I have ZERO interest in these old American brands; they’re simply not aligned with what I consider to be actual mechanical pencils.
In my view, the market bifurcated around 1965, with most non-US manufacturers going the “Japan way” with smaller and smaller leads versus these American dinosaurs that stuck with low resolution, 1.18mm slabs of graphite.
The history is really neither here nor there; the issue is how eBay is now overrun with horseshit “pencils” that are nothing like the 0.7mm and smaller Japanese lineage.
It’s not even that YAJ is inherently better than eBay; it’s simply that the Japanese market never attached itself to fat-pointed pencils because they’re trash for producing intricate Japanese characters.
Anyway, this is all just a rant because I wish like hell eBay would separate the brands in the title of this post from the real brands we collect through crazy means like proxy buying services.
Anything 0.9 and above, I think of them as drawing or sketching pencils. The 1.18 pencils feel like writing with a ‘low resolution’ wood cased pencil - which, in the right time and place can be a boon for putting ideas down on paper.
Most of my art directors like sketching with sharpies - the thick strokes encourage spontaneity and letting go of ‘precision’ in order to get rough ideas out quickly. As for 2.0mm leads, they can be sharpened to a point finer than 0.2mm.
I think my acceptance of these non Japanese brands comes from my parallel interest in ballpoint pens and their history of use in my family, from my granddad, uncle, aunties and my dad. I grew up being surrounded by Parker 51, Jotter, Vector, Sheaffer Targa, Venus Drawing pencils, Staedtler Mars 2B, Noris…
It wasn’t until I was in my teens when I learned about Pilot because of the too-cool-for-skool Shaker H-515.
I’m sure there were stores that had stocks of Quicker Clickers, Rolling Writers, Sign Pens and Sharplets but I never recalled a single school mate who had a Kerry, Smash, Graphlet, etc. Pentel’s most prominent memory for me in Singapore throughout the 80s was their correction fluid with the spring loaded tip, which dethroned the Liquid Paper empire.