Around fourteen billion pencils are produced each year. Amazingly, the way they’re made has barely changed since the sixteenth century. In fact, people have used pencils in one form or another for millennia. Yet when it comes to the world’s largest pencil and the biggest pencil ever made, these astonishing examples take the humble pencil to a whole new level.
The pencils we recognise today are thanks in part to an error of sorts. In 1564, a massive deposit of graphite was found in the Lake District town of Borrowdale and, mistaking it for lead, it was cut into thin strips, wrapped tightly with twine and called a lead pencil. Even today we refer to them as lead pencils even though pencils have never contained lead.
By the end of the sixteenth century new techniques evolved which involved hollowing out a thin tube of wood and inserting a shaft of graphite down the middle. This was how pencils were made then, and remains more or less how pencils are made today, albeit a little more mechanical and at a slightly faster rate than making them by hand.
In fact the biggest pencil in the world was made in almost exactly the same way as the sixteenth century version, it’s just far, far larger. Here’s the list of the world’s biggest pencils.
Yellow is the Colour
Length: 7.91 metres | Weight: 446.3 kg | Made: 2001
The small town of Keswick in Cumbria is home to the Derwent Pencil Museum. In May 2001, they unveiled a contender for the world’s largest pencil. At least the world’s largest colouring pencil. The yellow pencil was the brainchild of technical manager Barbara Murray as a marketing gimmick to attract more people to the museum. It worked! Today, they welcome over 80,000 visitors a year.
The Casey Illinois’ No. 2 Pencil
Length: 9.9 metres | Weight: 226.7 kg | Made: 2002
Casey, Illinois, is famous for its huge roadside attractions. Among other big builds is a massive pencil. It may not be the world’s biggest pencil but it comes close. It’s inscribed with a bible verse – Proverbs 3:3, Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. It was so sharp it was sheathed in a plastic cone to stop tourists from hurting themselves!
The Faber-Castell Giant 9000 Pencil
Length: 19.8 metres | Graphite Core Weight: 599.6 kg |
Founded in 1761, Faber-Castell is one of the world’s biggest pencil manufacturers with 8,000 staff and 2020 revenues of over half a billion Euros. In 2002 this leading pencil manufacturer produced a giant version of their classic hexagonal 9000 pencil. At the time, it was the biggest pencil in the world. It was made from native Malaysian wood and a German graphite core and was displayed in a huge glass case at the Faber-Castell offices in Malaysia.
The Sri Chinmoy Birthday Pencil
Length: 23.23 metres | Weight: 98.4 tonnes | Made: 2007
The world’s largest pencil was made in August 2007 in New York to commemorate the 76th birthday of Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual teacher who moved from Bangladesh to the US in the 1960s. The biggest pencil ever made included a 76cm eraser and a graphite core weighing over two tonnes. The outer surface used almost 200 litres of paint and it weighed the equivalent of 1,900,000 standard-sized pencils.
The Longest Pencil in the World
Length: 1,091.99 metres | Weight: | Made: 2017
To celebrate the opening of their new factory in France, pen manufacturer Bic made the longest pencil in the world, measuring over a kilometre in length! It was made using a graphite core wrapped in recycled polystyrene so it could bend. The pencil was held aloft by over 130 employees and volunteers.
The previous holder of the longest pencil in the world record was German stationery manufacturer Staedtler, who made a pencil measuring 459.97 metres in 2015. It was made of a proprietary composite material of wood and plastic and the record attempt involved 110 employees.