Silverpoint – A Touch of Genius

I bought a pencil in Florence. No, I am not that bored, that I have to write blog posts about such banalities. To be specific it is not any pencil, more precisely it is a silverpoint, and even more precisely, it is a successor of the silverpoint. Does this make sense? I suppose, not. But first things first.

The silverpoint stands between the stilus in old Rome and the development of the pencil. It was a piece of wood or metal with a tip made of silver, lead or tin. When the tip came in contact with a special prepared paper and oxidation started that produced thin grey-brown lines. The silverpoint was used until the middle of the 16th century. Then it was replaced by the pencil. Artists like Hans Holbein, Albrecht Dürer, Rafael, and Leonardo da Vinci worked with a silverpoint.

My modern variation is called Prima and is manufactured by Napkin (Believe it or not, it is an Italian manufacturer.) In principle it works like in olden times. A metal tip by Ethergraf® is put on a metal rod, which is about 17 cm long. (The rod exists in several colours but each produces grey-brown lines.)

Today no special paper is required. The Prima works on copy paper, watercolour paper, etc. The lines are thin and rather bright. With some pressure, they become slightly darker. If the paper is thin this can cause an arching on the backside.

The lines are not erasable and filling an area only works with hatching. The Prima is not a substitute for a pencil. But it has some advantages. It is waterproof, need not to be sharped and (according to the manufacturer) lasts an eternity. With 20 g it fits very well in the hand. Beside that it looks absolutely stylish. Of course I don’t draw any better with it, but whenever I use the Prima I feel myself shifted into the Renaissance and a touch of genius of the great minds from that epoch passes by me (unfortunately without a trace).

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