Franklin-Christoph, maker of fine writing implements and stationery have a new addition to their lineup: the 1901 Wood Art pencil. It is Franklin-Christoph's first foray into pencils, so let's see how they did. To being with, these pencils are made by Musgrave (as all custom US made pencils are) and are made of, as per their website, "premium selections of basswood." These pencils have a matte black finish with white and light grey lettering with a silver metal tip. They come in a green box that has been embossed with the FC logo and on the tab there are the designation of the different grades you get with the set. You have the option to buy the variety pack which contains B, HB, 2B, and 4B or a pack of four with just one grade. Each pack retails for $5.75 which brings it to around $1.44 a pencil. Are they worth it? Short answer: no. Let's dive in:
The first thing I do when I open up a new package of pencils is take a look at the cores. A quality pencil will have a centered core. Not all of these pencils had centered cores.
Next, I take a look at the packaging and rest of the pencil. The green box they come in is nice, but the finish of the pencil leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the issues: the text is not stamped into the barrel and is off center. It seems as though this is an issue with the B pencils since even the promo picture on Franklin-Christoph's own website reflects this. Also, the matte finish is blotchy in some parts and is not evenly painted. Yes, this stuff is nitpicky, but these are not a Musgrave or budget pencil-branded project. These are $1.44 a pencil.
As you can see, there are many issues with the finish of the pencil, but how does it perform? Pretty good, actually. The grades are pretty true and the eraser on the traditional pencils they offer works great (shock coming from Musgrave, right?). They all sharpened beautifully and had respectable point retention for their respective grades.
OK. So let me just say this: if you want a pencil that writes, buy these. If you want something that lives up to the brand that is selling these pencils, don't buy these. I am not sure what I had expected from Franklin Christoph. I am not a fountain pen user and I am generally broke, so I do not use any of their other products. Just from browsing their website, it appears that they pride themselves on quality and good aesthetics. These pencils lack the latter. I am not sure who to blame here? Did Musgrave drop the ball in the manufacturing process? Did someone from FC approve this like we see them today? Either way, this disappointing offering from FC is a bit forgivable. Wooden pencils are not their thing. I can cut them some slack there. What Franklin Christoph should have done was had some nice silver foil stamping on these pencils. I get that it is more expensive to produce pencils like that, but it would have produced a better product for their brand. Also, people will buy these. The non-pencil nerds that don't have the eye for things that we have will love them since they do what they are intended to do. For me, I'll pass.
**These pencils were provided free of charge from Franklin Christoph for review purposes. My opinions are my own and in no way influenced by Franklin Christoph (obviously).