"Interview with Henry Petroski on Thoreau and Engineering" - Shared screen with speaker view
An Interview with Henry Petroski, author of "The Pencil," sponsored by The Thoreau Society with interviewer Richard Smith
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What types of wood were used in Thoreau's pencils?
On November 20, 1853, Thoreau wrote, Being put to it to raise the wind to pay for 'A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,' and having occasion to go to New York to peddle some pencils which I had made, as I passed through Boston I went to Quincy Market and inquired the price of cranberries."
I have some pencils in my collection from Harvard, Mass, that are 1820s. That maker moved to Concord afterwards.
Who was the maker?
Just found this at officemuseum.com:The Ball Pen and Paper Co., Harvard, Mass., produced pencils from 1830 until shortly before the Civil War. Based on research gathered at the Harvard Mass. Historical Society, Rich Karlowsky supplied the following information: "In 1830, Mr. [Benjamin] Ball set up shop in the Mill District of Harvard, Mass…. On one floor he manufactured paper and on the other…pencils…. John Thoreau and Benjamin Ball were producing pencils at the same time. Thoreau pencils were considered high quality because of the darker lead. Ball also produced a pencil, but it did not write as well as the Thoreau." Mr. Karlowsky acquired bundles of Ball pencils that were found in the attic of an old schoolhouse. Each bundle consists of a dozen cedar pencils with square leads, tied together with thread and with a paper label that reads "Superior Warranted Black Lead Pencils Manufactured by B. Ball, Harvard, Mass."
That description of the bundle clearly describes the bundle in my collection; thank you!
These Webinars have been wonderful!
Does anyone know if the finely ground graphite produced by the machine contributed to Thoreau’s respiratory disease?
I meant the actual HDT machine
Will any more be scheduled during July?
Yes, thank you to everyone for putting this together.