Wow, this site brought back a lot of memories! The days of laboring over a drafting table and parallel bar, sharpening the lead after every few letters or lines, dipping the tip in that dirty foam thing to get the excess off the tip, switching between leadholders or changing out the lead to go from 2H to 2B to HB and back again. Today's reliance on computers for drafting means the mouse has replaced the leadholder, but at leadholder.com: The Drafting Pencil Museum, it's alive and well. This slightly obsessive page features just about every leadholder, drafting pencil, lead pointer and lead box ever made, as well as historical documents and advertisements, a history of the leadholder and descriptions of its mechanics. Who ever thought a site on this topic would exist, much less be so thorough? If you've ever used one, you need to check it out.

I found some of my old college gear, most of which I still have but haven't picked up in years.

Missing image - leadholder.jpg
From top to bottom: Staedtler Mars Lumograph 200 holder, Staedtler Mars Lumograph 200 - plastic roll top box, Alvin "Tech" Da De-Lux leadholder, Koh-I-Noor Select-O-Matic II 5614 (with adjustable lead softness indicator!), Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100, and (left to right) Staedtler Lead Pointer 502 & Teledyne Post lead pointer.

(via Design Observer)


  1. brandon pass seez:

    hilltown? now it is absolutely shameful for an architect to not draw. i carry in the back of my cliche molskin sketchbook the same 4" triangle and 6" metal straight edge that i bought in college as well as my grandfathers lead holder from god knows when. as an architect one should try to draw or sketch DAILY!!!! THATS AN ORDER!

    i must try to refrain from going into a typical stream of consciousness rant (but somehow feel that power diminishing.....) about why architecture is becoming nothing more than fancy pants 'graphics. all anybody nowadays knows how to do is to 'skew' or 'copy and paste' their architecture into a cool 2D graphic to sell typically in the form of 'cells' or constructions where the detailing or the actual structure is an afterthought distorting the inherent properties of a given material. it is to easy to come up with something slick and cool. hand drafting requires true understanding of detail, efficiency and economy of lines, strong compositions to convey necessary info and....its a hell of a lot of fun. i am ever thankful to my job with DDA that when i arrived they still had nothing but parallel bars on the tables (via Ali Tayar...very sweet indeed), ink and vinyl on mylar. love that smell of ammonia!!!! Mmmmmm mm! i think every architect should hand draft a detail every now and then just to truly look into a drawing/detail, enjoy it instead of crossing it off the to-do list. i even try to avoid 'cells' when drafting on the computer. bragging a bit i do feel that my efficiency at CAD drafting surpasses all of my co-workers from each job so i do not feel like i am talking out of my ass here, yo. i know both sides of this coin pretty well and this is a feeling i have arrived to after years of use.

    why not dig into the craft of a 2 point (or attempt the ever elusive 3-point perspective) to study all of those cool ideas we have floating around in our melons? get grayed out fingers, allow the construction lines to add to the quality and beauty of the drawing instead of a 'wire frame' or distorted oblique view. i find so many times that by working out a hand drafted drawing, even if just on a post-it note i discover something that i never knew or saw before be it through the happy accident scenario or whether through pure discovery. there is something so dry and sterile about rotating a 'view' and ultimately disappointing about that product where one has to start 'skewing' or pulling apart the beauty of the simplicity. good design as i see it comes from restraint and understanding...not through trickery. i am not saying i do not like the tricked out bling of the 3-D masters but how many times have you heard that a client say or how many times have you felt that 'it does not look like the rendering' once the edifice is constructed? that is because nine times out of ten the 3-D constructor is just a monkey that does not know detail yet being directed by a principal who wants to seduce the client into believing that this IS exactly what it will be. and therefore the culmination of their education is a job doing nothing but constructing and tweaking digital 3-D images and not really thinking about it (most of the time). that nasty storefront system is substituted with a slick homogeneous glass plane and the likes. again, don't get me wrong, i do like the initial impact of these glossy images, but not too far behind that feeling comes the reality that i am trying to be seduced into believing that this is exactly how the building will exist.

    these posts typically come from initial feelings and i know there is a much deeper discussion that could come from discourse, but i just feel.....well

    ...and remember, a drawing (or sketch) a day keeps the computer (and big brother) at bay!


    To clarify, BP, I was talking more about the computer and mouse replacing the leadholder in terms of drafting and working drawings, not sketching and design and inspiration. For me, the leadholder means drafting and lettering, while other instruments come to mind when I think of sketching, such as ink, colored pencils, and maybe a mechanical pencil, since it doesn't need to be sharpened, unlike a leadholder or regular ol' pencil.

    Here's an anecdote relevant to this discussion, something that's related to drawing and my web page endeavors. A couple years out of school, I found myself bored with work, particularly the lack of design and drawing (being a CAD monkey and working on some uninspiring projects at the time) as well as the lack of exposure to architecture outside of what I was working on at the time. It was like I had blinders on. (I've always been one to find inspiration in what came before by other architects; it opens the mind and makes one realize there's a multitude of approaches to design, among other things.) So to alleviate that boredom, I bought a spiral sketchbook and decided to do a sketch every week...and I'm not talking about a rough sketch, 'cause that's not my style. I tend to favor photo-realistic sketches with lots of lines and shade and tone and depth and so forth. They don't take a week, but to do one a day was difficult. My instrument of choice was a pencil, a la the Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100...H or HB, I do believe. So anyways, I decided to combine the drawing with the precedents by sketching an architect's building (usually from a photo in a book or photograph) and then write a blurb about its appeal to me. Each page was composed the same: a narrow column of text running down the page, interrupted in the middle by the sketch itself. In effect, these were the beginnings of my "weekly doses". Soon after, I realized I wanted to share this with others, though I almost immediately abandoned the thought of just scanning these and throwing them on a server in favor of writing a brief piece and including some purty images. I'll look for the notebook at home and then scan one or two and post them here for all to see. Some are pretty good, though some...well.

    Every now and then I feel the urge to renew that weekly drawing, though I always seem to get bogged down by other stuff, including web endeavors. But it looks like now I have no choice!

  3. BP:

    a dose of sketch bombs would be juicy! would love to see that. actually i'm always amazed at your dose diligence. it amazes me just how in touch you keep all of us with your page. kudos kudos my friend. your hard work is appreciated by many....and i did vote for the dose as the best architecture page because IT IS!

    crazy but i like 3H to 5H...its like drawing with a nail.

  4. I could do 2H but any harder and I'd rip through the damn paper. I remember a guy in school who drew almost excusively with 6H. The drawings were pretty awesome with construction lines adding to the aesthetic, a la LTL.


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