The words "Shelbyville, Tenn., U.S.A." bring back a lot of memories of grade school. Most of my pencils and erasers had the name of the town on them, and though I did live in a town called Shelbyville, it was not in Tennessee. But it was the first time that i realized there could be a town with the same name in a different state. I would imagine the kids of Shelbyville, TN sitting in their classes and wonder if they were having just as bad of time as I was. I'm sure they weren't ever thinking about the kids in MY Shelbyville, because their pencils probably said the same thing mine did.
Shelbyville TN is known as "The Walking Horse Capital of the World" because of its connection to the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, but at one time it was known as "The Pencil City" because it was the center of so much of the American pencil industry. Writing instruments are still made there, and they have a Sharpie factory. But for me, the jewel in Shelbyville's crown is the Musgrave Pencil Company. One of the remaining pencil manufacturers left in the US, Musgrave continues to make pencils like they used to. In my research, I couldn't find any instance in which the Musgrave Pencil Co. was bought, sold, merged, or is otherwise operating any differently than they have been in their long history.
The Musgrave Ceres is a classic yellow school pencil, and comes in 4 different grades. I'm going to take a look at the #1 and #2 and see what the differences are.
As I mentioned in my General's Supreme review, the Ceres is a little darker yellow, more like goldenrod or mustard than the Supreme/Semi-Hex/Ticonderoga yellow. A little like a school bus. The ferrule is a brass color with no stripe, and has the standard "nail-file" center that so many ferrules have. The eraser is a dark pink that borders on light red. The imprint is black and of typical cheap pencil quality. The #1 differs from the #2 in that the branding is bigger on the #2, which I believe to be newer, though I can't find any documentation on that. The "Musgrave Pencil Co." font is different on the #2, extended where the #1 is condensed, and the Ceres wordmark is more curvy on the #1. The shape that contains the grading is bigger on the #2, going edge-to-edge on the hex side.
I'm really bad at telling wood by the look of it, but I'm going to say this is basswood. Most Musgrave pencils are these days, unless there is a special reason NOT to be (Write In The Pines pencils). It has no scent to speak of. It sharpened well in the Pollux and the KUM Masterpiece, with just minor flaking where the wood meets the point.
The difference between the #1 and #2 is more pronounced than other #1 / #2 comparisons I've done. It feels like a real difference. The #2 is fairly dark to begin with, and with my heavy writing hand, outperforms some lighter #1s, such as the Ticonderoga B or the General Cedar Pointe #1. The #1 core seems slightly thicker, though not by much. Depending on what your baseline is, these seem true to grade, unless your baseline is the Ticonderoga, at which point, these are darker than advertised. Point durability is decent on the #2 and about average on the #1. For how dark it is, the #1 does give up a lot of lead to the page. Both are very erasable as long as you don't plan on using the attached erasers.
These are the standard, gritty red/pink erasers...the kind that feel dry on a brand new pencil. They are not dust-free and don't really do very well erasing the pencil they're attached to. The #2 did better than the #1, however, as I said above, I think the #1 is older and therefore the eraser may be on the verge of useless. It could still do the job, but not for too much longer. In the writing sample below, you can see 2 erasing examples for each pencil. The top one uses the attached eraser, the other uses the Seed Radar eraser.
The Ceres, like many Musgrave pencils, is a full hex. Sharp corners abound. And it is definitely thicker than a General's Semi-Hex or Supreme. It is not heavy, but feels big.
This is a Musgrave quality pencil...those who know what that means know what I'm about to say: they don't make the best pencils, but they aren't the worst, either. Their lacquer and imprinting won't win any awards, but I love the core and that there is actual difference between the grades. They are a step up from a Ticonderoga, in my opinion, and a good pencil for the classroom. I wouldn't personally write for long stretches with it because of the full hex.