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The story of BNP

In 1982 I was in the seventh grade attending Farquhar Middle School in Olney, Maryland. It was around this time, for one reason or another, I began looking at pencils a little differently than other kids did. Discovering new brands was exciting to me, and when I came across a model I hadn’t yet seen I couldn’t help but ask, what’s the name on that pencil? Look at that, it’s a Ruwe Heath. And this one is a General’s Badger. Ooh, and that one is an Eagle Black Warrior!

I was hooked. And as they say, the rest is history.

My pencil collection started small, and in the early years it grew slowly but steadily. It didn’t matter whose house we were visiting, I searched through every desk drawer and pencil cup like an explorer hunting for buried treasure. I loved visiting my grandparents in western Pennsylvania, as they had lots of old friends living in old homes representing endless pencil search-and-rescue missions. On one such mission I got caught by my granny’s friend who, needless to say, was surprised by my interest in pencils. She gave me my first-ever Dixon’s Ticonderoga with yellow painted ferrule, a pre-WWII pencil just sitting there in a cup!

Fast forward to the year 2000. After living in Oregon for a number of years and starting a family, we moved back to Maryland for a teaching job (both my wife and I are school teachers). During the move I found my old box of pencils and soon thereafter discovered eBay. Never in my life had I met another pencil collector, but suddenly I was meeting giants in the pencil collecting world. People like Doug Martin, Osman Gurtunka, and Fred J. von Preissig. Fred later started grouping pencils into categories, and Doug had one of the first pencil collector websites I had ever seen. These and other collectors inspired me to start my own online collection.

With the help of a friend back in Oregon, we launched BNP 1.0 in 2005. Almost fourteen years later, in January 2019, we launched the website you are looking at now — with a responsive interface and powerful search features. (There’s a whole story about that here.) contains most, but not all, of my 8,000+ unique pencil models representing 190 brands produced worldwide. The majority of my collection is vintage (i.e. at least 20 years old), some are new, and some are bonafide antiques (like this old timer.) With the very rare exception, the pencils you’ll find here are identified by their brand names. I don’t collect advertising or promotional pencils unless they are stamped with a manufacturer’s brand.

As I buy and trade with other collectors I’ll often end up with duplicates. These are the pencils you’ll find listed here for sale.

Almost all of the companies that produced these fine writing instruments are, sadly, no longer in business. But their stories live on, and the history behind some of the brands is quite fascinating. Tales of rich family dynasties, innovative entrepreneurs, mergers and acquisitions, lead paint lawsuits, and yes, even at least one murder mystery.

There are, no doubt, dozens of brands and hundreds of pencils yet to be discovered. But I’ll put them right here when I do.

Here’s to great pencil finds and new pencil friends.

Bob Truby
Middle school art teacher now living in Bradenton, Florida, USA