A Dozen Pencils: Haruki Murakami and the Blackwing Volumes 811s

One of life’s greatest satisfactions in life for me as both someone who loves stationery, and as someone who makes a living off trying to convince other people that stationery is still, you know, a thing, is when there are references to stationery in pop culture: when someone uses a fountain pen in a movie, and you force everyone to wait while you rewind 15 seconds and try to freeze it so you can identify the pen; when you read an article about your favourite author or artist’s writing tools; and of course, when stationery makes an appearance in a book I’m reading.

Here is an excerpt from the great Haruki Murakami about pencils and correspondence and how the tools can be just what you need.

Also I’ve got a dozen pencils, all sharpened and laid out in a row. They’re brand-new. I just bought them at a stationery store – especially for writing to you (not that I’m trying to make you feel grateful or anything: just-sharpened brand-new pencils are really nice, don’t you think?).
-The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

How lovely to read about the visiting of a stationery shop as an ordinary thing, like a trip to a cafe, and the tiny momentary ritual and lovely importance of being prepared with a dozen pencils. A dozen pencils, all sharpened and laid out in a row.

Palomino Blackwing Volume 811

Spring has arrived, and so have the latest Blackwing Volumes. We couldn’t be more excited to finally have the Blackwing Volumes 811 in stock – if only for a short time, by the look of how they’re already flying out the door. Volume 811 is The Library Pencil.

It features the firm graphite, the same as in the 602, with a pink eraser. The number 811 refers to the location of Maya Angelou and American Poetry in the Dewey Decimal System of organization of books in libraries. Maya Angelou! What a coincidence, she is up on our wall. Oh, how the stars align in the stationery world.*

The green colour (there’s actually a gradient from a lighter green at the tip to a more emerald green towards the eraser) is inspired by the iconic green lamps that are seen at old school libraries, like banker’s lamps, and the pencils are also glow in the dark. The gold ferrule is also a nice touch, matching the stand and trim of those old lamps.

Of course I can’t resist a glow in the dark pencil, but what I love the most is that this pencil is a tribute to libraries. You all know how much I love public libraries in general and the Toronto Public Library in particular.** I mean, how could I possibly resist a pencil, inspired by and celebrating libraries?? –from where, I note, I borrowed and read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for the first time. Libraries, community, story-telling, knowledge and wisdom, all in a pencil.

Palomino Blackwing Volume 811
Palomino Blackwing Volume 811 Masterpiece Sharpener Toronto Canada
2-step Masterpiece Sharpener
Palomino Blackwing Volume 811
Palomino Blackwing Volume 811 Masterpiece Sharpener

A dozen pencils. Just what I need for this spring.

*I think my favourite work by Angelou is Mom & Me & Mom, her memoir on her difficult and transformative relationship with her mother. The audiobook, read by the author, is also excellent.

**One of my top ten personal favourite blog posts.

4 Comments

  1. Perfect. I love Haruki Murakami and read his latest novel, Killing Commendatore, at the beginning of this year. My ‘local’ pen shop is an hour’s drive away – doesn’t sound much but difficult when you don’t drive – and the best department store in my home city has moved some stationery up to the third floor leaving its nice pen counters on the ground floor, as if to suggest that nice pens are jewellery and have no connection with paper products.

    • wonderpens

      I have Killing Commendatore on hold at the library! I’m very much looking forward to it. It can be so tough when places you’d like to visit in person are difficult to get to; pens and paper are things that are nice to hold in your hand to see what they’re like. Each visit is all the more special, perhaps! 🙂

  2. Rosemary

    My box of these Blackwings arrived last week and the fact that they glow in the dark is too cool. I gave the first one out of the box to my 10-year old daughter (since I’ve learned from you, Liz, that children need quality tools too), and she immediately took it into a dark closet to confirm. She’s pretty excited to use it in the daytime but especially in the dark for secret notes.

    • wonderpens

      Yes! I find it’s a way to get children excited about writing and how special writing or drawing can be, as well as giving them something “precious” that’s theirs. Caleb gets one out of my box of each of the special editions, and I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to Naomi (1.5 yrs) getting old enough to want her own, or not. Hope your daughter enjoys it!

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