I've talked a few times on the blog about my grandfather. Unbeknownst to him, he was a pencil inspiration to me. He always had pencils around the house, in little unassuming cups stashed all over the place. On the desk next to his recliner, on his computer desk, on the kitchen table, on the basement coffee table, atop the piano, in his wood shop, hell even in the bathroom! Once I started to understand vintage pencils, I dreamed of going to their house and finding something rare in the cups, but to no avail. Sure, there are things no longer made, from companies long since bought and sold, but let's get real: there are no boxes of Blackwings stashed in the garage. It couldn't be that easy, could it?
No, his pencils are all the utilitarian yellow that we've come to associate with "capital P" Pencils here in the USA. The pencil emoji is yellow. The poop emoji is brown. These things are the color they're most known for. I've found an old chewed-on Eberhard Faber Marigold, some Berol Mirados, a generic pencil called the Sparco 505 that writes better than nearly any modern cheap ones I've tried. An Empire Fairmount. He bought whatever plain yellow pencils were cheap when he needed pencils over the years. When they got short, they got stuck in the cups. I'm certain most of them ended up broken in his wood shop or lost. But the small ones that survived live out their lives as stubs in the various cups around the house. I got his love for the usage of pencils, but not his taste for whatever is cheap and does the job.
The Moon Products Crown Cedar is a pencil that we could both agree on. It's cheap, yellow, does the job; it's also made of cedar, has an amazing core, and I love how ridiculously plain it is.
You all know the USA Gold. This is the cheap cedar pencil, also made by Moon Products, that is generally the only non-store brand, non-Dixon pencil you can find around in a big box department store like Walmart or Target. They are usually the only Made In The USA brand in these stores. They used to be my recommendation (of pencils from those stores) until Dixon decided to start making the Ticonderoga out of cedar again and started paying attention to quality control. Now it's somewhat of a wash, unless you value the Made in the USA thing.
The Crown Cedar is very similar to the USA Gold: it's yellow, it's made of cedar. The cores are similar, though the Crown Cedar seems smoother. The imprint is different, of course, and it comes with a standard brass-colored ferrule instead of the USA Gold's blue-striped one. The imprint is very unassuming and is just a red foil, with the plainest, most standard font. It says "U.S.A. MOON PRODUCTS, INC. CROWN CEDAR" in a right-handed layout. Then the "2" is vertical. That's it. If you search the pencil, sometime you will find that they are shown with a green imprint and green ferrule. In fact, that's why I bought them. However, they didn't show up that way. That must be an old design, or mine is an old design and the new ones are green.
The wood is, as the name suggests, cedar. It has an awesome smell, very fragrant. So much, in fact, I thought I had accidentally sharpened a Blackwing when I caught a whiff during an absent-minded sharpen. Of the 12 pencils, every one has a centered core. That core is something special in a cheap, USA-made pencil: dark and smooth, great point durability, and not crumbly. I find sometimes the cheap former-Casemate / now-Pen+Gear pencils (99% surely from Hindustan in India) to be crumbly sometimes.
The eraser is basically the exact same thing as a USA Gold. It's nothing special, it does the trick, it's not as dry as a Musgrave pink eraser but not as soft as something from General's, better than the Casemate (which tend to have a greasy, oily situation going on). It's eraser pink, like all good cheaps, and does ok.
I bought these on Amazon, and I overpaid. I hadn't seen or heard of these before. They weren't in the Moon catalog. That must just sell them to teacher supply stores or something of that nature. When I was looking them up after getting them, I was shocked to find nearly every teacher supply place had them, some with the green ferrule product pic, some with the way mine came. But every place had them for around $2.50 per dozen. That's a little under a third of what I paid. I'm not mad about it, because I'm happy to have found these, but I won't do you the disservice of linking to Amazon in this situation, because the price just isn't worth it from whoever is selling these there. I will link to a few of the places I found these at, but obviously buy at your own risk. I can't vouch for these sellers.
I feel like these are something I would find in my grandfather's pencil cup, maybe that's why I'm drawn to them. I love being surprised by something stupid-cheap and seeing it box above its weight class. I hope one day my grandkids find one of these in one of my pencil cups. Unlike my grandpa, however, this old man WILL have boxes of Blackwings stashed in the closet.