Making a Lyra (Fan) Out Of Me in Milan

A rainy day in Milan meant there’d be no visiting the Duomo

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Instead the afternoon was put to good use attending to instruments, which were taking a bit of beating passing through many less-than-sensitive hands.

I know next to nothing about the Lyra Lead Pencil Company, whose origins date back to the early 1800s. They are another of the venerable Bavarian pencil-making houses, with a rich history and a large variety of products. One of those products is No. 4326 in their catalog:

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It’s a telescoping pocket pencil with pencil refills:

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The barrel has a ring attached and seems to be finished in a burgundy-colored enamel, and it weighs next to nothing:

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It’s similar in form to any number of pocket pencils made by the Faber houses (especially that of Johann Faber). What’s surprising is its size:

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It’s small. Very small. Small to the point of being unusable. I don’t have terribly large hands but even when extended this pencil is nearly impossible to write with, something that puzzles me. A knowledgable friend though had an insightful comment about its size: it may be that the company was less concerned about its usefulness than it was about demonstrating that they were able to make pencils that small. This makes a lot of sense to me, though I’ll add that since it came with so many refills it seems to me there was at least the hope that it would be used in some fashion.

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The lead is rather soft—I’d estimate something like an American No. 1 pencil—and the diameter of the lead is quite large in proportion to the diameter of the pencil itself.

If it was in fact Lyra’s intention to simply impress consumers with their manufacturing ingenuity and prowess, I’d say No. 4326 was a complete success.

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One Response to Making a Lyra (Fan) Out Of Me in Milan

  1. Michael says:

    Not Sure how old this might be but the Victorians, in Europe at least, did go in for tiny implements of various kinds that could be attached to watch chains, chatelaines and the like. This might well have gone on the end of a double watch chain, sitting in the pocket opposite the watch.

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