Monthly Archives: March 2011


Black n’ Red polynote A7 plain 2

Last week I bought Black n’ Red’s pocket-sized, i.e. A7, polynote in my local Tesco’s. The polynote is a reporter notebook that flips open at the top and features a polypropylene cover and an elastic band. I bought it because it was half prize, only 60p (97¢; 68c), and because I was quite happy with my previous Black n’ Red purchase, a hard cover Black n’ Red recycled notebook.

Black n’ Red recycled hard cover notebook

My previous Red n’ Black purchase, the recycled notebook is really nice. Unlike the US version reviewed at Office Supply Geek it features British and European maps and information. I only paid £ 3.50 in my university’s library, but the price is probably either subsidised or they do not earn any money from this notebook as I have never seen anywhere else for a similar price. I have used this notebook for several months, but have only used pencils in this notebook, so I cannot comment on the suitability of the paper for fountain pens. It does however feel like good quality paper. I did contact Hamelin / Oxford brands with some questions about the paper, probably about a year ago, but unfortunately I never received a reply.

Back to the polynote

There seems to be a ruled version, too, but I bought the plain version. It contains 192 pages of 90 g/m² Optik Paper. The polypropylene cover seems durable and robust and can be wiped easily if dirty. The polynote does also contain a page with reference information, similar to the one found in the recycled notebook, but this time restricted to metric / imperial conversion tables. There is no danger that pages would fall out by mistake, but they can be removed easily if you wish to do so. The paper has a high quality feel to it and is more opaque than other 90 g/m² paper I have used in the past.

As you can see in the first photo I tried a pencil and two fountain pen inks on the paper.Erasing the graphite works well. The paper feels extremely smooth when erasing, but seems to retain more of a dent where the graphite was than other paper. This means you can see or guess the writing because of the slight indentation. Both inks worked well on the paper and did not bleed through the page.

Bach’s Purpur-Tinte

I bought the ink used with the TWSBI Diamond 530 at Eberbach Abbey, where some scenes of the film “The Name of the Rose” were filmed. This ink is from a small ink manufacturer called “Bach’s Tinten” (Bach’s inks). I have an iron gall ink from the same manufacturer, which is absolutely fantastic when used with a dip pen. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out more about the manufacturer of this ink. All I know is that it seems to be sold in some German museums and other tourist attractions. If you know more about this ink, please let me know.

TWSBI Diamond 530

I used Bach’s Purpur (purple) ink in my brand new TWSBI Diamond 530, which I bought from The Writing Desk for £36.79 (~$59.35; €41.75). TWSBI, originally an OEM manufacturer, make mechanical pencils, too. You can read more about their history and the meaning of their name at Okami Whatever. I first thought about buying this pen from the TWSBI ebay store, where it is slightly cheaper than in the UK, but the price is just above the threshold for VAT and customs (and therefore handling) charges, so buying it from The Writing Desk was the better option. The pen is quite big and made for fountain pen geeks: it is a demonstrator that can be disassembled and even comes with sililcon grease and the wrench needed for disassembly. As far as I know it is using a Schmidt nib, but a limited edition pen with a Bock nib will be released if there are enough orders. The pen is great and offers fantastic value for money. When it comes to fountain pens I am a fan of Pelikan, a Malaysian owned writing instrument manufacturer headquartered in Switzerland with manufacturing facilities on several continents, so – naturally – I compare the diamond 530 with Pelikan fountain pens and I have to say that the Diamond 530 is very big in comparison – much bigger than, for example, a Pelikan Souverän M600.  I do own a few fountain pens from manufacturers other than Pelikan and quality-wise the TWSBI is certainly one of the better ones, especially for this price.

Noodler’s Baystate Blue

Noodler’s, from Massachusetts, “the smallest ink company in the world with the largest color selection” is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite ink company. I do like inks from other companies too, but Noodler’s is my overall favourite. Baystate Blue is a very unusual ink, unusual in its rebellious colour and the high, i.e. alkaline, pH value. You can read more about it on Noodler’s web site. The first time I saw this intense ink on paper it reminded me of a pen I got in the late 1970s / early 1980s. At that time Pepsi ran a big marketing campaign worldwide – and in Germany, too: “Mach den Pepsi Test” (Take the Pepsi Challenge)1. Afterwards you got a “I took the Pepsi Challenge” pen. As far as I remember it was a Staedtler pen and looked like a Lumocolor with a yellow body and with a Pepsi logo and reference to the Pepsi test printed on it. As far as I remember it  had a colour very close to Noodler’s Baystate Blue …and I completely forgot about this pen until Baystate Blue reminded me of this pen and this unusual colour. It’s not really my favourite colour, maybe because it is a bit too unconventional, but it might actually look quite good with a fine nib. I will try that out after I used up the Baystate Blue in my Pelikano junior.

Conclusion

The Black n’ Red polynote is a great little reporter notebook. I think I might carry one with me in the future. There is a plain and a ruled version, both probably ref. number M67072. The robust covers makes it a notebook you can carry around with you all the time and the current half price offer is really good, but even if you pay the full price it offers good value for money and nice smooth and unusually soft (maybe even a bit too soft) paper.

 


Prices and exchange rates: March 2011

You can find a review of Noodler’s Baystate Blue at Without ink.

Office Supply Geek has a great review of the TWSBI DIamond 530.

  1. At that time RC Cola and Afri Cola were still commonly available in Germany []

Interlude

I am still quite busy at work, so no new blog post at the moment…

…but I thought I amuse you with with this video from Pelikan’s youtube channel.

Montblanc fountain pen failed – Pelikan M800 to the rescue

Pelikan’s description of the video reads as follows:

“During the inauguration of Japanese minister Kensaku Morita on April 6th, 2009 the fine writing instrument failed. The former Minister Akiko Domoto spontaneously offered her Pelikan Souverän M800 to her successor and the documents could be signed without further delays…”

On a related note: Recently, Pelikan changed the logo on the top of the cap to a metal logo.

Usually, I do not display images from other web sites for copyright reasons – one of the reasons why my blog posts with news look quite bare. If I do include images not taken/created by myself I mark them accordingly (e.g. a screen shot from a TV series). Since youtube provides the code to embed videos on your own web pages I decided to embed this video directly. Last year, I did something similar for a Staedtler video. I will keep my restrictive policy regarding images and will mark all images taken from other sources explicitly.

Unfortunately bad news keep coming from Japan. Let’s hope for the best, which (currently) is probably a hope that things don’t get even worse.


Morning Glory Black Grip B 5

This morning, I received Rad and Hungry‘s fourth stationery kit. You might have read about Rad and hungry before. Quite a few blogs reported about Rad and hungry’s idea of a country-themed stationery kit you can subscribe to and some blogs reviewed the kits. The Pen Addict and Pencil Revolution even had a giveaway. Bleistift was one of the many lucky blogs that got the first kit, Colombia, free of charge.  Unfortunately I never wrote a review. The kit arrived while I was in Shanghai and when I was back I was snowed under with work and the kit was snows of yesteryear (OK, I admit, it’s not funny and I shouldn’t mix contemporary and dated idioms 8^/ ), so I never reviewed it. I did however like it so much that I subscribed to these kits.

Nicely wrapped

Back to the parcel I received this morning, it was the fourth kit, Korea-themed. I do like Korea (even though I have never been there) and listen regularly to the German Service of South Korea’s KBS World Radio on short wave. Their programme is very good and introduces Korea and life there from different angles and on different levels. North Korea has a similar service, Voice of Korea – from the Radio TV broadcasting committee of the DPRK in Pyongyang. I really like the music the Voice of Korea plays. The Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble is so plasticy, it’s just great. It sounds very much like the background music from the video game Puzzle Bobble (Bust-a-Move in the USA). I think there is no need to describe what kind of non-music content you can expect to hear from North Korea’s international broadcasting service. Suffice to say that I do not listen to the North regularly – but their music is really nice.

The contents

Oh, that was off topic. Let’s talk about pencils again. The Korean kit was $26 (~ £ 16.20, € 18.70) including shipping1 . One of the pencils in this kit is the Morning Glory Black Grip in B, which I examined a bit closer. The Black Grip is very similar to the Bauhaus 6004. Both have a triangular barrel, both are black wood pencils, both are from Korean companies, both are made in China, but the Black Grip does not come with an eraser. I assume the Black Grip is made by Marco, but I cannot be 100% sure. Other pencils similar to these two include the Rhodia pencil, reviewed at Lung Sketching Scrolls and pencil talk. Rhodia’s pencil is made in China, too. The way the ferrule is clinched in exactly the same way as the Bauhaus 6004 makes me think that this is another pencil manufactured by Marco, but it has a smoother lead than the Black Grip or the 6004. Two other, similar pencils, probably from the same factory are two “non black wood pencils”, the Marco 9001, reviewed at woodclinched, and the pencil’s from Eisen‘s fusion line, which are – in some markets – distributed by Lyra.

Stop the press! Supreme leader sees performance of women’s brass band!

Conclusion: The kit is very nice. Other items included in this kit, except the Black Grip, are more pencils, a note pad and a correction tape as well as some comments from the trip and some paper to test the items on, all wrapped up very nicely. The Morning Glory Black Grip itself is a nice every day pencil, there is no point in comparing it to some top of the line pencils, but it certainly does a good job.

 


Click image for details

Prices and exchange rates: March 2011

I would like to thank Kent for the Bauhaus 6004.

You can find a review of Rad and Hungry’s Colombian kit at Notebook love Pen and Lung Sketching Scrolls.

You can find a review of Rad and Hungry’s French kit at Okami Whatever.

You can see a reception report to KBS World radio in the second picture of the ONLINE All Wood Marone review.

You can find more Korea related blog posts at Bleistift by searching for Korea.

  1. $14 for the kit (the price for a kit as part of a quarterly subscription) and $ 12 for shipping []

Deli pencil sharpener 0668 14

When you visit a university in Shanghai you will usually find at least two types of shops nearby: Snack shops (lots of them) and stationery shops. I have not yet seen another city where this phenomenon is as obvious as in Shanghai. The stationery shops can be split into two groups: stationery shops with functional stationery and stationery shops that sell girly stationery as well as other things like make-up, charms, etc – but you can also find shops that are somewhere in-between these two groups.

After my good experience with another Deli sharpener I could not resist and bought this TLR shaped sharpener, the Deli 0668, in December 2010 when I saw it in it in Shanghai – in a stationery shops outside a university. Deli’s headquarters are near Shanghai, so I it is not surprising that this sharpener was inspired by a Shanghainese-made Seagull TLR1.

The 0668's single rotary blade cylinder

I paid about ¥ 30 (£ 2.80, € 3.30, $ 4.50) for this sharpener, a bit more than what I paid for the Deli 0635. You can get this sharpener cheaper if you look around or if you buy online, e.g. from Taobao. Outside China you can get this sharpener from Kikkerland for $15 (£ 9.30, € 10.80) or from Urban Outfitters for £ 15 ($ 24.20 , € 17.50)2. It is currently on offer and can be bought for £ 8 online and in the Urban Outfitter shops .

The 0668 has a single rotary blade cylinder, similar to the one in the 0635. There is also a removable tray for the shavings. The clamps that hold the pencil during sharpening have a rubber surface so they won’t damage the pencil’s surface. Additionally, there is an automatic stop mechanism that will prevent you from over-sharpening a pencil. The main difference between the two Deli sharpeners is that the 0668 produces a shorter (and blunter) point. It also features a point adjuster switch similar to the one seen in the Carl Bungu Ryodo BR-05 pencil sharpener, reviewed at pencil talk and in the Dahle 133 / M+R 0981, reviewed at Lexikaliker. The blunt setting at the extreme end will result in a “point” diameter of about 2mm is only suitable for colour pencils with a wide core. Normal graphite pencils do not have a wide enough core for this setting.

 

On the left a Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened with the Deli 0668 (sharp setting), in the middle a Faber-Castell 1117 and a Mitsubishi Arterase Color 0668 sharpened with the Deli 0668 (blunt setting), on the right a Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened with the Deli 0635

Conclusion: A great sharpener for a great price. I will not use the blunt setting and, to be honest, I do prefer the longer point I get from the Deli 0635 much more. It is nevertheless a sharpener I will enjoy using. It is currently in my office where I use it for all kinds of wooden pencils, but not for pencils that use difficult to sharpen material, like the Wopex, as my experience with the Deli 0635 has shown that the Deli’s automatic stop mechanism does not work with these pencils and that the harder material seems to be detrimental to the blade cylinder.

 

A Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened using the sharp setting and a Uni Mitsubishi Arterase Color Vermilion sharpened using the blunt setting.


The pencils used in this blog post are Faber-Castell’s 1117 B and Uni Mitsubishi’s Arterase Color Vermilion 310. The 1117 feels like an unpainted pencil. It is not really painted but features a water-based varnish. It also has a breakage-resistant lead and an eraser. It does performs well for a budget pencil. It is made in Germany and sells for around € 0.30 each (~42¢, ~25p). You can find a review of the Faber-Castell 1117 at pencil talk. The Uni Mitsubishi’s Arterase Color Vermilion 310 is made in Japan. I do not have more information about this pencil, but you can find a review at Lexikaliker and at pencil talk. I would like to thank Lexikaliker for the Arterase Color pencil used in this blog post.

Prices: December 2010

Exchange rates: March 2011

The Deli in Urban Outfitters (Manchester)

  1. Seagull TLRs were basically Rolleiflex copies. Outside China Quelle rebranded Seagull TLRs and distributed them as Revue cameras (40 years ago). There are still companies out there that distribute Seagull cameras outside China, one of the most famous ones is Lomography. Another interesting point: Whoever designed this sharpener changed the markings compared to the real camera, from f/3.5 to f/1.5 []
  2. Urban Outfitters buy it from Kikkerland and in the end after shipping it over, everyone adding some profit and after adding tax, it is more than five times as expensive than what I paid in a little shop that wasn’t cheap in the first place. []