Monthly Archives: May 2011

Seconds 7

I might have mentioned this before: my father was a joiner and this meant that he used a lot of pencils – and because he used so many my mother tried, if possible, to get cheap pencils. This pencil was one of these. I saw it last time I visited her in Germany and took it back with me, along with a few other pens I will write about another time.

Click for full size


When you look at it you realise that it is from a time when pencils were less of a commodity and more of something the manufacturer was proud of. This specific specimen must have been deemed to be of so poor quality that the logo was sanded out and that it was stamped “SECONDS”.



Needless to say that there is nothing really wrong with this pencil and that it is miles better than the no name pencils you get in many supermarkets. It is just from a time long gone, when there were more manufacturers who were proud of their products and more consumers who paid what the products were worth.

The logo has been sanded out


Birds in our garden (2) 2

A male blackbird feeding a fledgling, photographed by my wife.

One of the blackbirds even knows how to let us know that they want more food on the bird table: if there is no food left he will fly to the roof of the bird table, land and then fly towards us when we are near the window or in the garden.

Faber-Castell Videos 4

In their anniversary year Faber-Castell have been featured in a regional, Franconian television programme. The good news: you can watch these videos outside Germany. The bad news: the videos are in German and there are no English subtitles.

The GvFC Perfect Pencil I always carry in the pocket of my jacket.


This short video shows the factory and includes a few scenes showing how Faber-Castell tests the pencils for poisonous and unwanted components to make sure they are absolutely safe. If you like Lexikaliker’s museum posts you will be delighted to see some old catalogues and products in the video, too …and even our favourite count, Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell makes an appearance [1]I wonder whether his family got invited to the royal wedding. His niece is married to a relative of Prince Philip..

Another video, similar to Lexikaliker’s old Staedtler video, gives a glimpse of pencil manufacturing 100 years ago. There is also a radio report about pencil manufacturing. The radio report mentions how Lothar Faber became a member of the aristocracy and why the name changed from Faber to Faber-Castell.


1I wonder whether his family got invited to the royal wedding. His niece is married to a relative of Prince Philip.

Pelikan in the news

In the past few days Pelikan has been in the (financial) news. Last year their turnover dropped by 13% and they lost more then ten million Swiss francs.

There have been quite a few changes for Pelikan in the past months: As mentioned previously they now manufacture the Porsche Design pens, but they stopped distributing certain Henkel products – Staedtler does that now  …no wonder Staedtler’s glue in the Pencilmaker Set is from Henkel.

I hope Pelikan’s financial situation will improve again. It certainly wasn’t my fault – I bought quite a few Pelikan products (mainly fountain pens).

Continuing the Pelikan theme: you might remember one of my previous blog posts that included a video of Japanese politicians using a Pelikan. Well,something similar might happen in New Zealand soon: politicians there use Pelikan fountain pens, too. Simon Parker, New Zealand’s Minister of Justice, Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Minister of Commerce, Minister Responsible for the Law Commission and Associate Minister of Finance received a Pelikan fountain pen as a gift from the German State Secretary.

What stationery taught me about Oceania:  Australian pencils are harder than British pencils and New Zealand’s politicians hold more ministerial posts than British politicians.

Nautical Stationery Set 2

Today: a blog post with images all over the place.

This weekend’s 56th annual Eurovision Song Contest is over. With an estimated 125 Million viewers watching it is a big event, but even though it is quite big in Europe not many people outside Europe [1]…or better: outside the “European Broadcasting Area”, which includes many non-European countries, that participate in the contest would probably know about it [2]Australia might be an exception. Not only is it shown there, viewers can even vote, even though their vote does not count.. Nevertheless, the contest even seems to inspire politicians: a few years ago Putin proposed a similar Asiavision Song Contest.

While watching the final this weekend I was kind of expecting that Jimmy Jump would invade the stage again – like during last year’s Eurovision final and during the Football world cup final – but there was no sight of him…

Moldova’s entry was funny-ish, but I thought it was nowhere near as good as the (kind of) similar entry  from the Ukraine in 2007. It also somehow reminded me of a Knorkator song that made it into the German national finals in 2000. …and a last comment before I stop writing about Eurovision: what a shame that Switzerland did not get more votes. I thought their song was really nice (even though the singer should not have moved her arm so much).

Düller notepads

John Lewis Door Stop

Other things I did this weekend, except watching the Eurovision Song Contest,  included going to Manchester’s Trafford Centre. In John Lewis I saw a pencil shaped door stop for £25 (~$40; ~€29), but even more interesting than this was Pedlars in Selfridges. They sold Düller memo pads, including the long version featured in pencil talk’s recent Düller Memo Pad post …but unfortunately, they did not have the dotted version in stock. When I was in Pedlars a few weeks ago they still sold the Düller mechanical pencil that comes “in” a note pad, but this time only the sample was left (which is probably not for sale and was slightly damaged).

Oops - Upside down


I bought a nautical stationery set by SORT, The Society Of Revisionist Typographers, despite the name obviously a company, not a society. When I bought it I didn’t know yet, but a quick search on the Internet revealed that this set was featured in a UK newspaper’s 2009 Christmas gift guide. I am not so keen on the nautical theme, but the paper and printing were nice enough to convince me to buy this stationery set.

Something else I discovered this weekend, this time in Homesense in Preston: nice leather bound notebooks from Gallery Leather, printed in Korea (so I assume the paper is Korean, too) and bound in Maine, USA. All the journals I looked were very well made and at around £8 (~$13; ~€9) they were also very reasonably priced. I assume you can also find them at T.K. Maxx / T. J. Maxx, since they belong to the same company.



1…or better: outside the “European Broadcasting Area”, which includes many non-European countries, that participate in the contest
2Australia might be an exception. Not only is it shown there, viewers can even vote, even though their vote does not count.