Copy pencil

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A black or violet pencil used to make the master copy for the Hectograph, or spirit, duplicating process. Copy pencils were first patented in England in 1874. They contained a water soluble binder such as Gum arabic or Animal glue, blended with an intense dye, like aniline or Logwood. Graphite and Kaolin were added for body. The ingredients were pressed into a thin shaft and surrounded with wood. Copy pencils make marks that are water-soluble and bleed when wet. For the duplication process, a reverse image was prepared using the copy pencil then the master sheet was fastened to a roller and pressed onto copy sheets that had been slightly moistened with an alcohol-based solution. A small amount of dye was transferred to the copy.

Synonyms and Related Terms

copying pencil; aniline pencil; hectographic pencil; ink pencil; manifolding pencil; Kopierstift (Deut.); Mephisto; Mandarin


  • Many of the dyes are not lightfast.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in water, acetone, ethanol, toluene, glycerol.

Resources and Citations

  • B.Rhodes, "Copy Pencil" in Media & Techniques of Works of Art on Paper, New York University, 1999
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998
  • Website:

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