Krita & Penna Fun Facts
Chalk as a writing instrument has been in use since pre-historic times. Pre-historic instagram artists (a.k.a cave-painters) used natural chalk to create works of art, some of which survive till the present day (unlike several of our masterpieces drawn between classes in high school). Blackboards became popular as teaching aids only in the 19th century and quickly caught on. Unfortunately, chalkboards are fast being replaced by whiteboards and dry-erase markers. Soon a whole generation may only know the alcohol-y smell and squeak of markers and not the comforting earthy smell and hypnotic tap-tap of chalk.
Sometime in the 16th century, a deposit of pure, solid natural graphite was discovered in Northwest England (it remains the only large scale deposit of graphite found in this solid form). Sixteenth century chemists mistakenly thought it was a form of lead. The discovery led to the invention of the prototype of the pencil and the term ‘pencil lead’ was coined.
Lead of course is poisonous, and should in no way be associated with writing instruments given to children as soon as they are old enough to not choke on them. When our Chief was a child and first got to know lead was poisonous, he panicked and started obsessively washing his hands each time he came into contact with a pencil (We have laughed our heads off, but his defense is "those were pre-google times!").
It was in 1795 when a French officer in Napoleon’s army discovered a method of mixing powdered graphite with clay, ending the monopoly of the British on the Pencil industry. In 1802, this method was patented by an Austrian company called Koh-i-noor (yes we believed it was Indian too till Wikipedia proved us wrong!). Fast forward to 2018, and the number of pencils manufactured in the world today stands at over 10 billion each year. There are no statistics to back this up, but that means there are several billion freshly chewed pencil ends and thousands of litres of pencil paint ingested!