This week has been quite the experience for me and my pencil adventures. The EF Principal School Pencil was a pencil that I had been trying to find for years. Back in the early 90s, I was in high school and while pilfering the supply closet in the classroom, I came across a nice crisp box of these guys:
I distinctly remember using them religiously; they were far superior to all of the other crap pencils I had used and were more aesthetically pleasing than the gross black and some-kind-of-color BIC mechanical pencils that just came out. I made sure that I kept myself well stocked and often risked punishment by "pretending" I forgot my pen/pencil that day so I could take a trip to the cabinet. Fast forward 20 years...
I was browsing ebay using the search term "vintage pencils" (of course) and these beauties popped up. I instantly felt the excitement and wonderment I had felt in my high school days and clicked on "Buy it Now" before I could change my mind. When they arrived, I couldn't wait to sharpen one; oh to feel like I felt back when this pencil was the coolest kid on the block. I had looked forward to using this pencil for an entire week and swore that it would be hard to move on once I finished with my 7 days of use. I was wrong and in the meantime taught myself a powerful lesson about nostalgia.
The EF Principal sharpened beautifully and held its point longer than most pencils I have used. It truly was a great pencil to work with this week since my stats class has been forcing me to take 5+ pages of notes each class. My excitement quickly faded though when I began to realize that its hardness didn't match up to what I preferred. I just didn't write as smoothly and as dark as I am used to. The pencil's second strike came on Wednesday when I was taking notes and began to feel a scratchiness to the graphite. So much scratchiness that I actually had to scribble the point down and resharpen to get it writing smoothly again. The third strike was a result of the first two strikes; I just couldn't seem to write as quickly with this pencil.
I had to take breaks more often and found myself pushing down a lot harder because I felt as though that would somehow impact the darkness of the graphite (spoiler: it didn't). The EF Principal is not a horrible pencil by any means, but it does fall short on many of what I deem to be "pencil necessities" (smoothness and durability). The positives were great, but they all seemed to be about the form of this pencil and not the function. Firstly, the foil stamping was nice a crisp and shiny. The silver foil stamping coupled with the gold ferrule really gave this pencil a unique look.
The pencil had a nice weight to it and you could just tell it was made with quality materials. The eraser was a nice bright pink, and erased well (even after 20+ years), but it left way too much dust and debris. I was quite disappointed that this pencil did not perform the way I remembered, but isn't that often the way life is anyway? Things always seemed to be much better than they actually really were because we want them to be that way. In all actuality, we do this because we yearn for the past and sometimes those objects we have attached to our past hold much more significance in theory than they do in reality.