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Learning Curve

1801: Pencils.

Marketplace Contributor May 13, 2014

The first wood ones were made in America in the early 1800s. The eraser came along in the 1850s. And the combo created fear among teachers, who were concerned that a pencil with an eraser would encourage students to make mistakes.

But there was no going back. In the 1870’s, Dixon Ticonderoga began mass producing pencils at a rate of 86,000 a day.The company notes on its website that the Civil War drove up demand for a writing implement that was “dry, clean and portable.”

By the 1900s, pencils were on school desks everywhere and yellow pencils had become the standard. Why yellow?  The best graphite came from China, where yellow was the color of royalty and respect. Manufacturers chose it as a sign of high quality.

The rise of digital technology hasn’t killed the pencil just yet. In the U.S. alone, more than 2 billion pencils are used every year.


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