The Bob Cantor Pencil Sharpener Collection

Banner picture of Bob's Collection

This is my pencil sharpener collection, consisting of souvenir sharpeners and any sharpener which I find to be particular interesting, unusual, or just plain fun. I have almost 900 sharpeners in the collection. This is actually kind of small as serious pencil sharpener collections go, but I still think it's a nice collection.

I've also created several series of paintings based on the sharpeners in my collection.

Lark/Giraffe Brand Matched Sets
Page one and Page two
This is where most of my favorites can be found. Made in China, these sets come in cute little boxes which are usually identified as either Lark or Giraffe (not all of the sharpeners shown here came in the original box, so I can't guarantee the provenance of them). They appear to be made from some kind of Gypsum or Plaster material. These include an All-Rooster Band, Ducks in Boats, and a litter of Kittens playing the Accordion.

Other Matched Sets
Although most of my sharpeners are made in China, the matched set of Chinese folk characters included here are the only ones which were actually purchased in China (and then given to me as a gift).

Souvenir Sharpeners
The Golden Gate Bridge was the first sharpener in my collection. I've always preferred tacky souvenirs which actually have some useful function, and so a small, inexpensive pencil sharpener fit the bill perfectly. It wasn't until I began looking, however, that I realized how unusual souvenir pencil sharpeners are. Souvenir pencils are everywhere, but you'll rarely find sharpeners to go with them. Now that I collect, of course, I never actually use the sharpeners for sharpening, but I could if I wanted to.

Miscellaneous Sharpeners
My largest category.

Specialty Sharpeners, Packaging and Displays
These include a battery operated chewing gorilla, a pull-string ladybug sharpener, and a combination sharpener/paper shredder.

A few sharpeners made of ceramics or similar substances. These are usually larger than most.

Mostly for soft drinks and candy.

Soft Plastic Figures
A purple gorilla, smiling banana, bow-tied black bear and slice of pizza are just some of the figures you'll find here.

Glitter Domes
I thought these were a great idea. Take a classic but useless kitschy souvenir item and turn it into a kitschy but useful one. Speaking of kitschy, the Library of Congress dome was given to me by my wife Julie, the Queen of Tacky.

Cartoon, Comic and other Characters
Would you believe five different kinds of Hello Kitty pencil sharpeners in my collection (and many more which aren't)? No wonder Mickey Mouse is holding his head and rolling his eyes!

Die-Cast Miniatures
The new ones of these are the types you're most likely to find in a souvenir shop, even if they have little or nothing to do with the tourist attraction associated with the shop. I usually don't buy the new ones unless I'm frustrated at not having found any other sharpeners and don't want to walk away empty-handed. The larger images at the top are of the older PlayMe brand miniatures which were made in Spain.

Home-made Collection
I found this odd collection of home-made pencil sharpeners on eBay. There was no explanation for it. Some of them are very cleverly thought out and skillfully constructed; others are as simple and stupid as a sharpener shoved into the mouth of a plastic fish. There are a total of 68 sharpeners in the collection. My favorites are displayed here.

Pencil Sharpener Links

Albert Girones claims to have 27,000 examples in his collection!
Gemma has 5200 sharpeners in her collection.
Johan and Anky have 450 die-cast miniatures and also sell them on-line.
Puntenslijperclub publishes the magazine Puntgaaf
Paul Johnson is now believed to have over 3200 specimens at his pencil sharpener museum in Ohio.
The Early Office Museum has an excellent history of sharpeners
Photos and commentary from a collector with 2800 sharpeners
A German collector with quite a bit of information, but all in German
A Chinese pencil sharpener blog
Would you believe that Wikipedia has some information also?

Picture of collection in shot glass holder Picture of collection in china cabinet
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© Robert Cantor

Rube Goldberg Pencil Sharpener

Picture of crazy Rube Goldberg sharpener

run run cryptolope man!