J. R. Moon “Big Dipper” Pencils

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This is not meant to be a proper review, but rather two (hopefully amusing) anecdotes related to this fun-looking pencil. (I know nothing about the J. R. Moon Pencil Company except that it is in Tennesee and still alive and well.) The “Big Dipper” was an impulse buy – I was in the middle of an intensive eBaying period and felt like trying something different from the usual Eagles and Eberhard Fabers. This bright red pencil had a pleasing vintage Coca-Cola kind of look, and was fat and round, characteristics I was in love with at that time. It wasn’t expensive either.

Only after I had placed the order did I discover that, the vintage looks notwithstanding, this pencil was still being manufactured in exactly the same design and could be bought online for slightly less than what I had paid. Ouch! When it comes to vintage stuff, a little learning is a dangerous thing indeed. I sharpened one anyway and found my suspicions confirmed – that these oversized round “primer” or “beginner”-type pencils rarely write the way I like. They write, for the most part, black and chalky. Regular writing pencils, not cute jumbo pencils, are best for writing.

I don’t buy oversized pencils anymore, but happily this pencil has had its uses. Uruguay has one surprising connection to the pencil world, in the person of one Señor Emilio Arenas of Colonia: he used to be, for many years, the man with the largest pencil collection in the world (articles in Spanish and English), with around 18,000 specimens, until an Indian teenager wrested the Guiness World Record title away from him recently. My son’s fourth-grade class went on a school trip to Colonia last week, and visited the pencil museum Mr. Arenas runs on his farm. The class was told that they could bring pencils to give Mr. Arenas if they wished, and so I naturally wanted to make a statement, but couldn’t figure out what kind of collection he had and what its focal points were. In the end I guessed his was an all-inclusive, magpie-like thing, and therefore unusual pencils might appeal more than others. Which is how one J. R. Moon “Big Dipper” was sent his way…

… and my son reported back that Mr. Arenas didn’t have this pencil in his collection! How gratifying ;)

I look forward to visiting Colonia myself, very soon, and reporting back on this world-famous pencil collection.

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(Sharpened with a Lyra two-hole sharpener.)

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7 thoughts on “J. R. Moon “Big Dipper” Pencils

  1. I love that you were able to add a pencil to such a collection!

    I’m quite fond of jumbo pencils – when drawing, they tend to force me to work larger, and more expressively than a standard pencil. The softer leads work well on the cloths the drama group I paint scenery for use too, and I use jumbos for outlining those almost exclusively.

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    1. Mr. Arenas is said to remember every pencil in his collection, so yes that was really something ;) I wonder if he has a lot of vintage pencils. He’s been collecting for a long time now so maybe he has some…

      And you’re right, the jumbo pencil can do stuff others can’t! I feel I’m missing out on so many fun ways to use pencils, since I don’t (can’t) draw. Thanks for pointing that out :)

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  2. I’m very much looking forward to finding out more about his museum from you.

    If Mr. Arenas figures out you have more pencils that are missing in his collection you will have to make regular trips to his museum ;^)

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    1. Oh, I would be delighted if that were the case but it’s not very likely ;) He runs a working farm, and pencils are a side hobby I think. He collects other things too, like key chains, matchboxes and ashtrays. His farm in Colonia and Buenos Aires are the two places I would like to visit right away when our car arrives :)

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