If you ever go to Shanghai you should visit FuZhou Road. This road is famous for its book stores (including the Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore), but you will also find many stationery shops there. After seeing the sheer number of different stationery shops, focussing mainly on calenders, note books, diaries, tools used for Chinese calligraphy (like brushes, paper, inkstones) and stationery, you might be disappointed when you actually want to buy stationery: the choice is smaller than expected because many of the shops sell exactly the same items. Other places in Shanghai that sell stationery are big supermarkets (Carrefour, E-mart) or small stationery shops you can normally find near universities.
Keyroad, a relatively new shop on FuZhou Road, is offering items quite different to those offered in the more old-fashioned stationery shops nearby. Targeting Japanophile students, only about half of the space is used for stationery, the other half is used for things like mugs, gloves, toys, etc. Most of these other items are for girls, quite expensive, cute and conjure up associations with Japan, Korea or Taiwan.
The selection of sharpeners was not overwhelming, with the focus on cute looking sharpeners, but to my delight I found a rotary sharpener for only ¥ 25 (£ 2.40, € 2.70, $ 3.70). It is model 0635 from Deli, a stationery manufacturer established in 1988 and employing more than 2000 staff. The sharpener has one burr cylinder and even includes a spring-driven holder for the pencil. There is no desk clamp and no regulator for sharpness or point, but I do not think anybody would mind at this price.
The waste container even includes a prism sharpener in case you need to sharpen oil or wax based pencils as they are not suitable for rotary sharpeners. The manual of the sharpener is in Chinese and English, but the English is rather poor and difficult to understand.
Performance-wise the Deli 0635 is excellent. The point is very long, even longer than one from a KUM Automatic Long Point. This is a problem for pencils with very soft graphite leads, for colour pencils or for pencil users who use a lot of pressure when writing or drawing, as the point might brake easily. I have not yet had any problems with the point of graphite leads braking, but I stopped using the Deli 0635 with colour pencils. Even the ones with harder leads, like the Mitsubishi Vermilion and Prussian Blue will brake easily when writing if you are not very careful.
This is an excellent sharpener at such a low price. As it is a cylindrical cutter it should last quite a while without getting blunt. More expensive sharpeners have a desk clamp and let you adjust whether you want a long or short point, but if you like a sharp point and do not want to clamp your sharpener (I assume most people don’t) the Deli 0635 offers fantastic value for money.
Exchange rates: February 2010