I noticed a strange and unexpected thing recently. I never paid attention to details of pencils because I had assumed if a pencil is from a well known brand, they would be consistent for same series.
I bought Faber Castell 5B (12 piece) pencils of 9000 series, which came in a bit old cardboard/hard paper box. Its date of first availability was around 2010 on Amazon. The 12 pencil costed me about 6 USD.
I already have some other pencils like HB to 8B, which were part of a set of 6 pencils, and came in a metallic box. For this question, let's take example of only one, 8B. Its date of first availability was around 2019 on Amazon. 6 pencils also costed me about 6 USD (strange that per pencil price is double here).
8B has a bit different in terms of look and feel of printed text. I mean the information and branding is exactly same for both 5B and 8B. But there are slight differences in thickness of fonts and color of the golden painted ring (which is at the end of pencil).
In case of 8B, the ring was a bit golden color and for 5B it was bit silver like.
For 5B, the green color was a bit unsaturated (like bit black green). And the green color was not smooth on pencil. It was obvious that they weren't dried properly after coloring was done because I can see the green color spots inside the paper/card box.
For 8B, it was like fresh and bright green (subtle difference, not sure you'd notice in the images) and there was no as such problem of coloring. They look like more finished.
You can see some of the differences in following images:
So all these things make me guess that despite having same series, the 5B were manufactured years ago and 8B were manufactured recently. I don't know, but these personal evidences make me really feel so. (I don't have any clear proof so I guess I have no right to make a strict statement on it).
Now comes the more important thing. The wood.
8B felt a bit better when I was sharpening them with sharpener. The wood was a bit whiter than the 5B and smooth too. 5B wood was breaking easily in parts and wasn't smooth. You can notice the difference in following pencils:
This difference was a bit significant and made me eventually ask this question.
One alternate theory that could explain this is: 5Bs are manufactured locally in my country and it's a duplicate product. But that's highly unlikely. Because I did not notice any problem in working of pencils. Worked just like other grades. Further the reviews on Amazon are excellent for both pencils.
I have to buy 2 or 3 more grades (12 each) and now I'm just thinking if I should go with what's available irrespective of quality of wood. Or if it's actually a quality problem, I would try to find the latest ones somewhere (if I could). So your views would help me know things better.
Like I had said, I had believed that if a pencil is made by well known brand, it would be consistent in terms of quality. But now I'm really curious. If even a well known brand can have manufacturing faults and still end up in market.
So is it possible that with such a time span of manufacturing, say a decade, the wood used in newer ones could be a bit better? Or alternatively, maybe the wood in older pencils turned a bit bad with time?
PS: I have nothing against Faber Castell or any particular brand. It's just I noticed these unexpected wood differences, which were very obvious. So I just want to go into details to know some truth.