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derwent graphic pencils
derwent graphic pencils

Borrowdale 1560

The modern graphite pencil was first produced in Cumberland now Cumbria, England.

The pure graphite was discovered in 1500 near Keswick after a violent storm that had up rooted several trees. Shepherds checking their livestock found a black material under these trees tangled in the roots.
Pure Graphite
Pure Graphite

Looking like coal they tried using it for fuel, but it did not burn. But it did mark their hands and so they used it for marking their sheep. They called it plaumbago (lead ore).

Soon it was discovered this graphite made an excellent replacement for lead that was used for writing. A cottage industry grew up sawing and shaping the graphite into rods and wrapping it with string. This proved messy and the pencils would break easily, so it was later encased in wood. The modern pencil was born!
Cumberland Pencil Van
Cumberland Pencil Van

Via Flemish traders, the quality of Cumberland graphite spread quickly to artists in Italy. This culminated in the establishment of the first pencil factory, which became the Cumberland Pencil Company in 1916.

Cumberland pencils were used to create Raymond Briggs's The Snowman.

It remains the only large-scale deposit of pure solid graphite ever found.

Pencil museum
The emblem of Rule Britannia
In History
  • 18 February 1871.
    On this day 148 years ago Harry Brearley was born
  • 06 February 1804.
    This month 215 years ago the world lost Joseph Priestley
  • 10 February 1912.
    This month 107 years ago the world lost Joseph Lister
  • CT Scan. 100 years ago 28 August 1919 Godfrey Hounsfield was born
  • 16 February 1834.
    This month 185 years ago the world lost Lionel Lukin
  • 05 February 1790.
    This month 229 years ago the world lost William Cullen
  • 21 February 1741.
    This month 277 years ago the world lost Jethro Tull
  • 19 February 1927.
    This month 91 years ago the world lost Herbert Akroyd Stuart
  • 08 February 2017.
    This month 2 years ago the world lost Peter Mansfield
  • 17 February 2011.
    This month 8 years ago the world lost Ron Hickman
  • 14 February 1779.
    This month 240 years ago the world lost Captain Cook
  • 26 February 1884.
    This month 134 years ago the world lost Alexander Wood
  • 23 February 1965.
    This month 53 years ago the world lost Stan Laurel
Who Invented?
Who Discovered?
Who Created?
The History of..

TAGS:, Pencil, graphite, cumberland, used