The oldest pencil in the world, dating to 1630. Collection of Faber-Castell.
Our pencil logo
The pencil is a universal symbol of education.
AccountantsCentral.com wants de-mystify accounting and important business concepts for those who find they are running businesses, but don’t have the business management knowledge, often numbers-based, they need.
Our stubby pencil logo is a hat-tip to one of the oldest means of recording data, sums, and other important information.
If you can’t record it, you can’t compare it.
The story of the pencil
In Roman days, scribes used a stylus made of lead to leave a faint mark on papyrus.
The word “pencil” is derived from the old French word pincel, meaning a small paintbrush, and from the Latin penicillus, meaning a small brush used for writing.
Centuries later, in the early 1500s, graphite produced a darker line and an enormous deposit was discovered in Borrowdale Parish, Cumbria, England. This particular deposit of graphite was extremely pure and solid, and it could easily be sawn into sticks. This remains the only large-scale deposit of graphite ever found in this solid form. Even when wrapped with string, the graphite sticks were still too brittle and broke easily. A holder was required.
An Italian couple named Simonio and Lyndiana Bernacotti made what are likely the first blueprints for the modern, wood-encased pencil, sometime around 1560. Two halves were carved out, a graphite stick was inserted in the middle, and the halves were glued together.
Meanwhile, over in Germany, companies experimented with a mixture of powdered graphite, sulphur, and binding agents. Nuremberg was the birthplace of the first mass-produced pencils in 1662. Spurred by Faber-Castell (established in 1761), Lyra, Steadtler and other companies, an active pencil industry developed throughout the 19th century industrial revolution.
French chemist Nicholas Jacques Conté, working in Napoleon’s army, received a patent in 1795 for the modern process for making pencil leads by mixing powdered graphite and clay, forming sticks, and hardening them in a furnace.
By the late 1850s, both the Germans and the Americans had figured out an important innovation (and the subject of a patent infringement lawsuit): how to attach an eraser to the end of a pencil. You could change your mind—and change the information.
Although CPA students write the UFE on computers and accountants use Excel spreadsheets to capture financial, performance, and comparative information, there are still times when a pencil comes in handy for cocktail napkin or back-of-the-envelope calculations for those “Aha!” moments.