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PNG images: Pencil

A pencil is a writing implement or art medium constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core inside a protective casing which prevents the core from being broken and/or from leaving marks on the user’s hand during use.

Pencil PNG images

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Pencils create marks by physical abrasion, leaving behind a trail of solid core material that adheres to a sheet of paper or other surface. They are distinct from pens, which instead disperse a trail of liquid or gel ink that stains the light colour of the paper by absorption.

Most pencil cores are made of graphite mixed with a clay binder which leaves grey or black marks that can be easily erased. Graphite pencils are used for both writing and drawing and result in durable markings: though writing is easily removable with an eraser, it is otherwise resistant to moisture, most chemicals, ultraviolet radiation, and natural aging. Other types of pencil core are less widely used, such as charcoal pencils, which are mainly used by artists for drawing and sketching. Coloured pencils are sometimes used by teachers or editors to correct submitted texts, but are typically regarded as art supplies, especially those with waxy core binders that tend to smear on paper instead of erasing. Grease pencils have a softer, crayon-like waxy core that can leave marks on smooth surfaces such as glass or porcelain.

The most common type of pencil casing is of thin wood, usually hexagonal in section but sometimes cylindrical, permanently bonded to the core. Similar permanent casings may be constructed of other materials such as plastic or paper. To use the pencil, the casing must be carved or peeled off to expose the working end of the core as a sharp point. Mechanical pencils have more elaborate casings which are not permanently bonded to the core. Instead, the casing supports a separate, mobile piece of pigment core that can be extended or retracted through the casing tip as needed; these pencil casings can be re-loaded with a new core (usually graphite) when necessary.

Prior to 1565 (some sources say as early as 1500), a large deposit of graphite was discovered on the approach to Grey Knotts from the hamlet of Seathwaite in Borrowdale parish, Cumbria, England. This particular deposit of graphite was extremely pure and solid, and it could easily be sawn into sticks. It remains the only large-scale deposit of graphite ever found in this solid form. Chemistry was in its infancy and the substance was thought to be a form of lead. Consequently, it was called plumbago (Latin for "lead ore"). Because the pencil core is still referred to as "lead", or a "lead", many people have the misconception that the graphite in the pencil is lead, and the black core of pencils is still referred to as lead, even though it never contained the element lead. The words for pencil in German (bleistift), Irish (peann luaidhe), Arabic (قلم رصاص qalam raṣāṣ), and some other languages literally mean lead pen.

The value of graphite would soon be realised to be enormous, mainly because it could be used to line the moulds for cannonballs; the mines were taken over by the Crown and were guarded. When sufficient stores of graphite had been accumulated, the mines were flooded to prevent theft until more was required.

The usefulness of graphite for pencils was discovered as well, but graphite for pencils had to be smuggled. The news of the usefulness of these early pencils spread far and wide, attracting the attention of artists all over the known world.[citation needed] Because graphite is soft, it requires some form of encasement. Graphite sticks were initially wrapped in string or sheepskin for stability. England would enjoy a monopoly on the production of pencils until a method of reconstituting the graphite powder was found in 1662 in Italy. However, the distinctively square English pencils continued to be made with sticks cut from natural graphite into the 1860s. The town of Keswick, near the original findings of block graphite, still manufactures pencils, the factory also being the location of the Cumberland Pencil Museum. The meaning of "graphite writing implement" apparently evolved late in the 16th century.