A virtual mini-museum of the halcyon days of the Canadian pencil industry.
A public service announcement for vintage pencil collectors... don't chew your old pencils. Prior to about 1970, that beautiful smooth glossy finish on your pencil was probably achieved by adding lead to the paint. Sometimes frighteningly high levels of lead. It seems Canada was a bit slower than the US in "getting the lead out". So there is a bit of lead in those old "lead pencils", its just in the paint instead of the core.
Edmonton Journal Thursday, December 30th, 1971 page 31
A New Menace - Pencil Chewing
Yellow pencils may pose a health hazard to persons who chew them because of high lead levels in the paint finish, a study by STOP has revealed.
Bruce Martin of STOP, who conducted the Edmonton study, estimated a child would have to eat the paint on four of the highest rated pencils over six weeks for fatal lead poisoning to occur.
The principal hazard lies in the fact lead is a cumulative poison, he said.
Chemical analysis of five brands of Canadian-made pencils readily available in Edmonton show the yellow paint on E Eagle Mirado 174 Hard 2H “Chemi-Sealed” pencils contain 23.2 per cent lead. Canada Venus Imperial 1500 HB pencils record 18.8 per cent lead. The remaining three brands contained lesser amounts of lead.
The tests were conducted by the chemical department of Warnock Hersey International Ltd. of Vancouver.
STOP (Save Tomorrow Oppose Pollution) has notified the federal department of consumer and corporate affairs of their findings.
In a reply to STOP, J.W. Black of the hazardous products division, said pencil manufacturers were advised it would be recommended to Ron Basford, minister of consumer and corporate affairs, that a ban on the use of leaded paint on pencils should be introduced under the Hazardous Products Act.
The STOP study was initiated after a similar study was conducted in New York by the health department’s bureau of lead poisoning. The New York study found 51 of 138 pencils tested to have levels exceeding the one percent allowed by law in the U.S.
The high-lead content paint gives the pencils a smooth glossy finish.