were developed!!




(1)  Square wood Strip with Groove

(2)  Hand sliced Solid Graphite Stick inserted

(3)  Excess Graphite removed

(4)  Covered with another piece of wood with Adhesive,

(A) Half Round Shape with Groove

(B) Round Extruded Lead inserted

(C) Covered with another half


  • Harshad Raveshia is a member of Rotary eClub One
  • The opinions expressed by the authors of each Make-up Article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff.

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