Actually, there was one specific pencil that prompted me to start blogging – the Mars Lumograph 2390 with the amazing long ferrule.
I came to this pencil effortlessly, to a degree that seems absurd to me now given its rarity. I had just started consciously collecting pencils, and bought some samples off Bobby Truby’s site, which is a great resource for pencil collectors and aficionados. If you don’t have the time or the energy to sit around waiting for something to come up on eBay, or if you’re a newbie like me and don’t know exactly what you want, then Brand Name Pencils is for you. Anyway, I thought I would try an old Lumograph, and I thought, why not one with a ferrule? And thus the 2390 came my way.
I love everything about it – its length, its unusual ferrule, the darker colour, the way the paint coats the wood just right so that the edges of the hexagon feel neither too sharp nor too dull against the hand, and above all the gold imprint that runs all the way from one side to the other. The crescent moon, and Phobos and Daimos, which is missing from modern Lumographs. And even its unavailability, which makes it so much more special and makes every stroke count.
It writes something special, too. When I first started on pencils the only differentiation I could make was whether it wrote dark or light, smooth or scratchy. Later on, when I got to know a bit more about the materials that made up the lead, I found myself thinking in terms of graphite and clay and wax, their relative proportions and degree of refinement. It’s still how I judge most pencils. But the 2390 defied anything like a formula, because the lead didn’t feel like a composite of anything but a smooth, harmonious, organic and perfect Whole.
Actually, there is something about the lead that reminds me of Caran d’Ache pencils, as if the 2390 is halfway on its way to becoming a Technograph. It’s my impression that the 2390 writes a bit darker and smoother than the 2886, but I’m probably imagining things…? The lead should, in theory, be identical. But all the same, it was a very special moment, when I first held the 2390, and I feel very lucky to have met such a lovely pencil so early on in my pencil journey.
And now – my Mars family :)