Month: October 2010

Graphite in the news

Pencils made it into the news this week.

You might have heard about this year’s Nobel prize for physics. In 2004 Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov started removing layers of graphite from pencil leads  …which eventually led to the Nobel prize for their work on experimenting with graphene. Here is also an older article about graphene with the catchy name ‘Black Hole in a Pencil’.

From the world of science to entertainment:

Do you remember A-ha’s music video with the pencil drawings? That was 25 years ago (time flies, doesn’t it). In time for this anniversary: an article about this music video.

Palomino Blackwing

I was quite excited when I received some of the new Palomino Blackwings yesterday. I sharpened one in my Deli 0635 pencil sharpener and took it to the office. Later that day I tried the Palomino Blackwing out, writing a word or two and was amazed: The pencil was incredibly smooth, very dark and did not smear as much as expected from such a soft pencil. In the afternoon I took it to a meeting to take some notes, but when I tried to use it in a real life situation I became disillusioned pretty fast. I found it necessary to constantly rotate the pencil to keep the point from becoming too wide. I usually use very few pressure and in this case, too, I used very few pressure (this type of pressure and angle normally does not even make the Kuru Toga engine revolve), still the point was just eroding away more and more.

T-Prime and Palomino BW. More in common than the eraser colour.
The 602 after one line

This behaviour is very different to a Blackwing 602, which will keep the point for much longer. The Palomino Blackwing did actually remind me of another pencil I like, the TiTi T-Prime B (previously mentioned here). Both are very dark, very soft, the Palomino Blackwing even more so, but both are not pencils I would like to pick up when I have to write something, just because they use up so fast that they need constant sharpening.

The Palomino BW after one line

Please do no think that this is supposed to be an objective review. Without specialist equipment to replicate the same conditions this is obviously not possible, e.g. applying the same pressure. (In a previous blog post Lexikaliker mentioned two devices that would do just that, the Elcometer 501 and 3086). Despite my unscientific approach: the thickness of the lines in the beginning and the end should give an indication of what I tried to describe. The pencils were sharpened using a Möbius + Ruppert’s grenade. The paper is from Rhodia (Bloc Rhodia Nº 13).

The 602 keeps a finer point longer

The Palomino Blackwing is a great pencil, one of the smoothest pencils I have ever used …I just find it too impractical for writing small text (my lower-case letters are usually 2mm (1/16″) high). It might be better suited for other tasks, such as drawing or writing large letters, where you need a thicker line. Who knows, the Palomino Blackwing might still become a success story despite this problem, maybe it will be the new Moleskine. Moleskine’s paper does not seem to be the best for fountain pens, but we all know how popular it is today. I was told that in Chinese fairy tales the beautiful girl is usually ‘a bit ill’, which is supposed to make her even more ‘precious’. This reminds me of Moleskine and the Palomino Blackwing.

  • I would like to thank Sean for the Blackwings.
  • I would like to thank Kent for the TiTi T-Prime B.
  • The Blackwing 602 used in this comparison is the version with U.S.A. printed on the body, but without the black stripe on the ferrule.
  • I referred to the Elcometer and a blog post from Lexikaliker. These devices move a pencil over a surface under a fixed pressure and angle to the surface. The purpose of these tests, scratch hardness tests (Wolff-Willborn tests) is actually to determine the resistance of coating materials or lacquers to scratch effects on the surface, not to test the pencils themselves.

Staedtler Inspiration No. 176

3 October 2010 was not only the 20th anniversary of the German reunification, but also the 175th anniversary of Staedtler [1]Even though Staedtler’s history goes back further, 3 October 1835 is the official ‘birthday’ as it is the first day Staedtler can trace their business back to without interruptions. It was also the last date of their “Fascination of Writing” exhibition.

Happy Birthday Staedtler!

You might have already read about this exhibition at Lexikaliker (Google translation of this article), but I just discovered that there is an article about this exhibition in Staedtler’s latest newsletter Inspiration No. 176 (from August 2010).

To celebrate this special year Staedtler released a 175th anniversary pencil set. You can read more about it at pencil talk.


1 Even though Staedtler’s history goes back further, 3 October 1835 is the official ‘birthday’ as it is the first day Staedtler can trace their business back to without interruptions