Eagle No. 270 Shorthand Pencils

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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?

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16 thoughts on “Eagle No. 270 Shorthand Pencils

  1. Beautiful box and pencils! Thank you for showing. – Re stenography: It is important that the pencil allows the variation of the stroke width since this contains information too; a softer pencil makes that a little easier.

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    1. Thank you for that additional information! Actually when I wrote the post I was thinking about something a retired stenographer once told me (we took a calligraphy workshop together): that they were taught to hold the pencil so lightly as to make it possible for the instructor to just pull the pencils out from their hands. If there are more reasons in favor of a softer steno pencil then it’s really a mystery how some are so hard!

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    2. I think it depends on the type of shorthand used. I remember two main types, one of which needs a fine, consistent line, and one of which relies on line variation.
      It means that stenography nibs can either be rather nail like, or gloriously flexible :) (I have a Pelikan P470 Steno that has a nice, fine flexible nib).
      (After googling, the first is Gregg, and the latter Pitman)

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      1. Ahh, this is getting more and more interesting! Thank you for the information. So maybe steno pencils of European provenance would be softer than American ones? So far that seems to hold up (in general).

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      2. Thank you for that detail! Of course this differentiation is necessary. – You’re lucky to have a P470! When I became aware of that pen it was already discontinued, and the prices have skyrocketed.

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    1. While on horseback? Now that’s something very unusual! May I ask for a shorthand system which can be used while walking the dog? ;-) But all kidding aside – I admire the creativity of the inventors of all these shorthand systems. – Apropos: Did you ever come across the Tironian “et”? It too was part of a very early shorthand sytem and is still used today in Ireland. And while we’re at it: “Shady Characters” may be of interest to you.

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      1. Fascinating! Thanks Gunther.

        I can only imagine that a shorthand for dog walkers would include the same character to mean “rabbit”, “squirrel” &c – it would be an initially thick line that becomes thinner until it goes off the edge of the page, as your leash arm is yanked violently sideways :)

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  2. Gunther – I was very fortunate indeed with my P470, paying about £20 after the model had just been discontinued (it’s a later, black barreled model – people tell me that the red barreled, earlier version is superior).

    Even so, it’s a very reliable, and fun pen – mine lives in my planner loop, as the fine nib is excellent for the small spaces in the pocket planner I use. I do sketch with it too though, as the nib is too much fun to use for work only!

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  3. 덧글 풍년이네요~ 유럽의 속기는 획 굵기를 활용하기 때문에 부드러운 심이 유용하다고 저도 다른 데서 들은 적이 있었어요. 한편 회사에 다닌다는 일은 일종의 속기 해독술을 필요로 하지요(상무님과 팀장님 필기를 알아봐야 하기 때문에).

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    1. 조회수가 결코 많지 않은데 그에 비해 댓글이 많이 달리는 것에 참 감사한 마음이 들어요! 우리끼리 즐겁게 얘기한달까요 ㅎㅎ 사회생활 즐겁게 잘 하시길^^

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