Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Palomino Items for the Holidays

After a long wait we are happy to announce introduction of an eraser tipped option on our Palomino Blue HB pencils just in time for the Holidays. Now by popular request eraser tips are available for both our Palomino Orange and Palomino Blue lacquer variations.

Also for the Holidays we have put together a special Palomino Christmas Gift Pack which includes a nicely cello wrapped set including our 12 Count Artist Color Wood Box Set, a 6 count Palomino Orange HB with erasers and our favorite Palomino-KUM Long Point Sharpener for a special price of $24.95. This is over $6 or 18% savings on this collection of items versus purchasing each independently. Make an aspiring artist in your family happy with this gifts set for Christmas.

Another Holiday selection that makes a great stocking stuffer are our Spangle Christmas decoration pencils available in both 8 pack and 24 pack counts.

While our Pencil World Store is well known for our quick and timely delivery we generally do recommend you place your Christmas orders by December 16th to assure delivery on time for the holiday.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Support the Writers Pencil Campaign

Tired of watching reruns already on late night talk shows? Worried your weekly favorite shows will soon be headed to reruns?

Our associates at United Hollywood blog have launched a new campaign to promote the cause of the Writers Guild of America and guess what … It involves pencils. Titled “Pencils 2 Media Moguls” the campaign is intended to send masses of pencils to the CEOs of major television media companies as a show of solidarity with the writers guild. Here at California Republic we have collaborated with United Hollywood to supply pencils to be used for this campaign. Each $1 dozen pack of pencils purchased via this Pencils 2 Media Moguls link here will be forwarded on by United Hollywood on your behalf to these CEOs. The expectation is that the pencils will eventually be donated to support young writers in disadvantaged schools and other education prorams.

Two days into the campaign as of Sunday evening over 156,000 pencils have already been purchased. What better symbol of writing and solidarity than sending pencils. As the writers themselves are saying they are putting them down until they get a fair deal. The goal is to reach over 1 million pencils sent in for this campaign. So show your support for writing, the writers and ultimately the children who will benefit by receiving these pencils by buying a few packs here and forward this link to a friend. If you buys a few packs and have suggestions of deserving schools or programs where the Moguls can donate the pencils please forward these along to United Hollywood.

Finally, some of my readers might ask why WoodChuck, an avowed free trader would support such a union campaign. Of course the children as end recipients of the pencils will benefit from this campaign, but there is also a historical reason as well. My maternal grandfather Lawrence E. Watkin (wow, didn’t know he had a Wikipedia page until tonight), was once a WGA member and worked as a Hollywood writer mainly throughout the 1950s. That is until he was fired by Disney Co. when the writers were replaced during a former strike. Of course, I am not altogether altruistic as we are generating some sales for these unbranded pencils which as standard round advertising type pencils are representative of our Spangle Decorator basic pencil writing quality but are finished in standard lacquer without imprint or decoration.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Could Blackfeet Become the Next Blackwings?

Earlier this week we had an inquiry from a consumer looking to find a supply of Blackfeet Indian pencils. I had to pass along the news that the Blackfeet Indian Pencil Company is out of business for sometime now. The linked article here provides an interesting look at the challenges faced by Blackfeet Pencil Company as they last tried to re-establish operations around 2000. Unfortunately the company was not able to recover from its prior debt load and the changing competitive environment as increasing volumes of pencils entered the US market from Asia..

The best advice I could offer this person was to try eBay and I was able to provide a link to a current auction at the time. Today this auction for a 12 pencil wood box set of “The Blackfeet Indian Pencil” ended at a total value of $62.25 plus $4.50 shipping for a whopping $5.56 per pencil. Certainly this includes the nice redwood wooden box that these pencils come packed in, but still seems quite a premium as compared to our own Palomino Wood Box sets priced at $9.95 for 6ct on eBay or’s Palomino Signature 12 count Wood Box Set at $16.95.

So will the now discontinued Blackfeet Pencil develop a similar sache to that of the famous Blackwing? This auction does not represent the amazing $20 to $35 each pencil premiums that Blackfeet pencils fetch that these days. Certainly there is a bit of emotional attachment some people place on buying a pencil produced by Indians that once benefited and supported one of our Native American cultural groups. The pencil writing performance is good, but not to the quality of the Palomno or many premium quality writing pencils available today. The natural wood grain finish is a nice feature, but in and of itself is not uncommon these days. In fact most people associate the all natural finish of the Blackfeet Indian Pencil with their image of this brand, but the company did produce a broader range of pencil styles and brand names as exhibited in this nice collection. Certainly there has been some attention to Blackfeet pencil at Pencil Revolutions and Paper and Pencil. I guess only time will tell if we’ll be seeing $10 or $20 Blackfeet on occasional auctions of this item.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Palomino & California Republic Notes

Hello all you fellow Palomino Riders out there. I'm long past due in providing an update on developments with the Palominos and other brand ranges in our California Republic lines.

First, over the past few months we ran a test with some larger bulk pack formats with banded dozens in 36 and 72 count packs. We've had very positive reaction to this packing format. We ran through most of the stock on hand from this test and have just a couple remaining packs available on Pencil World Creativity Store both here and here. You may want to pick these up while they last.

Partially as a result of these tests we have reached a decision to make the banded dozen format more widely available for our internet distribution channel. In addition the banded dozens will be extended from the Palomino brand to also include all items in Golden Bear and Prospector ranges and even a few new Spangle items we plan to introduce by year end. We are a still a while off before these formats are formally introduced on a standard stocking basis, but do expect to have these up by year end. So keep your eyes peeled for this new option going live and I'll provide more details when teh new stock arrives and we are ready to go live.

In the meantime if you've found you do have an appetite for bulk pack pencils we do have ready supply of our popular ForestChoice FSC certified pencils in 1 gross (144 ct) bulk packs. These are available both here at PWCS @ eBay or at our ForestChoice website.

Also comming soon we will be adding an eraser tipped option in our Palomino Blue HB, as well as a few varieties of Spangle jumbo size school learning pencils in both round and triangular shapes.

Finally, I am making the commitment once again to more frequent posts on Timberlines so look forward to a series of new articles and weekly features covering a variety of topics. I know I got started last Spring and then didn't keep up. This time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

This Guy is "Mad, Crazy"

I would like to introduce to you the interesting misadventure of Tyler Farrer who’s new blog Make One Pencil chronicles his efforts to make one pencil all by materials and tools made and acquired only by himself. This effort is inspired by the famous essay entitled I, Pencil first published by the Economist Leonard E. Read in 1958.

Tyler describes himself as follows:

I am a self-proclaimed "Free-market", "Free-Trade", and "Capitalism-loving", "globalist". I also believe that it was probably impossible for one man to make a pencil in 1958. Will it be impossible in 2008? I don't know, but I want to be the one to try.

Another description might be simply he’s “mad, crazy”. I told him I’d like to help with raw material supplies given my involvement in the industry, but that would defeat the whole purpose of “one man, one pencil”. He can’t just buy the pre-manufactured components and assemble them either, to follow the concept of Read’s essay he has to produce the tools to produce the pencil and then the final product all by himself. As it is he’s at least benefiting from the internet as a resource on how to make the pencil since he doesn’t have to invent it just make it from scratch. He’s asked for financial contributions on the website, but doesn’t that defeat the “one man, one pencil” credo also?

But what real basis do I have to claim Tyler is “mad, crazy”. Simple, he’s working against some of the greatest principles of economics. He’ll either end up broke producing one pencil for some outrageous cost if he succeeds at all or he will have a breakdown ending up needing major therapy and probably pharmaceutical treatment as well. What’s more he knows all this to start as a good a good "Free-market", "Free-Trade", and "Capitalism-loving", "globalist”. If he’s not really insane now he may well be after this effort.

If you’re unfamiliar with I, Pencil I encourage you to read it. It’s essentially a lesson in these great economic principles best summarized by Milton Friedman in his Introduction to the essay on the Library of Economics and Liberty website. In Milton’s own most eloquent words:

I know of no other piece of literature that so succinctly, persuasively, and effectively illustrates the meaning of both Adam Smith's invisible hand—the possibility of cooperation without coercion—and Friedrich Hayek's emphasis on the importance of dispersed knowledge and the role of the price system in communicating information that "will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do."

Milton even used this essay in his popular TV Show “Free to Choose”. Anyway Tyler’s Make One Pencil quest strikes me as very coincidental timing as I have recently been re-reading various Milton Friedman works. So I guess this post can serve as a bit of my own memorial to Milton.

Finally, if you need any further support for my prediction of Tyler’s fate I encourage you to read this post at the Reach Upward blog. This is where his flash of brilliance to begin this odyssey got its initial spark. In any event I am very much enjoying Tyler’s prolific posts so far and intend to follow his progress and offer my moral support. It’s really all great fun and I’ll leave the decision to make financial contributions up to you. All the best of luck to Tyler.

Image Note: Particularly fitting for this post the drawing above by Dan Mignano was a runner up in one of our Incense Cedar Institutes Pencil Doodle Contests from the mid 1990s. The theme "No. 2 Pencil, Still No. 1 in a High Tech World."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pencils: Popular in Any Language

One of the most common questions I receive from those who learn I work in the pencil industry is "How do you get the leads into the wooden pencil?" This leads to any number of further questions and discussion about different aspects of the pencil business according to what any particular person finds interesting. There is no shortage of interesting and related topics depending upon how detailed and how technical one wants to get. In reality I have only touched on a very few areas in all the posts about industry issues over the past 18 months or so, whether it's anti-dumping duties, environmental aspects of forestry management and FSC certification, etc. FYI: Today I've added Labels to most of my posts so it should be easier to find different posts by subject matter.

Yesterday I came accross the following post "¿Cómo se meten las minas en los lápices de madera?" which answers just this question on the general interest Spanish language blog Ya está el listo que todo lo sabe (Here is the list of everything to know). The post includes a brief history of the development of the graphite pencil and a description of the pencil manufacturing process. This post as many other websites I have found over the years has liberally borrowed the photo from our How to Make A Pencil page on our Incense Cedar Institute Pencil Pages site on how pencils are made.

What I found most interesting about this post was the "commentarios" left by readers and in particular a long treatise on the wood used in pencils by Dr. Amio Cajander who provided a knowledgeable discussion of the use of Incense-cedar ,other pencil woods and even composite substitutes in his long comment in addition to describing some of the technical factors that make for a good pencil wood. He even generously noted my Timberlines blog as a resource for his information for those who wished to practice thier English. Additional comments indicated readers seemed generally interested in learning about how the pencil was made. This is not unlike my experience with reactions to my Timberlines posts and our feedback over many years from information provided on the Incense Cedar Institute Pencil Pages.

While my Spanish is just okay, I was able to make my way through this post relatively easily and it was good practice. So for those interested in testing their Spanish, practicar aqui.

Honestly, it's nice to see that there is such interest in the manufacturing process and the pencil itself from all over. I would take the time to link to a few other foreign language sites on the topic of how pencils are made that I've found over the years, but unfortunately I never bothered to save any of those links. So if you're visiting from another country and know of any such web pages in your native tongue please feel free to link to these in a comment to this post.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring Cleaning Sale Kicks off with Palomino Bulk Pack Offer

It’s been a busy Winter and Spring and I haven’t had much of a chance to be active with new Timberlines posts or to address new items for the Pencil Word Creativity Store @ eBay. Since we’re trying to do a bit of Spring Cleaning we’ve come up with a couple new listings as special offers. When you do this at home in your study or kitchen you typically find pencils and other writing instruments tucked away in some drawer somewhere. Well we’re no different here so over the next several weeks we’ll be offering a number of Spring Cleaning Sale Items.

A number of our repeat customers have asked about possibility of buying Palomino products in higher bulk quantities. As luck would have it we found some basic sample packaging for a 72 count item lying around and have decided to run a test. So while listed supplies last we now have the following 4 items available in 72-count bulk quantities at a price offering something over 10% savings on a per pencil basis versus our normal graphite 6 pack counts. Each is packed with 6 banded dozens in a ½ gross box. Click on any of these items to link to that item in the store.

Palomino HB Orange – 72 count Bulk Pack
Palomino HB Orange w/ Erasers – 72 count Bulk Pack
Palomino 2B Orange – 72 count Bulk Pack
Palomino HB Blue – 72 count Bulk Pack

We do have some 36 count packaging as well and will look at listing these after the 72 count volumes sell through. Following these tests we’ll evaluate whether a full time addition of a 36 or 72 count Bulk pack option for certain Palomino items makes sense. We appreciate your feedback and interest in spurring us on to try out these bulk packs.

Next we’ve now added a simple Palomino Orange 2B - 6 pack offering so customers don’t need to go to trouble of ordering a Variety pack and sending us a message just to say they want 6 2B pencils since a 6 count pack in 2B has proved to be a popular request on our variety pack offering.

As our Spring Cleaning process continues we’ll be adding other special one time offers with a few combo sets of a variety of KUM sharpeners, some notebooks and journals with our pencils and perhaps a new series of Vintage & Collectable pencils that we have on hand.