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Five amazing facts about Pencil

Pencil is the most taken-for-granted invention. It’s highly useful and common. Here are some interesting facts about pencil,

Pencils were of only yellow color initially

Yellow pencils have been a tradition since the late 1800s, when the best graphite in the world was produced in China. Western pencil tycoons wanted their customers to know their pencils were filled with top-quality lead, so they painted their instruments in the color associated with Chinese royalty: yellow.

NASA spent thousands developing mechanical pencils, then scrapped them

As Scientific American reports, “NASA ordered 34 mechanical pencils from Houston’s Tycam Engineering Manufacturing, Inc., in 1965. They paid $4,382.50 or $128.89 per pencil.” Following the obvious public outcry and the Apollo 1 cabin fire of 1967 pencils were forever grounded for being too flammable.

There is no lead in pencil lead

There is no lead in pencil lead, rather pencil cores are made of a mix of graphite and clay, which is fired in a kiln at more than 800 degrees Celsius.

Stealing a pencil could earn you 7 years in prison

The price of England’s rare “plumbago” was originally set around £100 per ton—but after some savvy engineer discovered you could coat cannonballs in it, the price skyrocketed to £5,000 per ton by 1830. The graphite boom got so unruly that Parliament passed an act to make plumbago-thievery a crime punishable by seven years in a penal colony.

Napoleon wanted pencils as much as world domination

With pencil supplies running scarce in 1795, the French minister of war asked one of his officers—a brilliant young inventor/artist/balloon-pilot named Nicolas-Jacques Conte—to cobble up a substitute. After barely a week, Conte shot back with a kiln-fired cocktail of French graphite powder and clay, inventing the modern pencil-baking system we still use today. One can only imagine the giddy doodles General Napoleon Bonaparte made in his diary that night.

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