Pencil Facts

By Rebecca Ford
Pencil Facts

Pencils may be one of the most ignored but useful items in our lives. Every day, we write with them, chew on them and have been using them since our first time writing cursive. We've gathered up some of the most interesting facts about our favorite number 2s.

Pencils, Pencils Everywhere

More than 14 billion pencils are produced in the world yearly, 2 billion of which are made in the United States. If they were lined up end to end, they could circle the globe 62 times. A pencil can write 4,500 words.

Pencil Grading

We've all heard of the "#2" pencil, but what does that actually mean? Pencils vary in hardness, and the system in the United States ranks pencils by their hardness. The range goes from #1 to #4, with #1 being the softest--and therefore darkest--pencil.

History of the Pencil

The pencil was invented in 1565 in England, when a large amount of graphite was discovered, and locals found it was useful, especially for marking sheep. Because graphite is soft, the sticks were wrapped in string or sheepskin until the Italians added wooden holders.

The eraser wasn't added to the pencil until March 30, 1858.

World's Biggest Pencil

The world's biggest pencil was built by Ashrita Furman in New York. It was 76 feet long, weighed 22,000 pounds and cost $20,000. It was transferred to a museum in St. Louis by forklift.

Random Pencil Fact 1

Thomas Edison had his pencils specially made, and they were thicker than the average pencil.

Random Pencil Fact 2

John Steinbeck used a lot of pencils, sometimes as many as 60 each day.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Rebecca Ford has been writing professionally since 2006. Specializing in entertainment, pop-culture and travel, she has written for "Los Angeles Magazine," "Metromix" and Deadline Hollywood Daily, among other publications. Ford holds a Master of Arts in print journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in visual communication.