Three black pencils

Today: black pencils from China. Black because of the paint, not because of the lead or the wood. I bought these pencils in December in Keyroad, a shop I have mentioned several times so far.

The three competing black pencils, here in a Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand.

OK, we’ve got the black version of the Chung Hwa 6903 and the M&G AWP34601. Chung Hwa and M&G are both from Shanghai. Just South of Shanghai is Zhejiang province, represented by the Zibom P-6000 pencil.


Chung Hwa 6903

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the, in my opinion, better looking brown version of the Chung Hwa 6903. The black version is very similar. The pencil is still round, but painted black and the cap at the end is black, too, not white. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The Chung Hwa 6903



Zibom P-6000

Then we’ve got the hexagonal Zibom P-6000. It comes with an eraser and has the packaging I like most of these three pencils. It also comes with a sharpener, but the pencils have an unfinished end. I paid ¥7.5 (~ 75p; $1.20; 90c) for a dozen.

The Zibom P-6000


M&G AWP34601

The last pencil in this blog post is the hexagonal M&G AWP34601. This pencil is certainly the winner is this group when it comes to the coolest model number. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The M&G AWP34601


…and the winner is:

My personal favourite is the M&G AWP34601, the only 2B pencil in this comparison [1]The other two pencils are HB.. It’s the winner …not because of the cool model number, which sounds like a model number for some sort of high tech robot, but because the wood is not red. If anything, the AWP34601’s wood is too yellow, but I still prefer that to red wood. The runner up is the Zibom P-6000, the packaging is great, it is the cheapest in this comparison and comes with a free sharpener. The worst pencil is the Chung Hwa 6903. Yes, I know, this must be difficult to believe, as my blog post about the brown version was quite positive – but unlike the brown version this black version is just not so nice. Plus, I prefer hexagonal pencils. Lead-wise the AWP34601 is smoothest, it is a 2B after all. The P-6000 seems scratchier than the 6903. Wood-wise the 6903 has the hardest wood, so hard in fact that the auto-stop mechanism of some desktop sharpeners will not engage.

Congratulations M&G AWP34601.

Renold, the robot, presents the winner, the AWP34601.
The winner: The M&G AWP34601 2B
Gold Silver Bronze
M&G AWP34601 Zibom P-6000 Chung Hwa 6903

cool name

wood not red

smooth lead






free sharpener



red wood

unfinished end


hard wood

red wood






Prices: December 2011

Exchange rates: March 2012


The Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand was ¥10 (~ £1; $1.60; €1.20). It comes with twelve walls for twelve months and three “bottoms”. Bureau Direct started selling a similar pencil stand (maybe a but late, now that it’s already March), unfortunately it is quite a bit more expensive: £9.95 (~ $15.60; €11.95).


Unfortunately I forgot to open the lens’ aperture on the photo where Renold, the robot, presents the winner.  Now the out of focus highlights are not round and a bit distracting..


1 The other two pencils are HB.

4 thoughts on “Three black pencils”

  1. I got the impression from online retail store comments that M&G is a reputable brand among Chinese stationery consumers. Glad to hear they make good pencils. The matt finish looks nice. Although, given the price I suppose they’d be just about average when compared to the big names?

  2. I might have said this before, but ten years ago M&G had a much smaller share of the supermarket shelves in Shanghai (Carrefour, E-Mart, Tesco), but now they are the dominating brand.

    Their pens and mechanical pencils are much more common than their wood cased pencils.

    I don’t normally use 2B pencils, but this one is nice, smooth, you can use it for occasional writing without having to sharpen too often, but I have only used it for writing down the odd word or sentence here or there, I haven’t used it for long note taking or anything like that yet (being scared that it being a 2B I’d have to sharpen too often).

    The 2B seems to be more of a European 2B, not a Japanese 2B. According to my limited experience with this pen the point stays sharp at least as long as that of a Tombow Mono 100 HB.

  3. Thanks for the additional information, Matthias.

    M&G also makes notebooks which seem to be popular online, did you recall seeing any in stores in Shanghai?

    The distinction between European and Japanese grading is a useful one.
    Among non-Japanese pencils I also noticed HB writing pencils are usually darker (and usually softer) than HB drawing pencils. For example, while I’m fine with HB Norica, Noris, Rheita, Ticonderoga etc, the HB Mars Lumograph 100, Faber-Castell 9800, KIH Toison D’or etc are simply too light for me.

  4. I bought quite a few notebooks in Shanghai. They don’t always show in an obvious way who manufactured them, but I should check, some might be from M&G.

    The writing/drawing distinction is interesting. I haven’t thought of this before (or forgot), probably also because manufacturers often don’t specify whether the pencils are for drawing or writing. I should pay attention to this.

    One thing I want to add about the M&G pencil. It is very nice, but I tend to keep pencils between pages of books or diaries and the paint of the AWP34601 leaves dark marks on the paper that are very very difficult to erase. Very annoying, especially because otherwise this is a very nice pencil.

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