Made in Germany


The Lamy Horror Picture Show 4

Think of a random number between 1 and 1000.

No, really. Please do.

Ok, now multiply this number by 3 and remember it.

Well, imagine the shock I got when I recently had a closer look at my Lamy 2000.

Lamy 2000 exploded view

Cleaning my Lamy in expectance of the new ink

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is ‘Not shocked at all’ and ’10’ is censored because of the expletives uttered, the number representing my shock was slightly higher than the number I just asked you to remember.

It all started with me happily going about my daily business and cleaning my Lamy 2000 (with an EF nib) in expectance of a Robert Oster ink from Kirit Dal, one of Robert Oster’s UK resellers.

When an ink ‘stain’ at the front of the Lamy’s grip section didn’t want to disappear I had a closer look and after moving the end of my fingernail over the ‘stain’ I started to have an ominous suspicion. Not much later the aforementioned shock happened1.

You’d think I’m a broken man now, looking back at the excitement and fun I once experienced when using fountain pens, but not able to have any joy anymore going forward from now on. The reality is different. I’ve come to stoically accept that mark on the grip section as something that makes this Lamy 2000 different to all its anonymous siblings that left Lamy’s conveyor belt since 1966. It is something, together with a dent on its body, that makes this Lamy mine. Who knows, maybe deep down, in some illogical part of the brain, I might even be a tiny bit ‘proud’ that I have my own unique Lamy 2000 now…


I am sorry for showing you all these gory details, especially after just showing you horrific pencil mutilations in the previous blog post. I guess you might be more careful form now on, avoiding to look at my blog anymore while eating food.

In case you’ve been sick over your pen collection while looking at these gory photos: I’ve heard that baking soda might eliminate the odour, but I haven’t tried it myself yet.

I thought of combining this blog post with a look at the ink I was expecting, but I didn’t do it because I thought someone who doesn’t read carefully and only looks at the pictures might that the ink I was expecting caused the issue. To avoid this the Oster ink I was expecting (cleaning the pen to be ready for this ink) will be covered in a separate blog post.

I have a suspicion which previously used ink might have caused the issue, but as I am not sure it was really that ink I don’t want to mention the brand in this blog post.

  1. Well, where are the smelling salts and the defibrillator when you need them. []

Lamy dialog 3 and the discontinued wooden case 2

It was about eight years ago when I first came across the Lamy dialog 3.

From dislike to like

Back then I didn’t like it. I thought it is too big and modern ..but somehow, over the years, I warmed up to it, more and more – up to the point when I started to actively want one.

Funnily enough, my wife’s favourite ballpoint pen, the pico, is from the same designer: Franco Clivio. Both, the pico and the dialog 3 have a similar shape, a bit like a test tube, but round on both ends.

Price variations (£99 – £250)

Well, I didn’t think I’d get a new >£100 fountain pen in the next few years, but somehow (actually because of Christmas) it did happen. Well, I say >£100 fountain pen, but WH Smith is regularly selling the palladium version with an M nib for £99 (~$122; €114), but most shops will charge you £200 – £250 for this pen. The one I got for Christmas was also a cheap one, that’s why I got an F nib. I would have preferred an EF nib, but there was no EF version available for a good price. I can always buy an EF nib if I want and it would have still been a very good price compared to the RRP.
The whole price situation of the dialog 3 reminds me of the blue Pelikan M605 – every few years Kaufhof seems to sell it for a good price. I paid €99 (~$105; £85) for mine.

The nib

There have been many blog posts looking at this pen, with the one from Dries being one of the latest ones, so I don’t see a need to write more about the pen itself. Instead, I want to tell you that the nib on my dialog 3 is the smoothest nib I have ever used (and I have used quite a few gold nibs over the years). As I haven’t seen too many raving reviews about this nib I am not sure whether all of Lamy’s Z55 gold nibs or even all Z55 F nibs are that good, but mine is excellent. As described in Ian’s review here this nib can be used in all modern Lamys except the Lamy 2000.

The nib is however not only smooth, it also has a pleasant amount of springiness. I have seen nibs advertised as flexible that offer less line variation than this nib.

The case

The dialog 3 used to come with a wooden case. Lamy stopped supplying the case, but many shops still advertise the pen as coming in this case, so that might be old stock.

According to Lamy, the wooden case is not being offered anymore. I suspect the case was stopped when the dialog 3 was redesigned (there were some complaints about the pen drying out soon in the original version).

If you want to get the wooden case the only way to get it now, as far as I know, is to buy it used or to find old stock. My pen didn’t come with the case so I had to get it separately.

I tried to make a short film showing my dialog 3 (and the case), but I guess I shouldn’t make a car (to pull the camera) from some toys lying around in the living room. The owner of the toys came to get them back during filming…

Well, before I finish the blog post, here’s a picture of the ‘camera car’ that was used for the film, now you know why he wanted it back…

Camers car made out of Duplos

Camera car made out of Duplos

 


Exchange rates: January 2017

You can read more about the dialog 3 at The Pencilcase Blog,  Pentorium, Goulet Pen’s blogThe Clicky Post, The Gold Standard, No Pen Intended, The Well-Appointed Desk,  Writer’s Bloc, The Silent Cartographer, and even Wired.


Visiting Kaweco in Nuremberg 4

End of last year I had the opportunity to get a tour of Kaweco’s premises in Nuremberg, lead by none other than Sebastian Gutberlet himself. He is the son of Michael Gutberlet – the man who brought Kaweco back in the 1990s.

Sebastian Gutberlet

Kaweco did offer a tour of their premises at the time the Insights X trade fair was on, but back then I didn’t have the time to take this offer up.

The museum contains many pens from Kaweco’s past

 

..as well as more modern items from Kaweco’s recent history

 

The offices and the factory are actually just next to Nuremberg’s convention centre. They will soon house a shop and a museum, too.

Old Kaweco pens in the museum

 

Old machines in the museum

As you might know, Kaweco used to be based in Heidelberg (where Lamy is), but since Michael Gutberlet brought it back to life in the 1990s it is based in Nuremberg (where Staedtler and many other stationery manufacturers are).

..and old materials that were used to make pens

 

Sebastian demonstrating how the old machines worked

The factory visit was actually supposed to take place a few days earlier, but illness meant that our family’s trip to Germany was delayed. Luckily we were able to rebook the ferry. Kaweco was happy to accommodate, but as the tour now took place on 23rd December, with December 24th being kind of the most important Christmas day around here, there were no workers in the factory assembling pens and I couldn’t see (or film) the machines in action.

No workers that day, so I didn’t see the machines being used by professionals

Parts for assembling pens

That was a shame, I would have loved to see how fast workers are assembling Kaweco pens. At least I’ve seen this type of machine in action before ..when Kaweco let visitors assemble their own pens at Insights X.

Sebastian Gutberlet wasn’t the only Sebastian in the room….

In case you wonder: the plastic parts for the pens aren’t made at this location. They are designed by Kaweco but outsourced as you’d need a lot of expenditure for machines etc if you’d want to make all the parts yourself. The parts are however all coming back to Nuremberg to be assembled here. Depending on how big the batch or order is the pens can also be engraved here.

More vintage pens from the museum

 

Except housing the machines these premises also include the warehouse, which was busy because annual stocktaking was just taking place.

Hmm, the shelves must be full of stationery goodies

 

Even more goodies. Can I stay overnight?

Even more goodies. Can I stay overnight?

Since we were in Nuremberg anyway and it was just before Christmas we used to opportunity to visit Nuremberg’s Christmas market, probably the most famous one in Germany. By the way, Sebastian’s Ewok hat in the following picture from Nuremberg’s Christmas market that day was handmade by Shangching from East…West…Everywhere.

At Nuremberg's Christmas market

At Nuremberg’s Christmas market

We had a great day visiting Kaweco and Nuremberg. I hope I will have a chance to go back there once the museum and shop are officially open.


Tree Top Path & Linden Pencils 2

I was still writing blog posts about my trip to Germany when Insights X and other things happened, so I never finished the blog posts about my time in Germany. Here’s my conclusion with a short post about pencils made from linden (lime) wood:

I had a great time – and it’s all Gunther’s ‘fault’: I never heard of tree top paths until I read about them on his blog. Well, recently a tree top path opened near my old home town and remembering Gunther’s blog post I couldn’t resist and visited.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

Unlike the tree top path Gunther visited, this one, the Baumwipfelpfad Steigerwald, opens up towards the top, so it looks a bit like a tornado. When I was there the weather was great (nearly 30°C (>85°F)) and everyone liked it. After the walk (which took quite a while) I had a look in the little souvenir shop and was more than excited to see the linden wood (lime wood) pencils from the Bavarian State Forestry that Gunther mentioned in a blog post.

WoodAverage Dried WeightJanka Hardness
Incense Cedar385 kg/m32090 N
Jelutong450 kg/m31740 N
Basswood415 kg/m31824 N
European Lime535 kg/m33100 N

As you can see in this table with information the Wood Database European linden wood is quite a bit harder than other wood used for making pencils (Brasswood is American linden wood), so I am not surprised that this isn’t a common wood for pencils. At least not anymore. As described in Gunther’s blog post it was common in the 17th century. The average dried weight of European linden wood is a bit higher than other wood as is the Janka Hardness1. I assume you could treat the wood to change the hardness, but my assumption is that trying to influence the hardness too much wouldn’t be economical.

These pencils were made by Staedtler. As far as I know they use Bavarian graphite, but the clay is from another German state. With the wood being from Lower Franconia this is a nearly 100% Bavarian pencil.

Bavarian Linden Pencils

Here’s a video from the Bavarian State Forestry (in German) showing how these are made – from cutting the tree to the finished pencil. Interesting fact: in the video a Staedtler employee explains that they can get 2,000 – 10,000 pencils out of one tree.

Well, they made 100,000 pencils like this. Now there are a few less left as I couldn’t resist and bought a handful in the tree top path’s souvenir shop.


You can read more about the company where the wood is cut into slats in another blog post from Gunther.

 

  1. The amount of pounds-force (lbf) or newtons (N) required to imbed a .444″ (11.28 mm) diameter steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter – see http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/janka-hardness/ []

More Staedtler at Insights X 2016 9

As mentioned in the previous blog post about the updated Mars technico 780C I want to show a few of the other new Staedtler products. This is the second of two blog posts about Staedtler at Insights X 2016.

Metal sharpeners

The well-known metal sharpeners 510 10 and 510 20 (double hole) are now also available in a range of metallic colours. You can read about the golden anniversary edition in this blog post and about the change to the Wopex friendly version in this blog post.

Some of the new metallic colours

Some of the new metallic colours

I think these sharpeners should be available any day now. I am not sure about the price but assume it won’t be very different to the existing 510 sharpeners.

 

Mess free pencil case sharpeners

staedtler-insightsx-3

Zipped pencil cases, like the leather one shown here or the very affordable one shown here, are very common in continental Europe. The problem though is that the sharpeners that fit in these cases tend to make a mess as they don’t have a container.

staedtler-insightsx-4

You obviously don’t sharpen over your pencil case, but a bit of graphite will still stick to the sharpener and ‘pollute’ the pencil case over time.

staedtler-insightsx-2

The new plastic sharpeners aim at solving this problem by also closing the holes of the sharpeners while trying to keep the size to a minimum so that it still fits into these pencil cases.

...in my Eberhard Faber pencil case

…in my Eberhard Faber pencil case

This new sharpener, 512 60C, should be available from January 2017 for €1.80 (~$1.95; £1.60).

 

‘Geometric compasses’

I previously mentioned there is also new set of compasses that

  • convey the idea of geometry through basic geometric forms and that
  • convey the idea of colour through a special paint.

Well, unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of these compasses when I was at the Staedtler stand. Sorry.

 

Rulers and set squares for right and left handed use

I was only able to take a photo of the 30cm rulers for right and left handed use, article number 562 300 PB, but there is also a set of two 15cm rulers and a geometry set (set square, ..) for right and left handed use. The rulers will sell for €1 (~$1.10; 90p), the geometry set for €2 (~$2.20; £1.80).

Ruler 562 300 PB

Ruler 562 300 PB

The Noris eco in 2H, H, HB, B and 2B

Well, of course, I saved the best till last. We’re finally getting some pencils made from Wopex material in different grades!

You might remember that, despite being a fan of the Wopex, for example, because it doesn’t exhibit graphite transfer issues like other pencils, I was quite disappointed with the previous 2B and 2H Wopex – just because there was virtually no difference between the different grades.

The Noris eco in five grades

The Noris eco in five grades

The good news is that the new version of the Noris eco, available in five grades, seems to have solved this issue. I believe that they are still working on improving the ‘lead recipe’ even further, but the new grades will be available early next year.