War Drawing Pencils / Utility Pencils / WWII Pencils – Part 2

This is Part 2 of 6

You can go back to Part 1 HERE


Turning to War Drawing pencils, we can see that the grade list has been expanded.  Again they can be round or hex, but I don’t recall seeing a single example of a round War Drawing.  If you’ve got one, let me know!

The Hardtmuth examples below are interesting because they don’t technically say the country of origin as stipulated by Part 1.  The company name actually includes the words ‘Great Britain’ and so this appears to have been enough to qualify. Most, if not all of Hardtmuth War Drawing pencils were made in the Chard factory (more on this to come!) Unlike the Utility pencils, which were essentially HB, the War Drawing pencils were required to state the grade on each pencil: Most makers moved to a simplified name stamp, however, Chambers elected to keep their script logo on the pencils. The example below from Royal Sovereign appears on face value to not include the grade or ‘War Drawing’ stamping.  However, it is actually stamped on the alternate side with this detail; an unusual move for pencils of this type Also note the made in England, so we know that they were not produced in the Welsh Royal Sovereign factory which opened in 1946. Next up we have the requirements on coloured pencils: I have numerous examples of each colour and maker in the collection so I’ve just scattered a selection of examples throughout this post.  I have no clue on the numbers produced for each colour, but I’ve found that yellow and brown seem to be the least common these days.

The Direction also sets out the rules for both coping and china marking/wax pencils.  As we can see, they were very much restricted.  Cumberland Pedigree coping pencils, for example, came in numerous colours and grades, but during this period all anyone could make was hard grade and violet copy. Owing the the fact that they were only allowed a single colour copy, the pencils didn’t need to state this on the barrel.  Personally I probably would have still mentioned ‘black copy violet’ because not many people will have actually read the rules. The ‘superior copying’ below are an interesting one.  On 1 January 1948 the ‘big 4’ railway companies were nationalised to form ‘British Railways’ as a result of the Transport Act 1947.  Given this nationalisation, I’m guessing that it was unnecessary for the maker to be displayed on the pencil, yet it could still be classed as a utility copying.  

If you look at Stationery Office pencils, the maker is rarely displayed once the numbering system was added. This particular example is ‘black copy violet’ and ‘hard’ grade, so it seems pretty likely that this is a wartime regulated pencil, even if ‘superior copying’ sounds like a slight bend in the rules. The two Stationery Office pencils below are interesting.  On first blush they look like they should be wartime Utility copying pencils, however, they don’t appear to follow all the rules.  If we accept that the maker doesn’t need to be shown on a Stationery Office pencils, the pencils still are black copy blue (which is against the rules).  Further, the 48-29 is a soft copier – also not allowed. So are they wartime pencils or not? Well possibly. There is a chance that Government pencils had more leeway on what was allowed.  Seems a bit unfair (if unsurprising), but then again if they were needed for specific wartime tasks, I can see why the exceptions were allowed.

The other option (and I need to work out when the numbering system started to be sure), is that these are actually post-war Stationery Office pencils and the Government just elected to retain the simple style to keep the costs down.  Therefore, there is a chance (albeit a slim one) that these post-date the regulations.

The final section of Part II sets out the rules for wax pencils and slips (slips being leads for propelling pencils).  I don’t really collect leads, so I don’t have any examples for this post.  Handy to have the information for reference anyway. I’m on the hunt for the yellow Utility Wax pencil to complete the set of colours.  If you happen to have one spare I’d love to hear from you!

On Friday 29 May 1942, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported the restrictions.  Not a considerable amount of information in the report at this stage:yorkshire eve post 29 may 1942Joseph Egerton, a smaller British brand also produced Utility models, but I don’t recall seeing them produce War Drawing expanded range. I found this letter to the Yorkshire Post (1 June 1942) mildly entertaining.  A reader actually took the time to respond to the reports that pencils were being controlled in the UK to remind everyone that this wasn’t just happing at home.  A nice example of wartime stiff upper lip.

This post is mainly about the wartime pencils produced in the UK, but given that it’s always more fun to include a few more pencil pictures, I’ve dug a few German examples out of my collection to compare what was going on there.
The box is a much more simplistic colour scheme than the traditional 9000 series Fabers, so I think it would be safe to assume that Germany had similar packaging and paper salvage restrictions during this time as the UK.Round or hex, it doesn’t seem to matter too much: The Lyra at the top of the next picture is one of the only examples I could come across with blind stamping, all the rest are a mix of blind with paint or paint straight on the barrel:




4 thoughts on “War Drawing Pencils / Utility Pencils / WWII Pencils – Part 2

Add yours

  1. Hi,

    Interesting articles. I can see your asking people to reach out re: utility wax pencils. I have 3 x one in brown, yellow and black. I also have the case slip but not the ‘drawer’. I also have about 30 utility pencils in various colours. Drop me an email if I can help.



    1. Hi Gareth
      Thanks for your comment. Id like to chat to you about what you have. Could you drop me a message via the ‘contact me’ form and i can speak to you over email?


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