Joe Fox: Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms. -- You've Got Mail (1998)
Hat tip to Robert at Librarian in the Middle for finding this very interesting article, "20 Things You Didn't Know About... Pencils."
All the facts are interesting. Three that caught my eye:
13 Pencils were among the basic equipment issued to Union soldiers during the Civil War.
14 The mechanical pencil was patented in 1822. The company founded by its British developers prospered until 1941, when the factory was bombed, presumably by pencil-hating Nazis.
16 More than half of all pencils come from China. In 2004, factories there turned out 10 billion pencils, enough to circle the earth more than 40 times.
Hmmm...recent recalls of Chinese products for lead paint make me wonder about all the teeth marks I've seen on pencils over the years. Oh dear.