My recent pencil fascination has me on the lookout for new products at every turn, but this one caught me off guard. I keep up with everything Franklin-Christoph does on the pen side of the ledger, but the launch of their 1901 Pencils was a surprise.
I was behind the Nock table at the Triangle Pen Show when a friend walked up and asked if I had gotten the new F-C pencils yet. I’m pretty sure my facial reaction was some version of the side-eye are you crazy look. “Franklin-Christoph makes pencils?”
I told my daughter to watch the table while I walked across the room to see for myself, and sure enough, there they were. I asked Scott Franklin about them and he said “Oh yeah, I meant to give you some!” and here we are.
What intrigued me immediately with the 1901 Pencils were the availability of different lead grades right out the gate. There’s only four - HB, B, 2B, and 4B - but that’s three more than many pencil lines start out with. As a group, these four grades are available with a metal cap in place of an eraser as the art series of 1901 pencils. The standard eraser version is available in HB and B.
I also like the size of the packs they come in. The eraser pencils come in dozens, or a split box of six HB and six B. The art pencils come in four-packs of individual grades, or a four pack with one of each. I came home with that mixed pack, plus one of each of the eraser models, to test out.
I went for the HB first, and it felt right on the money. The point felt smooth, with a bit of normal pencil feedback, and the shade had nice darkness. I picked up the B next, working my way up the softness scale. It felt and looked the same. I double checked, and yep, it was the B, not the HB. Ok, maybe not a lot of variation should be expected seeing as they are adjacent on the scale. I maybe noticed a slightly softer core, but the color was very close.
When I picked up the 2B there was a definite core softness difference, yet was only slightly darker than the previous two. The 4B felt and looked nearly the same as the 2B. This made me wonder.
Is a two grade difference between graphite grades enough to tell an immediate difference? I’ve always though so, but maybe I haven’t tested enough pencils to understand this completely. Looking at the closeup below you can see slight differences in darkness between all four, but when I was writing with them it wasn’t as noticeable to me.
The second thing I wonder is if this is a feature of the manufacturer. These are Musgrave pencils, and I have used very few Musgraves in my short time with pencils in the rotation. Are some manufacturers known for slighter grade differences, and others greater?
This is why I love reviewing stationery products so much. A simple pencil leads me down this thought path. And I care about the answers. Hopefully I will find them out.
In the end, I love the look and feel of the Franklin-Christoph 1901 Pencils. That said, I only need one grade our of the four since I find them all so similar. And if I had to pick, I’d pick the HB. It’s dark enough and smooth enough to suit my every day writing needs.
(Franklin-Christoph provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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