The Little-Known Reason Pencils Are Yellow

July 24 2017 | By Allison Meier for Artsy
The Little-Known Reason Pencils Are Yellow

(Photo by CW Pencil Enterprise)

Visitors to the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris entered the fairgrounds under the shadow of the newly-built Eiffel Tower—a gleaming marvel of wrought iron lattice that stretched almost a thousand feet into the air. Once inside, they could gawk at a massive reconstruction of the Bastille or gasp as Annie Oakley demonstrated her legendary marksmanship in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

Amidst this myriad of spectacles was a rather less dramatic—but no less influential—innovation from a Czech manufacturing company named Hardtmuth Pencil. Its latest creation was formed, as all pencils are, of a graphite core housed in a protective wooden sheath. What stood out was its color—Hardtmuth’s “luxury pencil” was painted yellow.

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