This Small Shop Curates the Best Pencils from Around the World

Walk into this store in Manhattan, and you'll find over 200 varieties of pencils from around the world.

CW Pencil Enterprise
Photo: CW Pencil Enterprise

For Caroline Weaver, one pencil—nay, one hundred pencils—could never be enough. The owner of New York City's CW Pencil Enterprise has had a long love affair with this writing instrument, amassing a collection of colorful graphite tools even as a child growing up in an inventive house. "I feel most creative and most productive when I'm using a physical tool," Weaver says, "and I have always loved the specific feeling, sound, and sensation of using a pencil."

That's one reason why the first iteration of CW Pencil Enterprise—an online shop that launched in November 2014—wasn't perfect. "The end game was always to have a physical shop, because it's a tactile object that is best experienced by actually trying it out," Weaver explains now. So, in 2015, she opened a brick-and-mortar store filled to the brim with her favorite objects. And New Yorkers accustomed to using pens and email once again fell in love with this classic writing tool.

Walk into the Orchard Street store and you're greeted by dozens of glass jars filled with roughly 250 different varieties of pencils—some mass produced, some vintage and rare, and all seemingly colorful, beautiful, and Instagram-friendly. The pencil, Weaver says, is "a simple object with a long, rich history. There's more to them than meets the eye." And her displays seem to prove it.

While the store does sell other items—an edited collection of paper goods and pencil accessories such as sharpeners, erasers, caps, and clips—the star of this store's show is certainly the pencils. A few of Weaver's favorites—and some of the store's most noteworthy options—include Viarco pencils, a Portuguese brand that offers new takes on vintage tools. They "are so beautiful and well finished," Weaver describes. "What I like about them is that they really feel like what one imagines a pencil so feel like: They're sharp, dark, and have a pleasant scratchiness to them."

Weaver also loves non-photo blue pencils, which offer up a rich shade of sky blue that can't be detected by a photocopier. As Weaver explains, this type of blue pencil was most often used in initial drawings by illustrators and animators. "I love it because it's a beautiful color," Weaver says. Not many brands make this kind of pencil, but "there's one still made by General Pencil Company, the oldest pencil maker in America," she says, and CW Enterprise carries it, of course.

The Nataraj Marble Pencil is another perennial favorite of Weaver's. "It's really inexpensive and is made by an Indian pencil company that makes more than eight million pencils a day," Weaver says. Even so, "each one is individually marbled with its own unique, swirly pattern," she says.

When it comes to her own writing and projects, Weaver prefers a smooth, dark pencil with good point retention, "because I'm heavy handed," she explains. And she's happy to help customers find their favorite writing tools, too. "I want all of our customers to feel like they had a special experience and to feel like they learned something," Weaver says. "We're able to make super specific recommendations for everyone and have so many stories to share about the things that they sell. I want them to walk away feeling like they are ready to create something amazing."

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