Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hold That Thought -- If You Can

Engineering's Poet Laureate Henry Petroski in The Pencil,* quoting and commenting on an 1897 Century Sears, Roebuck and Co. ad for a pencil with a triangular cross-section:

''This shape prevents the fingers becoming cramped while writing and also the possibility of their rolling from the desk."

...Most writers do not worry about their fingers rolling from the desk....

354 pages (not including bibliography) on the history, technology and philosophy of the common pencil and its myriad creators, refiners, producers and users. Utterly fascinating. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you should head on over to the Amazon link at Tam's and pick up a copy!
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* Not to be confused with Leonard Read's libertarian (and far shorter) essay, I, Pencil. Have you read it?

7 comments:

Turk Turon said...

My favorite part of The Pencil is the description of the measures that the British took to make sure that their "strategic reserves" of pencil graphite did not fall into the hands of the Germans.

Rev. Paul said...

I suspect the "fingers rolling from the desk" part applies only to graduates of the Edward Scissorhands School of Writing and Horticulture.

wv: "nohype" ... heh.

Crucis said...

I had several triangular pens and pencils while I was in the AF. Aircraft, like ships at sea, aren't known for being stable platforms.

rickn8or said...

Crucis--
I hate to think what the gummint paid for those "special-purpose" pens and pencils.

Charles Pergiel said...

Cool.

Crucis said...

Rickn8or, the gubmint didn't spend a dime. I bought'em at a local office supply store.

staghounds said...

That was the first "book about one thing" I ever read.