Lead pencil

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A soft drawing pencil. The first picture showing a lead pencil appears in a 1565 woodcut as an ornate wood tube holding a tapered lead piece. The early lead pencils contained soft metallic lead points encased in wood or bone shafts. The marks were easily erased from parchment with bread crumbs or a soft leather cloth. In the mid 19th century, graphite pencils became more popular. The shafts of graphite pencils are made from graphite mixed with clay. However, the earlier name of lead pencil transferred and, though incorrect, its use continued.

Synonyms and Related Terms

graphite pencil

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing) Comment: Modern lead pencil introduced in 1795
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986 Comment: Continued to be made until the second half of the 19th century
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998 Comment: Woodcut (1565) illustrates a lead pencil