Do you know the joy of finding a paper tube printed to look like a pencil in your mail box? Sheer and complete bliss. The tube is the new Musgrave Heritage Collection “one dozen of our favorite pencils” ($12.75).
Inside the pencil tube, is an assortment of Musgrave classics like the The Bugle and the Test Scoring 100 as well as the new favorite. Tennessee Red Cedar. There are some school age classics like The Cub, The Choo-Choo and The Tot in the set too.
There are also some unique specialties like the Hermitage (red lead), the News 600 and the Unigraph F.
Finally, some lesser known pencils are included like the Ceres 909 and the Harvest 320.
My first round of tests were trying all the pencils on two kinds of paper — a smooth stock (comparable to Rhodia but its actually Profolio Oasis Notebook) and a toothier paper (similar to regular sketchbook paper). On the smoother paper, the harder pencils appeared lighter than on the toothier stock. If you use a toothier more textured paper but are looking for a lighter line, consider a harder graphite pencil. Alterntely, if you are using super smooth stocks normally, an HB or darker may be your preferred pencil.
I decided to break up the pencils into smaller sets. First up are the hex-shaped pencils. I think standard hex pencils are the most classic pencils. The Harvest 320, the Test Scoring 100 and the Tennessee Red Cedar are all HB with smooth, dark lead. I found the hex shape on the Test Scoring 100 to be the sharpest. So of the three dark, smooth hex pencils, the Tennessee Red Cedar is my absolute favorite but the Harvest 320 is a close second with its classic yellow paint. The Ceres is a harder lead option but still with a smooth lead. The Unigraph is available in a wide variety of hardnesses from 6B-6H and comes with an eraser. I received an F which is a smooth, light lead with good point retention.
Several of the pencils are wider than normal, considered jumbo pencils. According to the Musgrave web site, My-Pal 2020 is 8.5mm, the TOT is 10mm. The Choo-Choo appears to be the same diameter as the TOT and the CUB seems to be the same diameter as My-Pal. MY-Pal and the TOT don’t have erasers on the end while the Cub and the Choo-Choo both have erasers. I found the graphite in My-Pal and CUB to be a bit smoother than the wider diameter Choo-Choo and TOT. I also found the Choo-Choo and TOT to be a bit too big for my hands.
The final grouping were the odd balls: the Bugle which is a round barrel with a beautiful clear varnish on natural wood. The Hermitage which is a red pencil with an eraser. It doesn’t erase well but it writes with a good deep red color — perfect for editing or preliminary sketches. Finally, there is the News 600 which reminds me so much of the Ebony pencils we used for sketching on newsprint in life drawing classes in college. It’s a super dark, super soft graphite. If you’re looking for a great sketching pencil or the softest, darkest lead, then the News 600 is for you.
If you are just getting in to pencils, the Heritage Collection is a perfect sampler and the tube is worth the entry fee!