Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company

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Derwent Pencils
IndustrySchool and consumer products
HeadquartersCumberland, England
Area served
ProductsPencils, Stationery, Watercolor painting

Derwent or Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company is a manufacturer of pencils and other stationery. The business began in 1832 in Cumbria under the name of Banks, Son & Co.[1] The company was bought by Acco UK (known then as Rexel), and became a brand of their product range.


Keswick remained well known for producing the finest pencils in the world. Previously the pencils had been made by hand in small workshops, but in 1832, the first pencil factory in the area was opened by Banks, Son & Co. This company would pass through several hands before becoming the Cumberland Pencil Company in 1916.[2]

Pencil range[edit]

Derwent colour pencils have traditionally been sold in tins of 12, 24, 36 and 72 different colours. They are also available in a range of wooden presentation boxes or sets of six which are intended to be trial packs.

Derwent's oldest line of colour pencils, Artist, were expanded from a range of 24 to 72 in 1939 and from 72 colours to 120 in 1996. Studio and Watercolour pencils are still available in the 72 original colours. Pastel pencils were introduced in 1994 and come in 90 colours. Derwent also now manufactures ordinary stick pastels.

Derwent Signature was a range of lightfast pencils, available in 60 colours (Signature Watercolour pencils came in 40 colours) but it was discontinued after a few years. New 72 colour ranges include Derwent Coloursoft and Derwent Inktense pencils. Derwent also produces a range of graphite pencils such as Graphitone and Graphitint (a water-soluble colour pigment and graphite mix) and charcoal pencils like Tinted Charcoal as well as special-purpose items such as Aquatone, a range of 24 sticks of pure watersoluble colour. Derwent also created a waterbrush, which houses water in the barrel of a pen which is supplied to a fibre brush via a valve, giving a constant flow of water when the brush meets paper. Derwent and Pelikan paints are the market leaders in children's art supplies.[3]


Derwent was awarded the Queen's Awards for Enterprise.[4][5] In 2014 Derwent was awarded the Environmental & Energy Awareness Award at the local CN Business Awards.[6]

Pencil Museum[edit]

Derwent Pencil Museum

The Cumberland Pencil Museum is the focus of Derwent, and is located in Keswick, Cumbria. A tour is provided by the museum, which shows the history of pencil making and the creation of Derwent pencils.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petroski, Henry (2006). The pencil : a history of design and circumstance (11. printing ed.). New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0679734154.
  2. ^ Ward, James (2013). Adventures in stationery : stories from your pencil case. ISBN 1846686156. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  3. ^ Annalisa Barbieri. "Children's art products". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 28 October 2006.
  4. ^ Cwherald. "Queen's award for new pencil painting process". Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. Cwherald. Retrieved 27 April 2002.
  5. ^ "Derwent Pencil Company: Eco-Friendly". The PENCILS Blog. The PENCILS Blog. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  6. ^ In-Cumbria. "Environmental & Energy Award Winner: Cumberland Pencil Company". In-Cumbria. Retrieved 17 October 2014.

External links[edit]