You’d never know it from those orange #2’s you used in school, but a great pencil can be a magical thing. It turns simple note-taking into a charcoal sketch, with darker or thicker lines depending on how firm your grip is and how fast you’re scanning the page. It’s not just a pencil; it’s a lead paintbrush.
For those who are extremely, embarrassingly serious about these things, there’s a clear favorite: the Palomino Blackwing 602, a legendary soft-wax model tragically discontinued in 1998, and sorely missed ever since. Devotees included everyone from John Steinbeck to Stephen Sondheim, and in the 13 years since they stopped being made, 602s have built up a sturdy cult following…and no small eBay presence.
The appeal can be a bit confusing to non-pencil snobs, but the slogan says it all: “Half the pressure, twice the speed.” The lead here is unusually soft, so you can make your mark by just grazing the page. And if you happen to work with any lead-minded creatives, you can count on a few lustful glances. Now, to find an artisanal sharpener…
We can always use a little more idiosyncrasy in our wardrobe.
So we were glad to see this cotton handkerchief come down the transom from Lyonstate. It’s printed with a young girl’s letter from camp circa 1920. (Sample: “I need some stationary. I have nearly written it all out.”) But the real point is the classic blue-on-white color scheme, which should match with just about anything you find yourself wearing.
And while it’s a little too big to use as a pocket square, it should cut a pretty fine figure the next time you need to mop your brow.
As we are occasionally lax in pointing out, a real sense of personal style goes way beyond knowing what to buy. Consider, for instance, the world of personalized letterheads, as compiled here. Our favorite so far is this one from street-art saint Keith Haring—it sums up his mix of business sense and childlike enthusiasm just about perfectly—but there’s plenty more where that came from, ranging from vintage woodblock illustrations to minimal celebrity signatures. It’s a good idea, and with fewer and fewer non-electronic letter writers left around, it’s only getting better.
Letter-writing seems to be going the way of the videotape, but there’s still a certain gentlemanly charm to a handwritten note on a piece of fine card stock. Especially once you get the Etsy crowd involved…
This card comes from Old School Stationers, an Oregon brand that’s made their name on screenprinted stock and anachronistic designs. Now all you need is a few well-composed bon mots and a stamp.