Mostly forgotten now, the pencil industry standards wars of the 1940s and ‘50s made huge fortunes for the winners, and ruined the losers forever. So accustomed are we now to Phineas Gambol’s ubiquitous “No. 2” that it’s difficult to even imagine a time when it was vying for space on office supply store shelves with such exotic numbers as 5, 7, and even 44 (of which no specimen remains in existence).
In the end, of course, it was not the superior performance of the Gambol “2” that made it the go-to pencil standard for the general marketplace, nor its lower price. Instead, it was the shrewd kick-back deal Gambol cut with the standardized testing industry and affiliated automatic test-scoring machine manufacturers, who agreed to calibrate their equipment to his pencils’ specifications.
Soon, every schoolchild in America had to own at least a pair of Phineas Gambol “No. 2s,” or else get every question wrong on his or her full suite of assessment tests by reason of mechanical error, and be judged a complete imbecile by numerous state boards and all college admissions departments. That path, as some unfortunate students with alternate pencil preferences learned, led directly to the group home, the mental hospital, or, at best, a job in the Deal-a-Day sector.
Not to mention you couldn’t help feeling like a moron, using a pencil shaped like Nessie.
Wear this shirt: on alternating days with Stay Sharp!, if your collection of Reckoned tees is fine enough to include it.
Don’t wear this shirt: if you are a pencil-necked geek, as it will only draw attention to the problem. May we suggest an Elizabethan ruff, or something in a Van Dyke collar?
This shirt tells the world: “You can have it in any number you like, as long as it’s 2.”
We call this color: Asphalt Usually, But Just For Today We’re Renaming It “Graphite”
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