Ask The Desk: Good, Cheap Pencils


Don asks:

I read your review of the Mirado Black Warrior, where you mentioned that there were much better pencils for very little more money. Can you tell me what these would be? I work in an elementary school, where we usually stock up on gross boxes of relatively cheap pencils, so the Black Warriors have been something I pick up when they are on sale for my own stash. I am not so sure that the Black Warriors haven’t changed a bit with the various company mergers and acquisitions, but I can’t say for sure. And I just bought 12 dozen for 12 dollars on Amazon; I’m not sure why the price was so low. But I do understand that they usually sell for $3 or $3.50 a box of 12, so I know that your comparisons would be based on this price. Thanks for any information/opinions you can share.

I did a little comparison shopping but at 12 dozen for $12, that’s a hard deal to beat. However, I find the Mirado Black Warriors to be a bit dark and soft, especially for kids. offers some of the Prospector, Forest Choice and Golden Bear pencils in a gross. But they are more than twice than the sale-priced Mirados.

I also really like the General Pencil Company but their site lists only 3 doz. pencils at a time for about $24 which is much more expensive than those Mirados as well.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

So I decided I needed to consult the experts at the Erasable podcast for their insights.

Andy Welfle said:

I do think that the Black Warriors have changed a bit, for the worse, in the last few years. Of course, I really dislike Paper Mate, I think they cheapen everything they make, and when they acquire good quality brands and start putting their logo on stuff, it also accompanies standards being lowered.

But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

(Meaning: I’ve never really done any sort of comparison, so that statement is not scientific by any means.)

As for the cheapness, I’m willing to bet that if he wanted to buy in bulk, Amazon would be the way to go. I’m sure those pencils cost nothing to make, so if he’s cutting out the big-box store middleman by shopping direct on Amazon, he’s cutting out their profit needs.

I’ll defer to Tim (Wasem) on what the best pencil to buy for students might be, since he’s going through that right now, but I’d heartily recommend the Golden Bears. They’re super good quality for the price. It’s definitely still more expensive than the Mirado, but damn, they’re worth it. 😀

And Johnny Gamber said:

Hey, Comrades!
The Blackwarrior is a strange beast. While the finish, country of origin and even the wood have become…PaperMated, the core/lead is very nice. But I think Ana’s right that it might be soft for students, and office paper shreds that point.
For cheap bulk school pencils, I’d hit Walmart right now and stock up on their big boxes of USA Gold pencils, even the USA Silver. For the price and ease of getting them, they are hard to beat.
Happy Back to School!

Unfortunately, Tim was unavailable for comment. He must be busy sharpening all those Palomino HBs he’s got squirreled away.

Do you have a pressing pen, paper, pencil, ink or other stationery item issue? Use the “Ask The Desk” link in the navigation bar to send in your questions!

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