Company History

1914

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.

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, equivalent, wire.

1918

The "Colonel" as he was addressed by his 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.

1919

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.

1929

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.

1939

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".

1945

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.

1967

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.

Today

The Musgrave Pencil Company still stands as a testamate to hard work, dedication and the tradition of manufacturing pencils of the highest quality. As you walk through the mill you will meet some who have been here for decades, and some who are just learning... what they have in common is love for what they do, and the company they work for. Whether you are looking for a standard yellow number 2, or a custom made pencil we would love for you to become a part of The Musgrave Pencil Company.