My friend, confidant, sometime tabletop game designing/spitballing partner, and all-around best bud told me earlier this week that the following day, March 30th (read also 30 March for the more internationally accustomed date writers among us), was Pencil Day.
And like a clod, I let it pass without any fanfare.
Suffice to say, I’ve become quite fond of pencils over the last few years, particularly for writing ideas and sometimes graphics for story and game ideas in my handy notebooks. I’ll get into notebook specifics if there’s ever a Notebook Day. Stay tuned!(?)
This past Christmas, Santa got me a box of Mitsubishi Matured Micro Graphite Lead 9800 HB pencils.
I quite like them. For the last two years or so, I’ve been using Staples brand pencils, the ones painted black and with the surprisingly decent eraser on the top. (Judge me for their use if you will. But they’re genuinely good quality and their leads don’t break as easily as some name brands, which was frankly impressive for something you’d think would be pretty low-end.)
These Mitsibishi 9800’s, though? Definitely next level. They’re genuinely smoother to use–perhaps that’s the “micro” part of the name, meaning a finer graphite compound–but you can definitely feel the graininess of the Staples ones by comparison, which was a total surprise to me, as someone who never knew there was much difference in the writing feel of everyday HB-type pencils. Speaking of which, the 9800’s are also surprisingly dark for something rated an HB, which is a bonus for legibility.
The flipside of the pencil from what’s shown in the photo actually says, “General writing”, but I find they’re also decent for sketching, as well. I’m a rebel like that.
I’m not clear on what the “matured” bit of their lengthy title is referring to. Older wood used in their creation, perhaps? Maybe they’re pencils that have gotten through their adolescence and settled down with a good job and a steady significant other? Or maybe the pencils are made and then aged in oak barrels like a fine, nuanced liquor?
I suppose I could just email the company to find out, but that would wreck some of the mystique.
The 9800’s aren’t as pricey as the (dead sexy) Blackwing brand, so if you’re looking to up your pencil game a couple of notches without splurging, they might be something for you to try.
My only criticism of the 9800’s is the lack of an eraser on them. Yes, I’ve heard modern science has finally managed to create erasers on their own. Will wonders never cease? But when I’m on the go and just want to grab my notebook and slip a pencil under its elastic closure, having a third object to manage is often a bridge too far. The Staples brand has erasers, Blackwing has erasers… at being between those two in alleged quality and definite price, c’mon, Mitsubishi, let’s not scrimp.
Perhaps I’ll spring for a box of the Blackwings as a birthday treat to myself this December. After all, I will have been hinting about them all year.