Several months back, CW pencils announced the launch of their new quarterly subscription: The Pencil Box. The boxes were to be created by the pencils ladies of CW, and we were told that each box would include at least 3 pencils, 1 pencil accessory, 1 wild card item, and exclusive ephemera. I didn't know exactly what I would be getting myself into, but based on the belief that curating is more about the "who" than the "what," I knew that CW would create something that I wanted to be a part of.
Fast forward to June, and the ladies have now successfully delivered two pencil boxes. I thought it would be fun to take a look at everything the subscribers have received over the first half of year one, and discuss my take on what has been included. First, lets break down the first two boxes strictly by the numbers:
I loved both boxes from the moment I opened them, but as I collected the items together like this I appreciated them even more. A little of everything is included from classic to novelty, graphite to colored pencils, 2H to 8B. Surprisingly (especially based on the number of times I have ordered directly from CW), I didn't own any of the exact items from either box so far. I owned a few similar items, but certainly nothing I didn't mind owning more of in a different color or variation. Even more impressively, there were also several items that I likely could not obtain (or at least not obtain easily) had they not been included in the box (e.g. Japan store-exclusive pencils).
Favorite item in this category: Tombow Mono zero eraser
Most utilized item: Faber-Castell 9000 Sharpener (mostly for its ability to sharpen larger diameter pencils on the go)
Most unique item: Doppel-Laufer Universal 0440 Rubber Eraser
Favorite item in this category: Washi Dots (I think this was the item I was most surprised by across both boxes)
Most utilized item: You can see my first use of the Washi Dots above, but I am officially putting these in my planner for more regular use starting tomorrow
Most unique item: Reporter's Notebook- vintage in the best way possible
Favorite item in this category: Ito-ya Helvectica Pencil
Most utilized item: General Semi-Hex #1
Most unique item: Japan Gekkoso Pencil
Papermate Mongol- No getting around it. This is a cheap pencil. Surprisingly though, mine isn't that bad. I haven't had any problems others have mentioned with a shattered core. And of all vintage/ classic pencils- the Mongol range is my favorite by far. I don't know any other way they could have included a Mongol, and for me it served it's purpose. I've been hunting down the vintage version every since.
Japan Gekkoso- I am in love with this pencil. It's a mini-jumbo or jumbo natural hex with a perfect amount of thin clear lacquer and a swoon-worthy thick buttery core. This pencil is just plain fun to write and sketch with. The fact that it's a store-exclusive house-made in Japan adds even more to the appeal.
General's Semi-hex #1- This is such a good basic classic pencil. I've used mine enough to completely destroy the eraser and chew up over half the entire pencil. It's probably about time for me to get a bullet pencil, what do you think pencil people?
Tajima 2H Construction Pencil- Basically a Tombow Mono 2H, but a really cool unique variation. Don't let "construction pencil" fool you- this thing is crazy beautiful. An extra 10 points awarded for gold and black aesthetics. Let's go Purdue.
Handy-Janken- They really nailed the choice of a novelty pencils here. I'm not that into novelty, but even I had to talk myself out of buying all three variations on my recent in-person trip to CW pencils (more on that soon)! Really though, I should have gotten the other two.
Mitsibishi 9852- Japan's classic yellow pencil sure beats America's big-box yellow pencil. My favorite part of this pencil is the purple tint of the ferrule.
Magic Pencil- You just can't have enough of these things.
Caran d'ache Technograph- This isn't my favorite Caran d'ache pencil of all time, but it was still my favorite pencil in the first box. I didn't know this pencil existed before I received the box, but when I get to the end of it, I will probably get another one.
Ito-ya Helvetica- There isn't a single thing I don't like about this pencil. The eraser, the typeset, the texture, the writing experience, the color combination. In fact, I just found out it comes in four colors- so I might be in trouble.
I'm not sure what expectations I had for my pencil box subscription, but I have enjoyed the pencils, accessories, and paper goods even more than I thought I would. The amount of consideration put into the curation of the goods is easily worth the price of the admission, and that doesn't even include my very favorite thing about the boxes.
The hand-written descriptions of each box and each item and the hand-drawn postcards truly take these boxes to the next level. The insert could pass for being literally individually hand-written for each individual box. They look that good. I don't know how long I have stared at them, but I am very curious about the copying process they utilize. The post cards could be art in their own right- I would gladly purchase these separately and would love to see these prints be utilized for other items and products in the future.
I look forward to the future boxes, and highly recommend this subscription if you are into that sort of thing. If you're not up for the full subscription, they often post some of the items to their online shop after the boxes have shipped. For example, the Japan-exclusive Gekkoso pencil that I am googly eyed for is up for sale now.