Are old pencils worth anything?
Like most things, the answer is … maybe.
The value of an old pencil depends on answers to these three questions:
- Is it rare?
- Is it desirable?
- Is it in good condition?
While the age of a pencil can certainly impact its value, what’s most important is how much of a demand there is for that particular model. A 100-year-old long ferrule pencil made by Eagle ($25 USD) is more than three times the price of a similarly-aged long ferrule Double Day ($7). Both pencils are bonafide antiques, but in this case the Eagle is a brand with higher demand and is therefore worth more money. However, if the same pencil model has chipped paint and is half chewed up, the value will drop accordingly.
Different folks, different strokes
Keep in mind, too, there are distinct reasons why someone might want to buy an old pencil. One group of people are the classic pencil collectors. These folks want unique pencils, pencil models and brands they have never seen before, and rare pencils their fellow pencil nerds would be envious of. Then, there’s another group I’ll call pencil enthusiasts. These people might be collectors, but what’s more important to them is often the usability of a particular pencil. They are usually interested in either writing or drawing, and if so they will be keen on things like the firmness of the lead, the way the pencil feels when held in their hand, etc. A pencil enthusiast might have exactly three pencils they prefer to use for various purposes, and they will search high and low to find (and buy) those specific pencils.
Take the Mono, for example
Tombow, a Japanese pencil manufacturer, has over the years produced countless different colors and imprints of the Mono pencil. It has a great reputation for its high quality lead, and some artists will prefer the Mono above other brands and models. While it does have some collectible value, most Monos are not worth a huge amount because they were produced by the zillions not too long ago. The value of certain Monos is more likely due to the fact that they cannot be purchased in local art supply stores. When a Mono is out of production or hard to find, its demand (and therefore price) will almost certainly go up.
What about the old pencils I found in …?
One of the best ways to find out whether an old pencil is of any particular value is to search for the model and manufacturer’s brand name on a vintage pencil website like mine — brandnamepencils.com. You could also try looking on eBay — there’s an option to find sold items under “advanced search”. While eBay can be a good source for gathering information, the downside with selling on their platform is the seller fees, credit card transaction fees, and the cost of your time to photograph and list the pencils. And after all that, there’s the risk of potentially not getting the high bid you were hoping for.
Complete sets of pencils and full boxes will of course be worth more than single pencils, but a dozen pencils isn’t likely going to be 12x the money. It all depends on who’s buying. Many collectors I know seem to be perfectly happy with adding one pencil to their collection.
If you’d like to get a quick (and free) value appraisal of the old pencils you’ve discovered, complete this form. I have one of the largest brand name pencil collections on planet earth, and I’m happy to share my 20+ years of pencil collecting knowledge with you.
And who knows … I might even make you an offer. 😉