The ubiquitous Staedtler pencils

This is not the first time that I mention the fact that Staedtler pencils are quite common in the UK [1]The blog post about the Staedtler Tradition and the one about the Chung Hwa drawing pencil both mentioned this, then there also the post about Staedtler UK.. Today I want to show you some examples of Staedtler pencils seen on TV. In the UK school is about to start soon, so there’s  even Staedtler advertising on TV these days. The examples shown here are however not part of an advertising campaign and I believe that Staedtler pencils have just been used because they are quite common. I apologise as nearly all picture shown have been taken from TV series. As usual, all pictures not taken by myself come with a note explaining where they are from or who owns the copyright.


Real people

Let’s start with real, i.e. non-fictional, people using Staedtler pencils.

Stephen Wiltshire

I’ll skip photos of Stephen Wiltshire using Staedtler pencils. One reason is that you might remember seeing him using a Staedtler pencil from a blog post from March 2010 about the Staedtler Tradition. The other reason is that about a year after the blog post he started making advertising for Staedtler, so any new pictures showing him using Staedtler pencils would arguably be because of his contract with Staedtler, not because of the omnipresence of Staedtler pencils. I have seen him using other pencils in the past, I assume he is only or mainly using Staedtler products now.

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay with a Tradition (Image © One Potato Two Potato)

Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity chef in the UK. Since he has been mocked in South Park I assume he must be a celebrity in the USA, too – or at least be known there. Here are photos of him in an episode of his TV series Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, where a restaurant ten miles from where I live was competing. I first wasn’t sure whether this is a real Tradition 110 or one of those copies available in many shops, but during this episode there were some moments when the reflection of the writing on the pencil can be seen quite well. It is not a copy.

Gordon Ramsay with a Tradition (Image © One Potato Two Potato)


Fictional characters

The Armstrong and Miller Show (Image © Toff Media / Hat Trick)

You can see Staedtler Tradition and Noris pencils in several school sketches in The Armstrong and Miller Show. Staedtler pencil’s use in The Armstrong and Miller Show is not really surprising. They are common and also to some extent the archetype of a pencil.

Tradition and Noris in The Armstrong and Miller Show (Image © Toff Media / Hat Trick)


In advertising

Staedtler’s pencils’ image as typical pencils means that you can see them often when an association with school is needed or in related advertising as in the example seen on the right. The advertising, probably created specifically for the UK and Ireland, was on a phone booth. A Staedtler Noris can be seen, even though the film is from the USA, where the Noris is not officially distributed and not available.

In the next example Harvey Nichols, a posh department store, used Noris look-alikes in their shop window to advertise perfume – I am not sure what the link between the perfume and the pencils is.

Noris look-alikes in Harvey Nichols shop window. (Thank you to Mrs Schmitt for allowing me to use Staedtler’s photo)

Before I finish this blog post, a quick look at fictional characters outside the UK who use Staedtler pencils.


Ted Mosby with a Mars Lumograph (Image © CBS)

In the US-American TV series How I Met Your Mother the main characters, architect Ted Mosby (actor: Josh Radnor), can be seen using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph. Unlike the Noris and the Tradition, the Mars Lumograph is officially being sold in the USA. A fitting pencil: in the past the Mars Lumograph has been advertised a pencil for technical drawings and for engineers.

I apologise for the poor quality of these photos.

Ted Mosby with a Mars Lumograph (Image © CBS)


Daníel and a Noris (Image © Saga Film)
Daníel and a Noris (Image © Saga Film)

His second appearance in this blog …both times with a pencil: Daníel Sævarsson (actor: Jörundur Ragnarsson), one of the main characters from the …vaktin series and from the film Bjarnfreðarson, this time with a Noris in episode two of Fangavaktin.

In previous blog posts the Tradition was written with lower case letters because this is how the name is printed on the current version of this pencil. I decided to capitalise Tradition from now on, but I will probably refrain from changing the spelling in previous blog posts.

I would like to thank Mrs Schmitt from Staedtler for giving me permission to use Staedtler’s photo of the Harvey Nichols shop window.

I believe that the use of the following images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service:

  • The two photos of Gordon Ramsay and the Staedtler Tradition, taken from episode three of the TV series Ramsay’s Best Restaurant
  • The two school sketch photos, taken from the second series of the TV series The Armstrong and Miller Show
  • The photo of the UK advertising for the film Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2
  • The two (poor) photos taken from the TV series How I Met Your Mother
  • The two photos taken from the TV series Fangavaktin

By the way, this is blog post 112. Quite fitting, as 112 is the article number of the rubber-tipped Staedtler Tradition.


1 The blog post about the Staedtler Tradition and the one about the Chung Hwa drawing pencil both mentioned this, then there also the post about Staedtler UK.

20 thoughts on “The ubiquitous Staedtler pencils”

  1. Thank you for that interesting compilation!

    As far as I know the Lumograph has its roots in engineering; it was designed to be a pencil that has the perfect features for blueprints.

    Regarding the connection between pencils and perfume: What about an after shave with an “incense cedar” fragrance? I expect this to be a real pleasure for all pencil heads 😉

  2. Gunther, thank you for your comment.

    About your description of the Mars Lumograph: In this case Staedtler’s Non-Photo-Blue pencil must have been the opposite of the Mars Lumograph.

    Irisch Moos has cedar in the heart note. I use their shaving soap 🙂 They make after shave, too.

    I wonder, is Gordon Ramsay popular in Germany? I found out that Jamie Oliver is.

  3. Hmm is there a difference between the distribution of Staedtler in Canada and US? I’ve bought some Noris Club pencils here in Canada and does list other Noris products as well. It’s hard to believe they aren’t sold in US as well.

  4. I can’t recall coming across any Noris pencils in the U.S. (i.e. in Staples or Office Depot, etc.). I’ve only ever seen leadholders or Lumographs, which can be found in great abundance in art supplies stores.

    Quite a collection of photos! I’ll have to look more closely to see if Gordon carries his pencils with him to the United States.

  5. Thanks for your comments.

    Claire, I based this on the fact that the Noris and Tradition is not listed on the Staedtler USA page. A quick search on the Internet found many shops that sell the Mars Lumograph, one shop that sells the Wopex, but not shops for the Noris and Tradition. The Club version of the Noris is quite new, maybe that’s why it’s available in Canada. Have you seen the ‘traditional’, hexagonal Noris in shops?

    Sean, that would be interesting. I have seen him with another pencil in the past, but cannot remember now which one that was. I assume he does not really have any preference and just uses whatever is available – but this is just a guess…

  6. Sean you are quite right, these aren’t available in chain office supply stores like Staples. Then again, unless there is an art section, in Staples etc one can only get Mars Lumograph in a set. I got mine in local art supply stores.

    Memm, I see where you are coming from now. I haven’t seen a hexagonal Noris in store yet (too bad!). So far I’ve only come across Noris Club (+ Jumbo) and Noris Ergosoft (+ Jumbo). Even then, only every other store that carries Mars Lumograph also carries these. I suppose the Noris are marketed/designed to be everyday writing pencils, i.e. office supply, and for that, people here are too content with Papermate, Dixon, store brand and even Ikea pencils for (the more expensive) Noris to be popular.

  7. Claire, oh Ikea pencils are a bit too short to be comfortable – or do they have ‘normal pencil length’ in Canada?
    Your explanation sounds just right, there are probably too many established pencils and too many cheap no name pencils available to introduce a pencil that would probably be sold for 50¢ or more.

  8. memm: no it’s the same here, Ikea pencils are short. I mentioned it because 1. there seems to be an Ikea pencil “cult”. 2. (sorry I can’t find the reference for this one any more) in response to a post where someone mentioned how much he/she shelled out for a particular pencil (probably a bw 602), a commenter wrote in the tone of ‘it’d never spend that much on a pencil, i’m so satisfied with the ikea pencils and they are free!’, that gave me the idea

  9. Pingback: October Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper « Journaling Arts

  10. I always wonder where the Noris fits iinto the Staedtler class system, ie. Lumograph at the top, Tradition 2nd tier, Noris also seems to be 2nd tier, so I wonder where it fits in, it seems to be up against one of its own – the tradition. I would still like to try one for myself to compare with the tradition. I suspect their closeness in rating is why shops won’t sell both Tradition and Noris.

  11. You are right, probably only very few shops sell both of them. In the UK WH Smith sells the Tradition, but supermarkets usually sell the Noris. Even more confusing: depending on where you look sometimes the Noris is more expensive, sometimes it’s the Tradition. The most extreme price difference I have observed was when Staedtler sold their
    anniversary tins this year. The price for the Tradition tin was close to the price for the Mars Lumograph tin, while the Noris tin was much cheaper.

  12. Before it closed down, local stationers’ used to sell all three tiers of Staedtlers, with a Lumograph, Tradition, Noris tiering system from most expensive to cheapest. I always thought that the Tradition was higher in the scale than the Noris, and I read somewhere that the Tradition was made from cedar whereas the Noris wasn’t.

    When it comes down to using them, they seem very similar, albeit with slighter darker wood in the Tradition than the Noris. The eraser-tipped Norises and Traditions use the exact same ferrule and eraser, and the Tradition is about 10p more expensive per pencil than the Noris.

  13. Speaking of the Tradition-in-use, we had a joiner in at my workplace today, and wedged behind his ear was a very battered Tradition. I didn’t get close enough to see which grade it was.

  14. Very interesting, thanks for the explanations. Of course in Australia where the Noris 120/122 is not available, my choice is Tradition only (out of Tradition/Noris). Now below these three are a varied group of Staedtlers I suppose you could call their bottom tier (but they are not all the same quality), some that are region specific, and here I’m thinking og Norica, Pacific(Australia) Minerva made in Thailand for SE Asia/Pacific. Of these 3 the Minerva is the best and I believe in terms of performance right up there with the Tradition. With its very nicely finished bright orange/red colour and clear white lettering it is a very easy pencil to pick out in a stash. Its only appearance weakness is the flat top which I cover with eraser tips.

  15. Koralatov, Staedtler’s pricing on the anniversary tins confirm what you said, The Tradition is higher in scale than the Noris, but funnily enough the Tradition is sometimes cheaper than the Noris, but this might just be because someone somewhere had a bigger profit margin.

    Thank you for mentioning the bottom tier pencils. I think the bottom tier pencil from well-known pencil manufacturers are often overlooked. One of my favourites in this group is the Faber-Castell Bonanza. They just look so good and the performance is ok, too.

  16. Just for clarification Memm, I was being specific about the Minerva 2B which just amazes me with its writing performance and ability to sharpen. The HB Minerva is more on a par withn the Pacific – just reasonable. It seems though that the 2B version is only sold in the SE Asian region including Australia as the German Staedtler website does not show the 2B version – pity, its the best!!. Thanks for the heads up on the FC Bonanza, another one to search for.

  17. Another question regarding the Noris. Why is there a Noris “School Pencil” (Stamped on the pencil) which is model 121. It seems it only comes in HB grade and possibly only in the bulk boxes of 144 pencils and even 720. Is this just marketing for schools or are they a different pencil. It strikes me as odd…but then again I’m not a marketer.

  18. …further research suggests the Noris 121 comes in the same grades as the standard Noris 120 and also can be found in one dozen boxes. I’ve only seen ones marked “Made in Great Britain “, online, so perhaps the Noris “School Pencil” is no longer made since Staedtler’s are no longer manufactured there.

  19. I do have a British and German version of the Noris school pencil. Both don’t have a bar code, so they are either old or they don’t have a bar code because they are only sold in bulk boxes (I think the second guess might be closer to the truth).
    Both are from a student of mine who has many of them (He kindly agreed to swap them for 120s). As he has many of them that might support the argument, too, that they are only available in bulk boxes.
    I think in the past pencils were provided by your school (I heard stories of red ‘corporation’ pencils being provided, I should find out more), so many schools or kindergartens buy these school pencils for their pupils…

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