Some years ago, after a long hiatus, the Czar got back into pencils.
The Czar did not have pencils as a child, because in those days we generally used peasantss blood for ink, and the Czar did not know how to write. He finally learned Glagolitic and Cyrillic, but to be fair, the Czar doesnt remember much Glagolitic at all.
When the Czar discovered pencils in the early 20th Century, he loved them and wrote with them almost exclusively until about 1980, when he switched to green ink for some reason. Then, circa 1982, he wrote exclusively in black in or blue ink. Never pencil.
The Czar returned to pencils probably around 2001 or so. Not mechanical pencils, but good, old-fashioned wooden ones.
Something occured in that hiatus the Czar does not appreciate. Many pencils, particularly those made overseas, are terrible. The graphite is soft, and in a few seconds your pencil becomes blunt and unusable. You can sharpen them, but they never quite get sharp enough. The wood is made out of some recycled pulpy matter that is crumbly, and the outer coating is a weird plastic that jams up the sharpener.
Fortunately, the Czar has a collection of some of the classic pencilsstill manufactured today! Dixon Ticonderoga. Black Warrior. PaperMate Mirado, in that cedar casing. When you sharpen these, not only does the pencil get razor sharp, but the rich smell of freshly cut wood wafts upward into your nose.
Yeah, that, and the erasers actually work. You can rub out stray lines and mistakes, as opposed to those Chinese pencils where the eraser is a hard nub of rubber that smears the lines without removing them, shortly before jettisoning itself like the command module from a rocket.
The Mandarin gave the Czar a Black Warrior the other day, and he was most excited to receive it.