At school, once of the most essential items to have was a pencil case. Obviously you needed one to store your pencils, pens, erasers, pencil sharpeners, set square and myriad other items needed for your school lessons, but they more often than not also contained scraps of paper with notes on and a few emergency sweets. They really were for emergencies too, since they were more often than not sat in a pool of leaked fountain pen ink and pencil sharpenings, so you had to be desperate to want to eat them.
Pencil cases came in a variety of shapes and sizes, and most kids ended up owning several during the course of their school life, so here are some of the more popular choices from when I was at school.
1. The PENCIL CASE Pencil Case
You knew exactly where you were with this one. Â Normally made from that weird plastic with the fabric backing bonded to it, they were very often a single colour but had PENCIL CASE emblazoned across the front, just in case you forgot what it was.
2. The Cheap Plain Pencil Case
Similar in style to the PENCIL CASE, but this one was just a plain colour and so was often at the lower end of the price scale so was great for those on a budget. Â More often than not these ended up getting personalised, if you can call it that, with various snippets of text written on in biro. Â Popular choices for this included swear words, the name of your girlfriend/boyfriend, your favourite football team, or saying that some classmate or other smells. Â Tippex could also be used instead of biro if you had a short message that you wanted to stand out.
3. The Pair of Trousers Pencil Case
These were incredibly popular for a while – I remember having at least two of these. Â Basically a fabric pencil case but with two extra bits of fabric sewn on the front to look like the back pockets of a pair of trousers, and some belt loops running across the top (sometimes with a fake belt underneath).
4. The Pencil Tin
A metal tin with a hinged lid, normally decorated with an image of some sort. Â I had one that was covered in a picture of an expanse of chips fresh from the chippy, whilst my sister had one covered with a neverending image of some Smarties chocolates. Â Whilst strong in the body, the locking mechanism was basically just a dent in the metal, which over time became less secure and the tin could flip open in your school bag, depositing pencils everywhere. Â They also tended to be too small to fit everything you needed in.
Not to be confused with the Geometry Set, which came with a little ruler, protractor, set squares and pair of compasses. Â These were often made of plastic which got brittle and snapped, and couldn’t hold anything other than the items which came with it.
5. The Licensed Pencil Case
Normally a bog standard pencil case with an image of some cartoon or TV character on the front, these seemed like a good idea at the time, but you had to be careful in case the cartoon or TV show in question suddenly became unpopular, or worse still you were still stuck with your Postman Pat pencil case when you started secondary school because your Mum wouldn’t buy you a new one. Â “There’s nothing wrong with the one you’ve got“, she’d say.