Made in China


Tiger’s Blackwing 11

You might have noticed that it’s been very quiet here on Bleistift. That’s not because I lost interest in pencils, but because my job has been keeping me more than busy. Just in case you wonder – no: I didn’t change jobs and didn’t get promoted. In the past, there were up to fifteen blog posts a month, but for now, probably up to and including January there won’t be many blog posts. I might also have to suspend the Pencil Pot of the Month series for now. A shame as it has been running continuously for exactly 24 months – the two years from October 2015 until September 2017. I will, however, try to give occasional life signs every now and then, like I do today, until blogging can resume again as usual.

Since we’re talking about the Pencil Pot of the Month: the one from August 2016 was from the Danish chain ‘Tiger’1 which has a shop in the city where I live. The last purchase I made there was Tiger’s version of the Blackwing pencil.

Tiger’s Blackwing

In today’s ‘life sign’ I want to talk about this new Blackwing copy. If you read pencil blogs, and if you are here you do, the Blackwing probably doesn’t need any introduction. CalCedar’s remake of the Blackwing doesn’t need any introduction either. Well, now it’s not the only remake anymore. As mentioned aboveTiger, also known as Flying Tiger Copenhagen, introduced one, too.

Tiger’s Blackwing

In the introduction I wrote that I am quite busy, so am not following what’s going on in the pencil fandom (with very few exceptions). That’s why I didn’t know that there seems to be some controversy going on about the new Danish Blackwing remake. I was told that apparently, some CalCedar/Palomino Blackwing fanboys are pretty upset about there being a copy of the Blackwing. I don’t know what arguments have been made or where they have been made, but here are my initial thoughts after having used the Danish Blackwing for a while.

Ship of Theseus

We could start by talking about the Ship of Theseus and what makes the CalCedar Blackwing2 a descendant of the original, but in reality I don’t see much of a link.

Well, what happened is: the Theseus sunk. Somebody else registered another ship under the same name.

Here’s why. There used to be a pencil called Blackwing. The company behind it stopped making this pencil. The owner of the trademark didn’t renew the trademark so it lapsed. An unrelated company took the trademark and manufactured a similar looking pencil, the main similarity being the characteristic ferrule. The lead recipe is different. It’s made in a completely different country. There is no continuity, nothing that links the original and the remake except the name ..and with me being German I am automatically reminded of the German saying “names are but noise and smoke”3.

A real Blackwing and Tiger’s Blackwing

The Theseus example doesn’t apply because the original Theseus sunk. There’s a new Theseus. There’s a new Blackwing. In the end York and New York have more of a link4 than the Blackwing and the new Blackwing.

CalCedar’s contribution

My point here is: don’t complain that Tiger’s pencil is a copy of the Blackwing. The new Blackwing from CalCedar/Palomino is itself only a copy with no link to the original.

What CalCedar did do is bring a pencil (that was previously mainly known to pencileers, molyvophiles5 and molyvologues6 through anecdotes and the odd poem) to the mass market. In my 2010 blog post I wrote that the new Blackwing might become the new Moleskine. With its price tag I think it must have an even higher profit margin than a Moleskine – and like the Moleskine you can now buy the new Blackwing on the high street in the UK. Something the original Blackwing never achieved. I guess that’s the power of marketing – you create a link to something greater in people’s mind and make it a Veblen good. People who wouldn’t have bought 3B, 4B, 5B pencils in the past are happy to pay a premium and because of the characteristic ferrule it’s easy to show off that it’s a posh pencil.

 Tiger’s Blackwing

With that in mind, I think the Danish Blackwing is as much a modern Blackwing as the CalCedar one. Actually, I like it even more than the CalCedar remake, because it actually keeps the point. Something I don’t like about the Palomino Blackwing, as explained earlier. If you write small with Tiger’s Blackwing you don’t have to sharpen it every few words often. Ok, the wood on the Danish7 one doesn’t look as good, but I can buy 4 for £1, so 12 are £3, whereas 12 CalCedar ones are £29.95 in the UK, nearly exactly ten times as expensive. For such a price difference I take the one that keeps the point ..and is therefore usable for my purposes8 any day.

PS: What a shame that Tiger didn’t put 602 in the item or barcode number, then I could have referred to the Tiger Blackwing as a 602.


If you want to find out more about the Blackwing and its history visit the Blackwing Pages.

 

  1. Outside our store is labelled Tiger, but the in-store newsletter refers to the company as Flying Tiger Copenhagen []
  2. ..which I will refer to as the new Blackwing []
  3. apparently this saying is from Goethe []
  4. They used to be ruled by the same empire []
  5. Someone passionate about pencils (see this post) []
  6. A student of pencils (see this post) []
  7. ..but Made in China []
  8. Your mileage may vary. If you are an artist you might be after a different pencil than me. []

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II 7

There were a few great blog posts about Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil on Sean’s (retired) Pencils and Music blog and the (also retired) Pencil Talk blog had a whole series of blog posts about the different versions.

I have used Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil for quite a few years now and have mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I thought the blog posts I have don’t pay adequate tribute to this great pencil, so here is a closer look (I don’t dare to call it a review) at the cheapest version available.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

The Perfect Pencil II

Officially called the Perfect Pencil II, but sometimes called the Perfect Pencil junior (for example at Cult Pens while The Journal Shop calls it Perfect Pencil II) this pencil was released in 2007. There are different colours available (blue, red, black, blackberry – the article number starts with 18 29, followed by another number for the colour) and this pencil can be bought for £3 (~$3.95; €3.55) or less. I bought mine in Shanghai and I think I paid the equivalent of £2 or less.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

Like the more expensive perfect pencils it can be used as

  • a cap to protect the pencil point, making the pencil pocket safe
  • as an extender to write more comfortable with short pencils

and it features a built-in sharpener.

It is best to be used with eraser tipped pencils and official refills are shorter than normal so that the perfect pencil fits in shirt pockets etc.

It’s not bad looking, but for my taste the Castell version is much better looking ..and less bulky, but also a few times more expensive, so more of a problem when you lose it (I lost mine after a few years of use).

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II and Animail envelope

The Perfect Pencil’s history

The first perfect pencil, the brainchild of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell,  was part of the Graf von Faber-Castell line and came out in 1993. Back then the eraser was in the extender.

1997 Faber-Castell released more affordable perfect pencils (the Castell and Design versions are still available) and a year later the posh Graf von Faber-Castell perfect pencil changed to the more familiar version with the eraser under a small cap.

The perfect pencil line in 1997

The perfect pencil line in 1997

A very simple perfect pencil time line

A very simple perfect pencil time line

 

Here’s a video where I look at the Perfect Pencil II.

I suggest you click on it to open it in YouTube, you then get a higher resolution and you can play it with a higher speed on most devices (I like 1.5x). This video also looks at how products in China are marked (origin and date) and shows Shangching‘s Tomoe River notebook I use for diagrams in this blog.

Other manufacturers have released similar products.

Have a look at the Pencil Revolution’s review of Staedtler’s The Pencil and the KUM Tip-Top Pop Pencil.

More Perfect Pencils

If you want to move up to a more expensive version I recommend the Castell version, which can be bought for under £10 (~$13.15; €11.80). I have previously looked at the black edition of the Castell Perfect Pencil.

There is also the more direct successor available, the Perfect Pencil III, bulkier, but with a built-in waste box. The cheapest seller I found in the UK so far is the Journal Shop where it sells for £3.95.

If you like to read more about the perfect pencil: Here are more Perfect Pencils at other blogs

John the Monkey compared the Perfect Pencil II and the Castell version.

Lung Sketching Scrolls had a look at the Fun version seen in the image of the brochure above.

Pens! Paper! Pencils had a look at the Castell version.

Economy Pens had a look at the Castell version.

The Well-Appointed Desk had a look at the Perfect Pencil II.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II


Exchange rates: July 2016 (post-Brexit vote exchange rate)

As usual: please open the images in a a new tab to see the high-res version.

I would like to thank Faber-Castell’s Edith Luther for the additional information she has provided.


Two deliveries – from Japan and Germany 2

uniqlo-tombow

What an exciting day. I got two deliveries, one from Japan and one from Germany.

Both seem to be XL... (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

Both seem to be XL… (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

The parcel from Japan was sent from Yumiko, a friend of Sean, who helped me get a few things I couldn’t order myself …including Uniqlo’s Tombow t-shirts. I was able to get the Pelikan version here in Europe, but the Tombow version is not being sold here.

I was hoping that the Japanese XL will be similar in size to the European XL, especially since the t-shirts being sold here come with English/Japanese tags, but unfortunately it turned out that the Japanese XL is at least one size smaller than the European version – so the t-shirts won’t fit unless I lose a lot of weight. I guess I should see this as my incentive to lose more weight ..but I don’t think it’s achievable for me to fit into these anytime soon.

...the tags are different though

…the tags are different though

There was also something else in the parcel. Something very special.

Special Hi-uni

Not as posh as the ones shown on Contrapuntalism, but nevertheless extremely nice. Lexikaliker had similar ones, too.

 

The other parcel did contain a replacement Pollux. You might remember that had problems with my first Pollux. Thanks to Lexikaliker, without whom I wouldn’t have any Pollux, I got a replacement

Here’s a quick look at the replacement Pollux.

As a comparison: the second video features a knife sharpened pencil. You can also see Staedtler’s sand paper in the second video.

 

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph


Lexikaliker has a blog post about the unsharpened Mars Lumograph pencils.


Tombow and Pelikan 3

I have been wondering for a while why all the supermarkets here in the UK sell t-shirts with ‘brand advertising’ – these days mainly Star Wars, but you can also find other brands, like Coca Cola or Volkswagen – while there are no stationery themed t-shirts.

Well, Uniqlo to the rescue! When I moved to the UK in 2001 you could still see this brand outside London, but in the UK it now it seems to be restricted to very few locations. My wife said that there was an article in The Economist explaining that there UK presence actually has the main aim of improving Uniqlo’s reputation for their Asian  customers.

One of Uniqlo's Pelikan T-shirts

One of Uniqlo’s Pelikan T-shirts

Anyway, they are offering currently Pelikan and Tombow themed t-shirts, you can see them here. Unfortunately the Tombow themed t-shirts didn’t make it to Europe, at least not to the UK or Germany …but the Pelikan t-shirts are available over here.


You can find more Pelikan-themed blog posts in the Pelikan category.


Pencil Pot Of The Month – January 2016

My Pencil mug

My Pencil mug

mypencil-happyhour

Description: A glazed ceramic mug

Material: Ceramic

Further information: I bought this mug in December in Carrefour in Shanghai’s HongKou Dragon Dream Shopping Centre for ¥14.90 (~$2.25; £1.60; €2.10). The print on the mug says “My Pencil” on one side and “Happy Hour” on the other.


Price: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

Please also have a look at Lexikaliker’s pencil pot of the month.