These pencils are just to my taste, on many levels. First, they are from Eagle, one of my favorite manufacturers; they are round (and slightly larger in diameter); and they are stenographic pencils. I like the fact too that Eagle prefers to call them “shorthand”, and also that the pencil cap managed not to get lost after all these years. It would have been nicer to have the printing in gold, not grey, but maybe stenographers are just too busy to look at the fine print on their pencils?
As Eagle pencils go, these shorthand pencils are a bit softer and smoother than either Venus or Eberhard Faber. I don’t know anything about stenography so I can only guess, but if it is true that stenographers write with very little pressure in order to reduce fatigue, then steno pencils would need to leave a legible enough mark on the paper even when held very lightly. But on the other hand, they need to hold their point longer than ordinary pencils, because stenographers don’t have the time to sharpen them very often. So in this sense, making a good shorthand pencil seems to involve a more complicated challenge than meets the eye – you can’t just make a round-bodied 2H pencil and call it a steno.
Which kind of makes me understand why modern stenographic pencils (the late Staedtler Stenofix and the ongoing Faber-Castell 9008, for example) tend to lean towards darker degrees (HB to 2B) than the other way around, even though one would assume 2B pencils would need to be sharpened more often. It also makes me think that not all stenographic pencils would be considered perfect; some manufacturers sacrifice lead darkness and smooth writing more in order to make the point stay sharp longer. I wonder if stenographers had their own preferences among these pencils. Or maybe they just used mechanical pencils?