Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Reading around the pencil blogosphere it seems that some consider a printed barcode on the pencil's barrel to be alien to the character of the pencil. Here's an example of a pencil review where the reviewer has welcomed one manufactuer's efforts to avoid printing a barcode on the side. In that case, the manufactuer, Caran d'Ache, has resorted to a removeable plastic sleeve with the barcode printed on it. This seems to me to be an elegant solution, though probably a relatively expensive one. Others have tried to use a sticker - Tombow comes to mind here - but too often that leaves a sticky residue on the pencil once the sticker has been peeled off, which is unpleasant to use.
Whilst it is nice to see a clean, clutter-free design on a pencil, I do like to see the various pieces of information the manufacturer has put on it. Whether the manufacturer's name and trademarks, country of origin, a model number, the grade of the lead, those mysterious little codes embossed in the side but not painted, and indeed the barcode, they all add to the character of the pencil.
The problem of fixing a barcode to a pencil so that it can be scanned at a shop's till really has only one foolproof solution - print it on the side of the pencil itself so it cannot be peeled or picked off. This is what Staedtler and Faber-Castell do. I don't think they detract at all from the character of the pencil, and those manufacturers make them as discreet as possible anyway. I am sure that in future, if the pencils produced now are collected or used by pencil lovers, they will appreciate these symbols of our industrial society. Here's to the barcode.