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Will you pay a ‘fortune’ for scented pencils?

Caran D’Ache, a family-owned Swiss brand, is a global leader in adding a special touch to the most ordinary writing instruments

Swiss brand Caran D'Ache adds a luxurious twist to everyday products like pencils.

If you went to buy pencils from the corner shop, you would end up paying a rupee (maybe a little more) for the cheapest available Indian brand per unit. The pencil is among the oldest and most basic writing instruments, loved by children and adults alike, used by a wide spectrum of people, from carpenters to artists. But graphite being its main ingredient, pencil marks tend to fade over time, and ingesting the substance (who hasn’t as a child?) is inadvisable.

Now imagine a pencil with superpowers—and I mean ordinary wood pencils, not the fancy mechanical varieties—whose imprints never fade away. What’s more, from every mark these pencils make emanate the smell of the Alpine forests. That’s what you get if you are willing to pay a few thousand rupees for a box of four Caran D’Ache Mizensir scented graphite pencils (the set retails at 3,000 on William Penn’s online store).

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Caran D’Ache, a family-owned Swiss brand, is a global leader in adding a special touch to the most ordinary writing instruments. Founded in 1915, its name derives from karandash, the Russian word for pencil, and also from the nom de plume of the French satirist and political cartoonist, Emmanuel Poiré. Currently headed by Carole Hubscher-Clements, the fourth generation of the family that started the firm, Caran D’Ache makes pencils, pens and a variety of other writing instruments. And while its high-end fountain and ballpoint pens are of a league in themselves, its light-resistant pencils (whose marks do not fade with time) are immensely popular among professional artists. At present, Caran D’Ache exports its products to 90 countries in 5 continents—that’s quite a feat for a family-owned, local business.

The scented pencils are the result of a collaboration with Mizensir, a premium Swiss perfumery famous for their scented candles and fragrances, and the scents have been created by Spanish master perfumer Alberto Morillas, who is also responsible for making CK One for Calvin Klein and Acqua Di Gio for Giorgio Armani. The body of the pencils is made of ayous and poplar wood, instead of the usual cedar, obtained from certified renewable sources.

A set of four Caran D'Ache pencils.
A set of four Caran D'Ache pencils.

Apart from the pleasure of a smooth writing experience, accompanied by heady aromas of the Alpine region (patchouli, orange, musk, and so on), these pencils are biodegradable. In its effort to be environment-friendly, Caran D’Ache also recycles wood chips from the residue of its pencil-making process as fuel for central heating. If it’s hard to imagine paying a small fortune for a pencil, it’s equally difficult to conceive of a more luxurious take on the humble, everyday writing instrument.

Fine Writing is a monthly column that looks at luxury writing instruments and stationery.

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