Little Feather

Since its inception there is an object that has found its way into the  hearts of every home in the civilized world.  This object has had our unquestioned loyalty for uncountable  years.   Oh! one could count the years but it is much too painful, since its demise may be at hand.  What is it?  Why it is the pencil, otherwise known as, Little Feather.  In Napoleon’s time:   La Petite Plume

The American Heritage dictionary tells us that the pencil is a narrow cylindrical implement for writing drawing or marking.  That cold definition hardly hints at the endearing qualities of the pencil.  The wood pencil comes from the Latin, pencillus which means little brush or little feather.  It would be closer to the truth to call the pencil, divine friend.

The ancient Greeks and Romans began using pieces of lead as pencils before the birth of Christ.  Interestingly enough–bread was used to erase the light lead markings.  In the mid fifteen hundreds the English determined that graphite was more suitable than lead.  In the sixteen hundreds, the German’s enclosed the graphite in wood.

Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned, Nicolas Conte’ to develop a substitute for graphite because of a shortage of graphite.  Suddenly one’s respect for Little Feather is heightened.   Can you not hear Napoleon bellowing,  “Stop the War.”  “We are out of pencils.”    Well,  Conte’, did carry out the commission and the war continued.    Conte’ developed the pencil making system that we still use today.  Conte’ found a way  of binding powdered graphite by mixing  it with clay.  He determined the more clay that was used the harder the pencil.  By 1846 the pencil had reached a high degree of status.  Status for a pencil was having many coats of varnish.

Now let us compare in some small ways the comparison of Little Feather to the Wonderful Wiley Wireless (Drones, Smart Phones, etc. etc. etc.)  I remind you that unlike the new WWW, Wonderful Wiley Wirelss–  Little Feather (pencil) can be  used for fidgeting when uncomfortable in many situations.  One can put many pencils in one’s shirt pocket to have that really prepared or neurotic look.  There is more.  One can roll a pencil across the desk or boardroom table.  Try it.  Children and adults alike seem to derive much satisfaction from this activity.  Sticking a pencil on one’s ear  gives an efficient, busy look.  Now for a really dynamic gesture, sharpen your pencil, then fill your chest with air and stride back to your desk.  This will convince everyone, including self, that a fresh, determined beginning is at hand.  Let us not forget that the pencil is equipped to withstand our chewing on it ( oh, yes, this is done).  This writer discourages this practice because if you later wish to assume a pontifical look by using the pencil as a pointer with tell tale signs,  it will leave the audience or class with a less than enhancing view of you the speaker.  I ask you, is the mighty new, WWW, Wonderful Wiley Wireless, as friendly and as multi- useful a companion as our Little Feather(?)

Little Feather, our pencil, has scribed everything from doodling to poetry and even Einstein’s theories.  Consider this.  At any given moment in our recent past, there were hoards of persons standing with phone in hand shouting,  “My Kingdom for a pencil.”  The pen might be mightier than the sword but Little Feather, the pencil, has been our comfortable and indispensable companion over time.

We say farewell to Little Feather.  Ah! ’tis  a new a new day  and a new way to record and communicate and that is the,  Wonderful Wiley Wireless.  The WWW has now become our new constant companion.  …but don’t forget to look up.  You might see me!



~ by mosswood on August 17, 2012.

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