On This Day – August 04 : French painter Nicolas-Jacques Conté was born on this day in 1755


He developed a method for making pencil leads, by mixing powdered graphite with clay and firing the mixture in a kiln. This method is still used to make pencils today. Until this point, pencil leads were made from pure graphite sticks that could only be imported to France from Cumbria in the UK. By varying the ratio of clay and graphite powder, the hardness of the pencil lead could also be changed.

Type of Activity

group work, working independently




What happened today in chemistry? Explore 366 days of chemistry history at On This Day in Chemistry, an RSC Learn Chemistry site. rsc.li/chemistry-calendar