History: The History of the Pencil

Woo, I’m on a roll this week. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the history here, not being a pencil history expert myself, but this read has a lot of good words for larnin’. I’d put this in the lower-advanced spectrum, as the sentence structure isn’t over-the-top literary, but there are a ton of specialized words and proper nouns.
Learn to Read Mandarin Chinese – Simplified Character Learning Short StoriesThe tone is very encyclopedic, so, rather serious and not a lot of fun.

A couple of proper names for you:
巴罗代尔 – Borrowdale, England
乔治二世 – George the Second (English King)
法伯 – Eberhard Faber, a German chemist
孔德 – Nicolas-Jacques Conté, French scientist

Source here





Show English translation »
The history of the pencil is very long, dating back 2000 years to ancient Roman times. The pencils of that time were very crude, being nothing more than a gold cover cripping a lead stick, or even a lead block, and it really was a “lead” pen (not just in name only). Whereas the pencils we use toady are manufactured from graphite and clay, the inside doesn’t really contain lead.

Modern pencils were born in 16th Century England. In 1564, people in Borrowdale discovered a kind of black mineral called graphite. Like lead, graphite could leave marks on paper, and the marks it left were much darker than lead, thus, people called graphite “black lead”. Shepherds in the Borrowdale region commonly used graphite to mark seals on the bodies of sheep. Later, people carved lead into little strips, using them for writing and drawing. After long, the English king George the Second brought Borrowdale graphite ore back to the imperial household for the royal family’s particular use.

However, graphite strips also had their weak point: they dirty the hands, and they break easily. In 1761, German chemist Faber mixed graphite powder together with sulfer, pine resin and other things, and manufactured them as strips, which was much tougher than simple graphite, and didn’t dirty the hands as easily. At the end of the 18th century, only England and Germany were capable of producing pencils.

Later, France discovered [deposits of] graphite ore in their earth, but the ore’s quality wasn’t high, and the quantities weren’t great. French Scientist Conte mixed the ore with clay, fired it in a kiln, making a more easy to use and durable pencil wick. The amount of clay mixed with the graphite wasn’t always the same, and so the hardness of the lead [wick] also changed accordingly. We often see “B” and “HB” letters marked out on the head of the pencil, indicating hardness and light or darkness of color. “B” indicates color, H indicates hardness, therefore, “HB” indicates that hardness and darkness of the lead are both moderate, and are suitable for writing.

14 replies on “History: The History of the Pencil”

Hi, thanks very much for these readings – they are very helpful! I hope you will continue to post.

One point regarding the above translation – I believe “金属” should be translated as “metal” rather than “gold”.

ainss, this one is still hard for me, I lack plenty of vocabulary! but the word-by-word note is AWESOMLY helpful for the new vocabulary. Luckily Chinese grammar is limitated! is all about vocabulary and idioms <3

That’s amazing! So wich type do we use because theirs like 5 types right? Anyways that’s awsome because we’re going way back to the olden days! Anyways thanks once A Gain. ;)-

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