General Pencil Colored Pencil Review

9 Jan

General Pencil's Multichrome line of colored pencilsProduct Description:

You may not have heard of General Pencil before, but this fifth generation family-owned company has been making pencils and art products in New Jersey for over a century.  They offer a variety of products with a focus on drawing and charcoal pencils.  For this review, we will focus on their two lines of colored pencils: MultiChrome and Color-Tex.

MultiChrome is an artist quality line of colored pencils.  They are round pencils with thick cores that come in 31 different colors.  Alternatively, the 26 colors of the hexagonal Color-Tex line have thin cores.

General Pencil began in 1889 when Oscar Weissenborn followed in his father’s footsteps and founded a pencil manufacturing company.  Originally named the Pencil Exchange, the company started manufacturing in Oscar’s family house in Jersey City, eventually moving to a factory in town in 1914.

The company survived Britain’s blockade of imported German lead during WWI by inventing new formulations for pencil lead, many of which are still used today.  Renamed General Pencil Company in 1923, the company has been steadily growing ever since.  They expanded operations to California in 1965 to be closer to the cedar forests that supply the wood for their pencils.

American Alternative Review:

General Pencil’s long history of American innovation and manufacturing is impressive.  Their manufacturing is based out of Jersey City, and their sales and customer service is based out of California’s San Francisco Bay Area.  The pigments and binding agents that go into General Pencil’s colored pencil cores are manufactured in New Jersey.  Many of these cores use the same chemical compositions invented during WWI.  Sustainably harvested California Incense Cedar is cut and glued around these cores to form the colored pencil.

I was unable to confirm where General Pencil sources the packaging for their colored pencils.  The company claims to be 100% made in America, and I will hold them to that.  However, the colored pencils are so American-made that even if the packaging was sourced from abroad, it would not have a considerable impact on their score.

5/5 stars

American Alternative Approved

General Pencil’s online distribution is limited, but you can check out all of their product offerings on their website here.  You can also check out how General Pencil compared against all of the other colored pencils we reviewed at our Colored Pencil Recap here.

Author’s Note:

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Sarah Becktel at the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA).  We were having a difficult time finding companies that manufacture colored pencils in the US.  Sarah suggested we check out General Pencil, and we are grateful for her help.

The CPSA is a non-profit organization that supports colored pencil artists and art across America.  You can check them out here.


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