Fact File about the Invention of the Pencil: Invention: Pencil *** Date
of Invention: 1795 *** Name of Inventor: Nicolas-Jacques Conte *** Lifespan of
Inventor: 1755 - 1805 *** Nationality of Inventor: French *** Historical Period:
Industrial Revolution (1700 - 1860) *** Category: Office Equipment *** Country
of Origin: France *** Facts about the Inventor, Nicolas-Jacques Conte, and the
invention of the Pencil ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Pencil? The modern, wooden graphite pencil was
invented by Nicolas-Jacques Conte in 1795 during the Industrial Revolution era
of inventions (1700 - 1860).
Fact 2: Who invented the Pencil? Prior to the invention of the wooden
graphite pencil in 1795, there were a variety of ancient writing implements and
materials. The paint brush was used in prehistoric times before writing was
invented. Paints and inks were independently discovered and formulated by all of
the ancient civilizations but their writing implements differed according to
their writing materials.
Fact 3: Who invented the Pencil? The
Mesopotamians invented the Stylus, an
ancient writing tool, c.
2900 BC. The stylus was made from a
reed and used by scribes in ancient
Mesopotamia to make
wedge shaped symbols on the clay
tablets they used for writing.
Fact 4: Who invented the Pencil? The Greeks, Romans and monks in the Dark
Ages also used a metal or bone stylus on their 'reed pens' for writing on
papyrus, parchment or vellum.
Fact 5: Who invented the Pencil? The Chinese used an ink brush for
writing. Brush pens were commonly made with bamboo handles and the brush head
was made from a variety of different types of animal hair.
The Ancient Chinese invented
paper c. 100 BC but their invention did not reach Europe
Fact 6: Who invented the Pencil? In Europe the reed pens were replaced by
the quill pen, a writing implement that was made from the wing feathers of
birds. The hollow shaft of the feather, called the calamus, acted as an ink
Fact 7: Who invented the Pencil? The discovery of graphite led to the
invention of the modern pencil. The word 'pencil' derives from the Old French
word 'pincel' meaning "artist's paintbrush".
Fact 8: Who invented the Pencil? Graphite is a rare, naturally occurring,
black, crystalline form of carbon that was discovered in England during the
early 1500's. A large graphite deposit was discovered at Seathwaite in the
valley of Borrowdale, Cumbria in the English Lake District. According to local
legend a fierce storm in Borrowdale uprooted a large oak tree and farmers
discovered a strange black substance clinging to its roots.
Fact 9: Who invented the Pencil? The local shepherds found the black
substance useful for marking their sheep, The locals called the graphite
by the Old English word "wad" meaning 'woad' which was once used as an old dye.
Another term they used was "black cawke" meaning "black chalk".
Fact 10: Who invented the Pencil? The substance was solid and black, had a greasy feel and it
left a mark upon your hands when rubbed. The locals cut the "wad" into a stick
and carried it around wrapped in a bit of sheepskin.
Fact 11: Who invented the Pencil? The idea for writing with "wad"
was soon developed as people found it made excellent marks on paper. As its use
spread to towns people began to wrap the sticks in twine, string, twigs or
paper, and then began inserting them into a wooden handle.
Fact 12: Who invented the Pencil? Two mines were established called the
Upper and Lower Wadholes. The graphite at Borrowdale was the only large scale
deposit of graphite ever found in its solid form. As the demand for the new
writing material grew, so did its importance.
Fact 13: Who invented the Pencil? Scientists frowned on using the
colloquial terms of "wad" or "black cawke" for the newly discovered substance so
they described it using different names including "black lead", "plumbago"
and "black antimony".
Fact 14: Who invented the Pencil? The early names given to the substance
by the scientists explains the enduring and confusing term "lead pencil". Some
believed the substance was a form of black lead, rather than a form of
carbon, so graphite was called "plumbago", which was derived from the Latin word
"plumbum" meaning "lead".
Fact 15: Who invented the Pencil? Other Renaissance metallurgists first
called graphite 'black antimony' a substance once used by ancient Egyptians for
black eye make-up, commonly referred to as kohl. The earliest known description
and illustration of a black 'lead' writing tool (pencil) dates from a 1565 book called
'On Fossil Objects' by Conrad Gessner. In his book Conrad Gessner said "The
stylus shown below is made for writing, from a sort of lead (which I have heard
the English call antimony), shaved to a point and inserted into a wooden
Fact 16: Who invented the Pencil? The word 'graphite' was not coined
until 1789 when German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817) invented
the word from the Greek word 'graphein' meaning "to write". However, the
association with lead and the pencil has stuck and is still often used today -
even though the pencil has never contained lead!
Fact 17: Who invented the Pencil? By 1610 the convenient little "black
lead pencil" in its wooden holders were sold regularly in the streets in
London and the graphite sticks were imported to Europe. The 'lead pencil' caused
a sensation, especially among artists. The pencil was highly portable, could
be easily shaped, sharpened to a point and could be used on just about
anything. In addition the marks left by a pencil was erasable. Small pieces of white
bread were used by to erase pencil marks so work could start over again.
Fact 18: Who invented the Pencil? The graphite mines at Borrowdale
strictly controlled the amounts mined yearly, giving England a monopoly on the
substance. No one was able to find a second deposit of graphite that could be
cut into sticks and used to make pencils. The substance was found elsewhere but
only in a powder form that was no good for making pencils.
Fact 19: Who invented the Pencil? In 1662 a man named Friedrich Staedtler
invented a 'dry pencil' made of powdered graphite, wax and china clay. It could
not match the quality of the Borrowdale graphite but it was much cheaper. The
name of Staedtler is still known today as makers of fine writing instruments.
Fact 20: Who invented the Pencil? The invention of the modern pencil is
credited to Nicolas-Jacques Conte, a French artist and soldier. The French
Revolution had erupted and in 1793 France declared war on Britain which resulted
in a British blockade of French ports.
Fact 21: Who invented the Pencil? It was impossible for the French to get
graphite sticks from England so the artist and military man
Nicolas-Jacques Conte was tasked with creating a substitute product.
Fact 22: Who invented the Pencil? The inventor of the
modern pencil, Nicolas-Jacques Conte, was born on August 4, 1755 in Aunou-sur-Orne, France and died on December 6, 1805.
Fact 23: Who invented the Pencil? Nicolas-Jaques Conté was granted a
patent in 1795 for his new formula of mixing powdered graphite with clay to make
a pencil. He
varied the proportions of clay to graphite which placed in a kiln fire and
resulted in producing pencil leads of different, but uniform, degrees of
blackness and hardness. The greater the clay element, the harder the pencil. His
new pencils were encased in a cylinder of wood and his invention remains the
basis for pencil making today.
Fact 24: Who invented the Pencil? The famous octagonal and hexagonal
shapes of the pencil were invented in 1812 by two American cabinet makers named
William Monroe and Ebenezer Wood (1792 - 1880) who founded a factory in
Concord Massachusetts which began the American pencil industry. Ebenezer Wood
went on to automate the manufacture of pencils using machines.
Fact 25: Who invented the Pencil? In 1847 Joseph Dixon (1799 - 1869)
opened a pencil and crucible (container) factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. In
1866 Joseph Dixon patented a wood-planing machine capable of producing wood for
132 pencils per minute and produced the world’s first mass-produced pencils.
Fact 26: Who invented the Pencil? In 1847 the Frenchman Therry des
Estwaux first invented the manual pencil sharpener. In 1851 Walter K. Foster
patented the first American pencil sharpener in 1851 (patent number US 12722),
improving on Therry des Estwaux's pecil design and mass producing his invention.
Fact 27: Who invented the Pencil? Hymen Lipman (March 20, 1817 – November
4, 1893) a stationer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is credited with
registering the first patent for a pencil with a built-in eraser on March 30,
Fact 28: Who invented the Pencil? By the end of the 1800's over 240,000
pencils were used each day in the US and completely replaced the old ink and
Fact 29: Who invented the Pencil? In 1890 the L. & C. Hardtmuth Company
of the Czech Republic introduced the 'Koh-I-Noor' high quality pencil with a
yellow casing. The pencil was so popular that many other manufacturers copied
the color to make their pencils look like the high quality of their competitors.
Yellow is the most popular outer pencil color in the world.
Fact 30: Who invented the Pencil? The Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth manufacturers
are also credited with originated the HB standard of hardness gradations of the
The letter H, indicating a hard pencil, stood for Hardtmuth, the letter B,
indicating a softer pencil, for the company's location of Budejovice, and
F, indicating the pencil sharpens to a fine point, for Franz Hardtmuth, who was
responsible for technological improvements in the manufacture of pencils.
Fact 31: Who invented the Pencil? In 1920 colored pencils were pioneered
by the Faber-Castell company in Stein, Germany who used pigments, additives, and
binding agents to produce a variety of pencil colors.
Fact 32: Who invented the Pencil? Today, more than half of all pencils
come from China and billion of pencils are sold every year.