The original inventor of the mechanical pencil is up for debate. There are documented references to a lead-holding pencil as early as 1565, and the earliest known version of what is now considered the modern mechanical pencil was found in 1791. There are also many patents for different versions.
The first patent recorded for a mechanical pencil was filed in England in 1822. Sampson Mordon and Gabriel Riddle invented what was essentially a refillable lead holder. In 1860, German inventor A.W. Faber created a holder that was more hollow than the original and able to fit longer pieces of lead. He then created a twist locking-clutch mechanism a year later. In 1906, Croatian inventor Slavoljub Eduard Pankala registered a patent for what he called an automatic pencil, and in 1915, two different men registered patents in two different countries. The first was Tokuji Hayakawa in Japan, who had created a screw-based mechanism and a metal shaft. The second, American inventor Charles Keeran, developed a ratchet-based mechanism to feed the lead through the pencil. The gradual developments and improvements, which took place over nearly 100 years, contributed to what is now the modern mechanical pencil.