Review: Sanford Eagle HB

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I got this pencil with a bunch of others in an Ebay auction. It immediately struck my eye, because of its strange plastic appearance. The paint on the pencil seems to be a plastic coating that gives the pencil a strange toy feeling. The lettering is… well, simple but functional and deep. The pencil is not made of wood, well it is wood but its what they call a wood-composite. This is done so that the pencil can be easily sharpened. The lead itself is pretty thick and very well bonded to the wood-composite so that breaking the lead becomes almost impossible. You guessed it, this is a pencil which was (is?) marketed for schools. But does that imply that the pencil must be bad for an artist? Most cheap pencils tend to be bad, because, well they are cheap, in this case the pencil is not only cheap, but of very bad quality. I know that US people might have fond memories of their Eagle, I saw lots of posts where people are trying to get their hands on some, because of some happy remembrance from past times.

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I sharpened the pencil with my new Bungo Ryodo. Strangely that didn’t go too well. I suppose the wood-composite is not well suited for the mechansim of desktop-sharpeners.

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The production standards are pretty apparent here. Badly put together and the eraser is of similar quality.

So I tried to sketch with that pencil. I really tried to give it a chance, but it didn’t succeed, it didn’t even try. It looks like a pencil, it pretends even to be a pencil, but it does not perform like a pencil. I really hated the feeling: smeary, but without delivering graphite. And writing isn’t pleasant.

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Compared to the earlier reviewed “Dessin 2001”, the Eagle is far worse. But nevertheless this was somehow fun, finding a pencil, you really don’t like. I thought there were no bad pencils, that pencils always try to attain a certain standard, well color me corrected.

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18 comments

  1. I haven’t heard many positive things about Sanford so your review confirms my poor impression of that company and its products.

    Regarding the problems you had with the Bungo Ryodo: The mill is not designed to cope with the high density and the strength of the extruded material (I had a similar experience with the Carl Decade DE-100 and the STAEDTLER WOPEX).

    I have looked at quite a few extruded pencils, both old and new, and found the WOPEX by far the best. If you would like to get some I will happily send you a few!

    1. The Sanford is really crap.
      I already eyed at the Wopex. The feel of the pencil does however awaken some suspicions about synthetic softner and nanotech. But I’d be more than happy to test it through your help. We could even swap pencils?

      1. Of course I don’t know the formula of the WOPEX but as far as I know there is no need to worry about critical components. – Yes, we can swap pencils! I will happily send you some which may be of interest for you.

  2. can you help me to find this pencil?, I want to make purchase but I not sure if is the same reference, I’m an artist and I really thing that this pencil gives me the art effect that I want. I have used before and I like it.

    I found it in ebay but I’m not sure if is the same reference. can you help me with this?. because I’ll make an international purchase. thanks for your time.

    1. I got it with a bunch of other pencils. I’ve been buying things internationally for a long time and never had any issues. I you find someone selling these in the US on eBay, just go for it. Shipping for pencils is low and you don’t have to pay taxes on those.

  3. this pencil is discontinued, that’s why has been highly difficult for me to find it. and there are some offers on ebay but all pencils are boxed, so, I don’t want to make a wrong purchase.
    thanks for your help.

  4. And these pencils don’t erase well at all. It just smears. I’m not sure what graphite or material is in it but everything about this pencil is wrong (almost evil). Don’t use these pencils; they’re not worth it.

  5. This type of pencil was was a popular pencil used in school supplies many years ago in the United States. In the late 1970’s to mid 1990’s it was cheaper to buy these and pass out to students and replace if it got lost or broken. It wrote well depending on who made it because more then one company made the pencil. I can tell you Sanford was never the best the lead always had to be sharpened to get a clear writing. You could not chew it or damage it unless you bent it in half that was the way it was made. It was invented as and eco pencil (ecological movement) in order to save trees that were being cut down at a rapid pace. Back then the US was going through mass homebuilding, forest fires and wreckless clearing and noone was replanting any trees until that movement got started in the 1980’s. In the early 2000’s I had the hardest time finding an “eco pencil” as we called it.

  6. Yeah, don’t mess with composite pencils, especially when the selling point is that they’re cheap. When a manufacturer is trying to cut every corner it can, you’re not going to end up with a quality product.

  7. boy oh boy, do i remember this pencil, in elementary school. sharpen it, and its very sharp. almost like a weapon. the lead is indeed very hard. in school i would break off the tip at an angle with the desk, and it would flying off. and i would sharpen them all the way to the eraser. thats how much i hated this pencil. sanford used to make real wooden pencils, and i never seen them for sale. i only have and old red, real wooden pencil which is way better than the eagle and sharpens great.

  8. I dunno WTF you guys are doing wrong, but Sanford Eagles are amazing sketch pencils. These have never let me down. The soft lead, EASILY erased btw, gets a ton of mileage. I can sketch with a dull Eagle for hours, and when I’m satisfied with the groundwork, I sharpen and lay down the bold lines. I have a small stockpile of Eagles, and they’re pratically all I’ve used since Sanford went down.

    But maybe it’s because I was taught by classic 2D animators that I get so much utility from these deceptively cheap looking pencils. Sanford also made a pencil called ColErase, a blue pencil widely used by animators. It functioned just like the Eagle, but blue, and there wasn’t an artist in my school that didn’t swear by them. Then Sanford went under, Prismacolor bought the ColErase brand, and completely ruined it with crappy hard to erase lead that breaks easily. The ColErase died with Sanford, and that was the end of the greatest pencil I’d ever used. Eagles were a close second.

    The Eagles’ erasability, and that of the ColErase, were their greatest asset. But, there were other breeds of Eagle out there, like the ones made from recycled wood, without the nigh-unbreakable easily erased lead. Only the standard yellow “plastic” ones had that quality.

    When used correctly, the Eagles were versatile and long-lived sketch pencils. I just hope my stockpile doesn’t run out.

    1. Not sure if my last comment went through. I love these pencils. Great darks and lights. I love the way they don’t feel scratchy when you draw with them. Please please let me know if you find some. I would be do happy to pay a great price for them.

  9. Pencils have been extruded since long time with different technologies. I have developed unique co-extrusion technology and selling equipment globally. The pencils manufactured using our formulation is as comparable to wooden pencils. They are smooth and dark in writing and can also be easily sharpened in any conventional sharpener without breaking lead.

  10. I have a pack of these and I have found them to be the worst pencils I’ve ever used. The lead is so crumbly and breaks if I just look at it the wrong way. Whenever I sharpen it, the point breaks off right away and wears down too quick. Depending on the sharpener I use, the point will just keep breaking off before I even use it and it will never get sharp. The old Sanford American pencil is much better, and made of real wood. The lead is just about perfect in that pencil, too. I’m glad I have a couple of packs of those (both in Sanford and Eberhard Faber form)

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