Did you know: Facts about pens and pencils

Around 2,500 pencils can be made from one average tree. — PHOTO: Submitted


• An average pen can write about 45,000 words before running out of ink.

• United States produces 2 billion pens in a year.

• Ballpoint pens were very popular among pilots in World War II because they did not leak at high altitudes.

• The president of the United States signs bills every time with a different pen and that pen is never used again for signing. He then gives the pen away as a gift to supporters who helped him create the document. The White House engraves these presidential pens beforehand.

• The most common types of pens are the ballpoint pen (biro pen), the gel pen, the fountain pen, the brush pen, and the marker pen. Highlighters and markers are also types of pens.

• Out of all the promotional products around the world, surveys show that the most common choice is promotional pens.


• Before the invention of erasers, writers and artists used bread crumbs to erase mistakes from pencils.

• Around 2,500 pencils can be made from one average tree.

• Word “pencil” comes from Old French word “pincel” meaning “a small paintbrush”. Pincel, in turn, comes from Latin “penicillus” meaning a “little tail”.

• Pencil leads contain no lead – just graphite and clay.

• Pencils can write in zero gravity, and were used on space missions by American and Russian astronauts.

• The eraser wasn’t added to the pencil until March 30, 1858.

• We’ve all heard of the “#2” pencil, but what does that actually mean? Pencils vary in hardness, and the system in the United States ranks pencils by their hardness. The range goes from #1 to #4, with #1 being the softest – and therefore darkest – pencil.


Contact staff writer Chanel Hill at (215) 893-5716 or at chill@phillytrib.com.

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