Do you have a favourite pencil?

I found this old friend – thought lost – yesterday evening, while looking for something else. It’s my favourite pencil! Well, I’m a writer; what can I say? Actually, maybe it’s my second-favourite.

How about you? Is it just me, or do other people have favourite pens or pencils?

This is a beauty. It’s a vintage Conté Criterium, cast aluminium mechanical pencil, loaded with a 2mm 4B Staedtler lead. This itself was a replacement for a vintage Bic Criterium (found in the deepest recesses of an old stationery shop in Vence, France, ca. 2000) of near-identical design, with cast body, milled grip, etc. although the Bic version – should you be lucky enough to find one – comes unpolished, with a brass cone and unrounded corners (and is thus, to my eye at least, marginally more beautiful).

Both the Bic and latterly the Conté have accompanied me on numerous research trips to the British Library (where, as you probably know, the reading rooms have a ‘pencils only’ policy) and to other archives and collections, and have been used to annotate and correct the manuscripts and proofs of every book I’ve written, from Foxy-T onwards.

This Conté Criterium came from a stationery shop in Ukraine, via eBay!


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