Jospeph Dixon (1799-1869) was an inventor, entrepreneur and the founder of Dixon Crucible Co. (later, the Dixon Ticonderoga Company), a well-known manufacturer of pencils in the United States.
In 1827, Joseph Dixon began his business in Salem, at his home on North Street, and, with his son, was involved with the Tantiusques granite mine in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Dixon discovered the merits of graphite as a stove polish and an additive in lubricants, foundry facings, brake linings, oil-less bearings, and non-corrosive paints.
He also refined the use of graphite crucibles, (refractory vessels used for melting metallic minerals). A heat-resistant graphite crucible he invented was widely used in the production of iron and steel during the Mexican-American War. This invention's success led Dixon to built a New Jersey crucible factory in 1847.
The North Salem legend is that Dixon started to make lead pencils by hand in the "Pencil House" on North Street, and went door to door selling them. Dixon's other interests were printing, lithography and optics.
The pencil's name was inspired by Fort Ticonderoga in New York, since the inventor's father fought there. The company is now a subsidiary of FILA S.p.A, a manufacturer of school and art supplies based out of Milan, Italy.
Vertical File in Salem Collection - Firsts (Salem)
"Talents of Dixon, Salem Pencil Maker, included printing, lithography, optics" Salem Evening News, June 1, 1945, p. 2
"Salem is birthplace of lead pencil" Salem Evening News, May 17, 1945
"Inventors thrived on North Shore" Salem News, Sept. 5, 2011, p. 5
Legendary Locals of Salem Curley, Malcolm, and Dionne, p. 82 (including drawing of J. Dixon)
Sharpen Up-Salem's Pencil History J. Curley on Salem Patch site