Monday, July 28, 2014

Pentel Quicker Clicker

[Click for a larger view.]

I realized some time earlier this year that I’ve been using this .05 mm Pentel Quicker Clicker, on and off, for something like thirty years. There are mechanical pencils with more pizzazz — Alvin’s Draf/Tec retractable for one, the Kuru Toga for another — but there can be few mechanical pencils as durable as the Quicker Clicker. Or as durable at least as this Quicker Clicker. The pencil’s claim to distinction is its “convenient side lead advance,” visible in the photograph. No need to press down on a cap to advance the lead. I like the way this Quicker Clicker has aged: the translucent barrel shows ring upon ring from extra leads knocking around inside.

Traveling to Rachel and Seth’s wedding in April, I dropped this pencil’s eraser cap on a plane. Notice: I did not say that the cap “slipped” from my hand. I dropped it while erasing. The guy sitting next to me understood how much was at stake: he and I took apart our seats to search. No luck. He got down on the floor and searched under his seat using his iPhone as a flashlight. No luck. The people one row back looked around too. No luck. I drew a picture and gave it to a flight attendant with my info. “It’s a thirty-year-old pencil!” No luck. Perhaps the cap is still on board, living out its days as a newfangled Flying Dutchman.

The cap now on the pencil comes from a Quicker Clicker of recent manufacture (made with a textured grip). What distinguishes the new cap from the old: darker plastic and small slits for safety. They lessen the danger of suffocation if the cap is inhaled or swallowed. There’s nothing though to keep me from dropping it.

[This post is the sixteenth in an occasional series, “From the Museum of Supplies.” Supplies is my word, and has become my family’s word, for all manner of stationery items. The museum is imaginary. The supplies are real.]

Other Museum of Supplies exhibits
Dennison’s Gummed Labels No. 27 : Dr. Scat : Eagle Turquoise display case : Eagle Verithin display case : Faber-Castell Type Cleaner : Fineline erasers : Illinois Central Railroad Pencil : A Mad Men sort of man, sort of : Mongol No. 2 3/8 : Moore Metalhed Tacks : National’s “Fuse-Tex” Skytint : Pedigree Pencil : Real Thin Leads : Rite-Rite Long Leads : Stanley carpenter’s rule

[Note to self: Use a ballpoint next time.]

comments: 11

Sean said...

I recognize that this is to completely miss the point, but my favorite passage from this story is:

"I drew a picture and gave it to a flight attendant with my info."

The dowdiness of drawing the part you were looking for (while on a plane) was precious enough, but it's also that you used the same pencil to draw its own missing part.

Delicious. :)

[NB: To be placed under "books I'd like to able to read someday", Of Daedalus and Dowdiana: Short Stories of 'Supplies' by Michael Leddy.]

Michael Leddy said...

It’s a good thing I didn’t lose the lead. :)

A detail that might add to your pleasure: the drawing was roughly actual size.

Sean said...

As you handed the sketch to the flight attendant, instead of saying something like "I'm trying to find something..." I can imagine your first words being: "This is to scale." :)

Michael Leddy said...

No need: I wrote “actual size” next to the picture. :)

The thing that was cheering in all this was that everyone in the immediate vicinity seemed to understand why such a thing would be worth searching for. Either that or they were really afraid of me and were just playing along.

Fresca said...

I liked hearing about the picture too! Would you consider drawing another one and posting it for us?

I also was amazed to learn that they put slits in the cap now to lessen danger of suffocation if swallowed.
What an imaginative solution!
I like clever engineering like that.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ll draw and post one, but only if you promise not to laugh. :)

It is clever engineering. Safety is also the reason why Bic caps are now open at the top. Pentel is sending me a replacement cap, but I’m sure it’ll be the kind with slits.

deejaycountzero said...

I thought you had stolen my pencil when I first saw this post.

Michael Leddy said...

I can understand why. But believe me, I would never steal someone’s pencil. :)

Michael Leddy said...

Here’s the picture. And another, neater.

B. Something said...

When you take the cap off, stick it under the pocket clip and then there's much less of a chance you'll lose it. I have several of the vintage QCs that I've been using since grade school, the originals are the best.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for that suggestion, B. It never occurred to me.

I agree with you that the original QC is best. Some time after I wrote this post, I found the original for sale at Amazon and now have a spare. The Pentel website used to have just the 0.7 for sale, but I see now that the company calls the original QC “permanently discontinued.”