Monthly Archives: August 2012


Staedtler Welt 12

End of July I visited Staedtler Welt, Staedtler’s shop in the centre of Nuremberg.

Mechnical pencils

The weather on the day was great, around 35°C (~95°F), and I even passed Staedtler’s headquarters when I drove into Nuremberg. This was because my wife, I and two friends went to Herzogenaurach first, the city where Adidas and Puma are from, and when you drive from there to the centre of Nuremberg on the Bundesstraße (B road / national highway) you pass Staedtler’s headquarters, a nice surprise and something I didn’t know or expect.

Nuremberg Souvenirs

Staedtler Welt opened in November 2010 and offers a great selection of Staedtler products – obviously the best I have seen so far in a shop, but I was slightly disappointed because there were many current Staedtler products I am aware of that I couldn’t find in this shop. To be honest I was expecting to see more products, but nevertheless, the products available include some items you don’t usually see in shops, like the Mars rasor and even products that are not made any more, like the Mars stenofix.

 

The Mars stenofix was still being sold

 

Most of the space in the shop is used to display stationery, but there is also an area in the back of the shop dedicated to FIMO and related products, like FIMO accessories. In this part of the shop you can even find ovens and an area that is probably being used for FIMO workshops.

The employees were extremely friendly. One of the employees is originally from the UK and started to talk to our British friends who went there with me and my wife. The prices in the shop were similar to what you would pay on the high street or in a typical department store.

The FIMO area is on the left. You can also see an oven.

 

Wopex and the trend line colours are also on display in the shop. These trend line colours, many are different shades of brown, were first released about a year ago. I thought that they were originally colours exclusive to the Wopex range, but I couldn’t find any evidence for this. In any case, you can now find non-Wopex products in trend line colours, too. When they were first released the trend line products were only available in the Staedtler Welt shop, but during my trip to Germany this July I saw trend line products in department stores, too.

 

Most items were reasonably priced. This leather(?) mouse pad was nice, but expensive.

 


I would like to thank Vernon Antcliff for letting me know his camera when we were in Staedtler Welt.


Atoma vs. M by Staples’ Arc 47

About Atoma

I tried to get hold of an Atoma notebook for a while now. Atoma notebooks are quite common in Belgium where they were first produced in 1948. Despite their popularity in their home country they are not very well known outside Belgium, not even in the neighbouring countries. I haven’t seen them in shops in the UK or Germany and some Dutch friends I asked haven’t seen them in the Netherlands either. No wonder: 80% of more than a million notebooks produced every year stay in Belgium. The company behind Atoma did not extend their patent when it expired in the Nineties, so copies are now available from many companies: There’s Levenger’s Circa, Aurora’s Adoc, Clairefontaine’s Clairing, Elba’s Vario-Zipp, Staples’ Arc and there’s Rollabind.

Atoma

Arc

How do they work

The pages of the Atoma notebooks are being held together by plastic discs. The discs are holding the sheets of paper through special Atoma shaped ‘holes’1. You can remove sheets from the notebooks or swap the sheets around, just like you can in a ring binder. One advantage of this system over a ring binder is that the notebook can be folded over. Another advantage is that an Atoma notebook, compared to a ring binder, is using less space because you don’t need the surrounding folder. The ring binder will also take away space even if empty2. One disadvantage of the Atoma system is that you cannot label the spine of a notebook.

Atoma and Arc paper

Where to get them from

There are two shops in the UK selling Atoma notebooks: Craft & Party Direct and Manufactum, but I didn’t order my Atoma notebook from either of them. Craft & Party Direct charge a lot for shipping  and Koralatov and Iain pointed out that they had bad experiences when ordering from this company in the past. Manufactum charge too much for shipping, too, and they have a ridiculous conversion rate for their UK prices, charging UK customers 35% more than for exactly the same product from their other online shops – that is on top of their expensive prices in the first place. Manufactum’s other online shops in Europe are set up in such a way that UK customers cannot order from them – very annoying. This plus other bad experiences3 with them made me avoid Manufactum in this case. In the end I ordered my Atoma notebooks from the International School of Brussels (Link updated). The notebooks were only €2.50 (~ $3.07; £1.96) each and shipping to the UK was free, so I only paid €5 for the two notebooks I ordered. The same order with Craft & Party Direct would have cost me £10.45 (~ $16.40; €13.35), five times as much. Manufactum’s Atoma notebooks are made of more expensive materials, so a direct price comparison wouldn’t make sense. I also bought one of M by Staples’ Arc notebooks in my local Staples4. With a price tag of £5 (~ $7.85; €6.39) it was more than twice as expensive as an Atoma notebook.

The discs: Atoma in blue, Arc in black

Atoma versus Arc

The Atoma A5 notebook is made in Belgium and came with 72 sheets (144 pages) of “ink-loving 90g/m2 ledger paper”.

The A5 Arc notepad is made in China and came with 60 ruled sheets of 100g/m2 paper. I like the fact that it came with a name/index sheet, but I am not keen on the white border on each page.

There is a lot of choice when it comes to covers and cover material, for both, Atoma and Arc. The cover of the Atoma notebook I bought is made of cardboard, while the Arc cover is made of polypropylene.

The paper of the Atoma notebook is rougher. Writing on it is nice and the paper absorbs the ink quickly.  The surface of the Arc paper is smoother, but ink takes longer to dry than on the Atoma paper. The ink doesn’t show through the reverse of the Arc pages as much as it does on the Atoma paper, but both papers are suitable for ink.

The rings of the Arc notebook are bigger, which means they will probably be able to hold more sheets of paper, but that also makes the notebook bigger, even if you don’t use too many sheets of paper. Aesthetically I find the Atoma ring size nicer and more suitable for the number of sheets of paper these notebooks come with.

Atoma (left) and Arc (right) paper

Conclusion

Both notepad are nice. I like the disc binding mechanism as it has several advantages over ring binders. If I had to choose between the Atoma and the Arc I’d go for the Atoma notebook. Not because it’s cheaper, but partly because I am not a big fan of polypropylene covers and prefer the Atoma’s cardboard cover. I also prefer the size and therefore look of the Atoma’s discs. Paper-wise the Arc’s paper seems to be better quality than the Atoma’s paper, but I haven’t used it long enough to be sure. My last reason for preferring the Atoma is that I prefer sheets without such a big white border.


Prices and exchange rates: August 2012.

I would like to thank Sean for the Blackfeet Indian Pencil seen on the last photo.

  1. They aren’t really holes, but I’m not sure what to call them so that it’s obvious what they are. []
  2. By the way, the ring binder and the hole puncher were invented in 1886 by Soennecken, a company previously mentioned in this blog. []
  3. Delivered item not as described, security issues with their web site, … []
  4. I’ll refer to it as ‘Staples’ from now on, not as ‘M by Staples’ []

Factis and Ty/iwako erasers 7

 

The Factis 60 RP and the Ty Peepers (unboxed)

Post offices in the UK sell all sorts of things and the things they sell are often quite reasonably priced. This can include things like cakes, hand bags or kitchen foil, but naturally there is also a selection of stationery available. In July I bought the Factis 60 RP eraser at the Cinnamon Hill post office in Walton-le-Dale for 25p (~39¢; 32c). I have seen Factis erasers in Germany, too1. It is often not possible to identify the manufacturer of these erasers, but I assume many of them are made by Factis. I assume the company is named after one of the components needed to make natural rubber erasers.

The Staedtler 1810 KP72 and the two erasers

Another eraser I bought in July is the Ty Beanie Puzzle Eraser Peepers. When I saw a selection of the Beanie Puzzle Erasers on the MS Pride of Rotterdam I remembered Shangching’s positive review and bought one for £1.19 (~$1.87; €1.50). There were many erasers to choose from, so I picked Peepers, the duck, one of the erasers with a more complex looking surface structure.

The Factis 60 RP and the Ty Peepers taken apart

Performance-wise both erasers perform similarly well, with the more rubbery 60 RP needing a little bit less effort to eraser graphite than the Peepers. Both erasers perform worse than a good eraser, like my favourite non-dust erasers or the Mars plastic stick 528 55, but better than the typical non-name eraser or the most erasers you’ll find at the end of an eraser-tipped pencil.

Comparison of the Factis 60 RP and the Ty Peepers


You can find out more about Factis on the Eraser World web site.

I bought the Staedtler pencil with the mathematical formulas, the 1810 KP72, used in the photos and for the comparison in Nuremberg’s Staedtler Welt for 95 cents (~$1.18; 75p).

  1. I would even go as far as saying that there has also been a surge in Spanish made erasers in Germany, but it could just be that the few shops I have seen just happened to stock more or display them more prominently. []