I get why there is a market for fake luxury pens, but creating fake versions of affordable pens seems rather ridiculous. In this case the pencil being copied costs less than £1. Yes, you could argue that £1 is much more than what you’d pay for a no name pencil …but if you think about how long a pencil lasts (when you use it the way it is supposed to be used i.e. writing or drawing on paper, I mention this because if you use pencils e.g. to mark wood it won’t last very long, so a Lumograph might not be the best choice for that) then I have to say that the Lumograph is excellent value for money. You can enjoy writing with an excellent pencil for weeks or months for much less than what a coffee costs on the high street.
Bleistift blog reader Koralatov made me aware that fake Lumographs are being sold on eBay and I couldn’t resist ordering a pack to have a closer look.
The fake Lumographs come in a Staedtler Box. In Europe the Lumograph usually not being sold in this box, but, and this was new to me, Staedtler confirmed that in Asia you can actually buy the Lumograph in this box.
Some of the information on the box doesn’t make sense for a graphite pencil. The lead protection that is being mentioned on the box (the triangular red logo you can see on the photo above) is a technology that is being used for coloured pencils, not for graphite pencils, so certainly has no place on Lumograph packaging.
The wood being used is very(!) different to the one being used for real Lumographs. It is very pale, we’re talking basswood pale or even more pale.
The hardness is only printed on one side of the end of the pencil instead of being printed on all sides. Some pencils don’t have the hardness printed at all and for most pencils the indentation around the hardness is very deep, as if they have been stamped too hard.
The fake pencils are being sold as Chinese made factory seconds. Staedtler does produce the Lumograph in Asia, but it is made in Indonesia with German Leads. The real Indonesian Lumograph pencils are marked with “German Lead” instead of “Made in Germany” and use cheaper wood, like Jelutong. They are also sold in other Asian markets, as seen at this link.
Suffice to say that these fake Lumographs are very scratchy, even the soft degrees, and are not nice to use at all.
I started by consulting Ana’s refill guide to look for some nice refills.
It didn’t take long to pick some cool stuff for my order, not only refills, also a new pen (the Jetstream Edge in white). To get free postage with my order I also picked a few more refills with the intention of improving my wife’s Lamy 2000 multipen (the original Lamy ballpoint refills often skip when you start writing).
What did I order? Jetstream refills, I like them based on my positive experience with them from the Hobonichi pens and from my Jetstream 4 in 1. I also got some Zebra refills. I haven’t used them myself but bought them before to go with a pen I gave someone as a gift.
When trying to fit the Zebra refills into the Lamy 2000 there was big disappointment. They didn’t fit. A quick look at the end revealed that the Lamy refills are slightly slimmer. Maybe D1 isn’t quite as standardised as I thought. I have to admit though that I don’t have much D1 experience as I generally prefer pencils and fountain pens.
A quick check with the callipers revealed that there are minute differences in the diameter. The Lamy M21 diameter is 2.32 mm, the Zebra JSB 0.5 diameter is 2.36 mm. 0.04 mm (0.0016 inches) difference. I also measured the Uni SXR-200-07 which turned out to have a diameter of 2.33 mm. Even though the Zebra didn’t fit the Lamy 2000 I managed to squeeze it into the Rotring 600. That left me with the uni for the Lamy 2000. The refill is only 0.01 mm wider but that was enough the turn a relaxing Sunday drive refill with butterflies (and the Loving You song in the background) into a heavy metal squeeze fest (with some Rammstein song playing from a broken stereo) with thoughts in my head that the Lamy 2000 will crumble under all the pressure. In the end it did, luckily, work. According to my own refill guide the D1 diameter is 2.35 mm. Who would have thought a fraction of a millimetre makes such a difference…
Since I talked about Holbein: Radio 4’s book of the week happens to be about him: The King’s Painter: The Life and Times and Hans Holbein.
I was told that the 511 120 is already available in shops, but here in the UK we are just coming out of lockdown so I have not had a chance yet to see this sharpener in the wild Mine was sent from Germany..
The 511 120 is a nice addition to the Noris line in the Noris anniversary year. You can see it in action in the video below.
There are also some news in the Noris anniversary year that are good for Helmut and bad for stationery fans at the same time. Helmut Hufnagl, the designer of the 511 120 and many other exciting Staedtler products, is starting his well-deserved retirement at the end of this month. If you are interested in functional and affordable stationery have a look at this list of blog posts that mentions some of the products he designed.