View Full Version : Bone Pencil & Refils

February 1st, 2014, 04:40 AM
On a whim I snagged this bone (maybe ivory but I doubt it) pencil. It came int he case shown. On the inside of the case lid is written "NESTLE." The pencil is reasonably nice and holds one lead.
But, the lead I measured at 1.83 mm (.072 in) and I have never seen a lead with that diameter. I have seen a few 2mm colored leads, and plenty of 1.5mm leads but not this weird size.

1) Does anybody know where I could hunt down some replacement leads?
2) Does anybody have a suggestion how to clean the bone?


February 5th, 2014, 08:07 AM
I restore antiques for a living, I would advise a against any cleaning other then a gentle wipe down with a damp cloth. Be careful not to snag any sharp bits that are near the cracks. You could give a light coating of Renaissance wax to discourage further dirt and stains. I know of no source for that size lead (graphite) but you can reduce the diameter of a larger piece. I would cut a groove in a small block of wood, 2mm wide and 1.8 mm deep. Set the lead into the groove and place it on some fine sand paper, then roll it back and forth until the wood block reaches the sandpaper and you should be good. FYI Renaissance wax is a specific brand name wax that is used by many restorers and conservationists to preserve antiques of all sorts. You can even use a thin coat on the metal bits to prevent rust and oxidation

Michael McNeil
May 1st, 2014, 09:23 PM
I read somewhere that many of the bone pencils were made aboard whaling ships, by crew members, from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. I do not know about the metal parts, which seem to have been commercially manufactured. I have had a few of them over the years. They can be very plain to very fancy.

May 2nd, 2014, 12:57 AM
I thought it was neat enoughto try for a steal and I am happy that I did. I have since found that 2 mm leads will work just fine so I had allowed my zeal for accuracy to limit my options. I took crackednib's advice and just gently wiped it down and put it back away.

The best part is that I have a #2 pencil freak in the office. I set my ambush and waited for one of his random comments about his #2 pencils and then out came this bad boy. My rotating horde of fountain pens are not worthy of much attention but this thing made his jaw drop. That alone was worth the admission price. Now everything else is a bonus. :)

May 20th, 2014, 02:14 AM
The pencil image u have upload made me speech less And im really interested to know about this if u can.

June 12th, 2014, 09:01 AM
Hello - nice find.

For what it's worth:

1. Replacement leads pre-standardization are a crap shoot. Besides, with the cracks in the bone you shouldn't be doing much heavy writing with it due to the risk of causing further damage, so you shouldn't need a ton of refills.

2. The hole in the middle of it probably contained a "Stanhope" device of some sort which has gone missing. Stanhopes held tiny pictures that could be viewed through the window with light shining on the other side.

3. The box may or may not have anything to do with the pencil. Unmarked examples of these were made by many independent craftsmen, and I have no idea what the "Nestle" name means on the lid.

4. As for cleaning the bone, I recommend that you don't. No harm will come from conserving it as is.