- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (November 10, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679734155
- ISBN-13: 978-0679734154
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance 1st Edition
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Like most other human artifacts, the common pencil, made and sold today by the millions, has a long and complex history. Henry Petroski, who combines a talent for fine writing with a deep knowledge of engineering and technological history, examines the story of the pencil, considering it not only as a thing in itself, but also as an exemplar of all things that are designed and manufactured.
Petroski ranges widely in time, discussing the writing technologies of antiquity. But his story really begins in the early modern period, when, in 1565, a Swiss naturalist first described the properties of the mineral that became known as graphite. Petroski traces the evolution of the pencil through the Industrial Revolution, when machine manufacture replaced earlier handwork. Along the way, he looks at some of pencil making's great innovators--including Henry David Thoreau, the famed writer, who worked in his father's pencil factory, inventing techniques for grinding graphite and experimenting with blends of lead, clay, and other ingredients to yield pencils of varying hardness and darkness. Petroski closes with a look at how pencils are made today--a still-imperfect technology that may yet evolve with new advances in materials and design. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
This delightful history of the lowly pencil offers a mind-sharpening look at the intersection of engineering, economics and culture. Illustrated.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Having said that, there is much to enjoy here: great stories about mining Borrowdale "plumbago," the creativeness of Thoreau as pencilmaker, the 1847 discovery by Jean Pierre Alibert of a vast deposit of graphite on the border of Siberia and China, and the trials and successes of Armand Hammer's pencil making venture for the Soviet Union. "Appendix B," a discussion of Petroski's own pencil collecting, is as entertaining as anything in the book.
Book was new as far as I could tell … seemly untouched. Shipping time was excellent.