Themes in Time
Playthings of the Past — Pencils
The history of marking and writing instruments goes far back into the past. Today we use wooden and graphite pencils like the one in the center of this photo. The earliest ancestor of the graphite pencil dates to around 1400. During the nineteenth century, pencils of soft slate, like the ones pictured here, were commonly used to write on sheets of harder slate. Children of the past used slate pencils and slate boards to practice their "lessons". Once completed, the slate could be wiped clean and used again and again. These examples were recovered from Rock Creek Park.