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Quality in Manufacturing Since 1916 . . .
Commonplace, and enduring, the pencil and the wood cased pencil industry
ventured tentatively onto Tennessee's industrial landscape in the 20th Century's
first quarter by way of Tennessee red cedar and a great, early recycling
scheme that exchanged cedar rail fences for a modern, and sought-after,
The "Colonel" as he was addressed byhis Northern contemporaries,
James Raford Musgrave, lay his hand on the land with a plan and a crew
that traded, or bartered, with the farmers the new wire and pole fence for
the old cedar rails, and the crew actually did the work necessary to install the new fence.
In some cases of exceptionally large tracts, money was exchanged. The cedar rails were
already dry and weathered, pristine for the purpose, perfect to be cut into pencil slats at the mill
in Shelbyville. The milled slats went from Shelbyville to German
manufacturers, Faber and others. World War I created a situation in
which goods and services were no longer exchanged freely and
Colonel Musgrave turned to the compact, close-knit American
manufacturers, of which he was already a part.
In 1919 the Pencil Makers Association organized to represent and unify the
industry. A great exchange of raw material and technology ensued within
the domestic market. During this time, the Colonel had the foresight to bring
a German machinist, and his expertise to Tennessee and the transformation
continued. In time, the Tennessee red cedar source of logs and rail
fences was depleted and was replaced, luckily, with a wood of similar
characteristics from California - California Incense Cedar - a fast
growing, plentiful, and renewable substitute.
Seeing the entire wood cased pencil production, start to finish, taking place
in Shelbyville, Tennessee was a dream Musgrave saw through to fruition.
By the time of the Great Depression, the company was not only making
its own pencils, but, in a grand display of equal opportunity, J. R.
Musgrave nurtured the establishment of other local pencil manufacturers
as well as the specialty advertising imprinting industry.
World War II, with shortages and modifications in production and the
manufacturing process, resulted, as typical of the time and circumstance,
with the female more thoroughly involved in the work force
compensating physically and monetarily, for a husband/brother/father overseas
in the war effort. Families of workers have traditionally crossed generations
to work at the "mill".
Situated early in a designated industrial neighborhood, and near the
grounds of the original Bedford County Fairgrounds, Musgrave
Pencil Company has seen the community, and the state's industrial
economy, grow up around it. As recognition for its exceptional
contribution in the field, Governor Buford Ellington, in the 1950s, named
Shelbyville "The Pencil City" due in a large part to the leadership exhibited
at Musgrave Pencil Company. Today's production continues to
focus on a quality wood cased writing instrument for schools, offices, and
specialty advertising. Recent additions to the line include the Musgrave
Designer pencil, with the glitz and sparkle of holidays, and messages
and colors for the techno generation.
Harvest Packaging was created for packaging multiple production items.
A true Tennessee product, the Musgrave Pencil is a result of commitment at all
levels from materials to management. The legacy of the Colonel's
entrepreneurial skills and instinct contributes, through Musgrave Pencil
Company, to this states' diverse and intriguing story.
(Pictures throughout this page show the manufacturing facility within the many
departments - some dated as far back as 1916 . . .)
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