One morning last month a man sat down at his computer and ordered $4,000 worth of pencils designed to look like John Steinbeck's favorite, the Blackwing 24.
“It's probably the most iconic pencil ever made in America,” says Caroline Weaver, whose shop on New York's Lower East Side, C.W. Pencil Enterprise, took the order of 1,920 pencils. C.W. carries more than 200 types of pencils, including the Blackwing (also favored by Walt Disney), as well as a dozen erasers and sharpeners, and zero mechanicals.