Whoa — it’s an actual pencil review! I haven’t reviewed an actual pencil since October, with the Baron Fig Archer. Of course, with the new renaissance of pencil blogs, you don’t need me anymore — I’m talking about impassioned publications like Lead Fast and, of course, the re-launch of Pencil Talk, which I’m very excited about..
However, there are some fantastic pencils out there that I want to explore.
Sometime last year, one of my favorite places on earth, CW Pencils, started selling a series of pencils from Viarco. They’re a manufacturer in Portugal that often flies under the radar here in the US (though among our pencil community, people are getting hip to them).
Making pencils since 1907, Viarco is a small but quality pencil brand that makes good quality HBs like the Premium 2001, or the Desenho 250 H (a dark, smooth pencils that CWP recommended for left-handers).
This series, the Viarco Vintage Collection, has six varieties of boxed dozens:
- 1951: multicolored HB hex pencils with white stripes on the edges
- 2000: Pearlized multicolored HB hex pencils with a bright stripe and cap on the end
- 3000: Similar to the 2000s, but round instead of Hex
- 3500: Red HB hex pencils with white stripes on the edges
- 272D: Blue copying pencils with violet ink (originally used to transfer ink to other paper decades ago
What’s really remarkable about this collection is not how exceptional the pencils are in themselves — it’s the level of detail to which they recreated the originals. From the packaging to the paint on the barrel, they look incredibly similar.
As a fan of vintage aesthetics (I know, I’m a dirty hipster), I knew I wanted to try them. But, at $15 a dozen, I knew I didn’t want to pick them all up. I went for the multicolored packs; the 3000 and the 1951 sets.
I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how well they write — I honestly don’t think that matters as much. They’re not particularly remarkable. But they’re not terrible either. I would say they write dark and maybe a little on the scratchy side, like a General’s Cedar Point #2 or a Baron Fig Archer. The 1951 seemed to be the scratchiest of the two, though they were really similar. It really felt like what I usually expect a vintage pencil to feel like, if that makes any sense.
Construction and Aesthetics
It really seems like they went all out to replicate the vintage feel. The paint looks like it was really painted on, and the foil stamp on the barrel feels like it was really stamped — the 3000, for instance, had a deeper imprint in the center of the stamp than the edges, like like a round pencil barrel would dictate. The end-dip is just a little uneven, like maybe it was dipped by hand.
I actually have no idea if that’s the case — if Viarco actually dipped and stamped their pencils by hand. But if they don’t, they replicated it perfectly.
The cores are perfectly centered in the barrel — a look through both sets of 12 pencils shows that that’s the case for all of them. And the wood looks like it’s real cedar — it’s a bit darker and more fragrant than many modern pencils.
I’d love to get hold of an actual vintage Viarco so I can compare the two. If I can do that, I’ll report back here.
Meanwhile, check these out for yourself! CW Pencils sells all six varieties for $15 a boxed dozen, or if you can’t make up your mind, you can just buy the full set for $75.