Monthly Archives: November 2010


Simbalion Graphic Pencils 3

Einszweidrei! im Sauseschritt
Läuft die Zeit, wir laufen mit.
(from Julchen by Wilhelm Busch, 1877)

It’s incredible how fast time is flying by. This blog started last November with a blog post about the Kuru Toga and now it is already more than a year old. In the first year there were altogether 65 blog posts. Now for some statistics: during the first year most visitor came from the USA, followed by the UK, then Germany, then Canada. In terms of numbers the visitors from these four countries, where more than 65% of all visitors came from, were followed by visitors from 106 other countries.

…but enough about statistics. Let’s talk about pencils!

Today I want to write about a pack of “graphic pencils” from Taiwan’s Lion Pencil Co., Ltd., better known as Simbalion. I bought this pack of pencils in December 2009 at Keyroad a shop on Shanghai’s FuZhou Road. If the name rings a bell, I mentioned it in my previous blog post about the Deli sharpener 0635. I never saw this brand in the West before. Have you seen Simbalion pencils in your country?

The pack contains twelve pencils with the grades 4H-H, F, HB, B-6B. My pencil came in an “easy to use easel box”, but this box has since been replaced and these pencil are now available in a new polypropylene case.

The Lion Pencil Company was established in 1956 and is one of Taiwan’s oldest stationery manufacturers. The Lion Pencil Company is proud of having invented the “art set”, but I am sure some other companies will lay claim to having invented the art set in the stationery context, too. Their Taiwanese factory is in Taipei county, but they also have a factory in Kunshan (Jiangsu province), very close to Shanghai and just next to Taicang, where Eisen has a factory.

In Taiwan the normal price for the new set of these pencils in a PP case is 120 NT$ ($ 3.95, £ 2.50, € 2.95). I paid much more for my old “easel box”, maybe because these pencils were imported into the Chinese mainland or maybe, this is only speculation and probably not the case, because the new set is from the factory in Kunshan. According to the labels and stamps on my pack it was produced in the factory in Taipei county on 7th May 2009 – nice to get so much information 🙂

The pencils are nice, certainly not scratchy, but I do wonder about Simbalion’s grading. The H pencil from this pack is certainly the softest H pencil I have ever used and does feel softer than the HB pencil from the same pack. The print on the pencils is uneven in places and the end of the pencil has too much paint that is not evenly distributed.

Altogether a nice set of pencils for this price. The pencils are not scratchy or bad in any other way. My main criticism would be the unpredictable hardness or softness of the lead that does not seem to be consistent with the printing on the pencil.

Conclusion

Nothing too fancy, nothing too bad – you get what you paid for as long as you pay not more than the official price.

 

 


Price and exchange rates: November 2010

I would like to thank Kevin Davis from O’Bon for the sugarcane paper used in these photos.


AMOS DIXON Ticonderoga 3

Today: a tie-in with pencil talk’s blog post about FILA’s global pencil. I want to add the Korean version of the Ticonderoga to Fila’s global pencils series. According to the information from the packaging it is manufactured by Beijing Fila Dixon. One sentence printed on the packaging is very interesting: “R&D in Korea”.

Has the current Ticonderoga been developed in Korea?

Pencil talk mentioned that the different version of this pencil have different cores. This could also mean that not the whole pencil, but that only the core for the Korean version has been developed there – to fit local preferences.

Other Fila pencils I have at my disposal do not emphasise where they have been developed. A pack of Lyra pencils has this sentence printed on the packaging: “Made in China under LYRA-Germany quality standards”, while Dixon pencil packaging only states where the pencils have been produced: Triconderoga: “Made in Mexico”, Ticonderoga Renew: “Made in USA”.

FILA’s global pencil


The Triconderoga blister pack comes with a fantastic sharpener from Eisen.

 

I would like to thank Kent for the AMOS DIXON Ticonderoga.

I would like to thank Sean for the Triconderoga and the Ticonderoga Renew.


Writing slates 8

When I started school and we learned how to write we were using writing slates, probably because you can practise again and again without wasting paper. They were not really made of slate, instead they were a bit like a laminated piece of paper, just that the plastic used is much harder and that the surface was not smooth. A few months ago I found my old writing slate again, together with the sponge to clean it and the pencil to write on it.

The sponge came in a container that could be closed – nice when you want to transport it, but not nice if you do not let the sponge dry out from time to time, as the old water will get smelly. The pencil was a “Heft und Tafel” (exercise book and chalkboard) pencil from A.W. Faber-Castell. As the name suggests they can be used on slate and on paper. You can still get the “Heft and Tafel” pencils today. I bought the white Goldfaber pencil you can see in the photo in April 2010 from Bürobedarf Jäcklein in Volkach for € 1 (~$ 1.38; ~85p). Even the writing slate Scolaflex is still available from Brunnen. Mine is from the late Seventies, just like the blue pencil. It has lines on one side to help getting the cap height and baseline right and is plain dark green on the other side.

Writing slates from proper slate are still available for a reasonable price. I just bought this school writing slate (see photo) from Inigo Jones for £ 3.25 (~$ 5.25; ~€ 3.80). It even comes with a slate pencil. Unfortunately I was not able to find out whether the slate is real Welsh slate.


Price: April 2010, Exchange rates: November 2010

Lexikaliker has a nice photo of a writing slate (Google translation) .


My favourite eraser 16

My favourite eraser is, without a shadow of a doubt, the Faber-Castell 18 71 20 Dust-Free eraser …or its little brother, the 18 71 30. There are many good erasers. I like Sanford’s Artgum eraser, I sometimes use the Staedtler Mars plastic stick eraser and also cannot really complain about some of the high end erasers I use, like the Graf von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi

…but none of them matches the comfort and softness of the 18 71 20 / 18 71 30. It does not smear and it does erase like a dream. It is made in Malaysia, like many of Faber-Castell’s erasers, and is suppossed to be dust-free, which refers to the fact that the eraser waste twists up into strands. There are similar erasers out there, for example Flomo’s Non-Dust eraser from Shanghai, but they are usually not as soft and do not erase as well.

Faber-Castell’s dust-free eraser is relatively new, it has only been introduced in 2004.The retail price in the UK is around the £ 1 ($ 1.62; € 1.14) mark, often a little bit higher.

I would be happy to hear what you think of this eraser. Is it only me or do others also think that this eraser is so much better than any other eraser? If you have a chance to try this eraser out, please give it a go.

Flomo Non-Dust (left), 18 71 30C (middle) and 18 71 20 (right)

In case you wonder about the notebook you can see in the photos. It’s a A4 spiral divider notebook with coloured index tabs, made from FSC paper (70 g/m²). It was sold in the UK through Lidl stores and is, as far as I know, made by Zebra Papierverarbeitungs GmbH. It should be available from ProNa.


Price and exchange rates: November 2010