E wie edelweiss

Today: a Swiss pencil, the Caran d’Ache edelweiss.

Caran d’Ache’s cheaper pens

The edelweiss is, as far as I know, Caran d’Ache’s cheapest full-length pen [1]The 1/2 length pencil 541.272 must be their cheapest pen.. By the way, Edelweiss is not only the English but also the Swiss spelling of Edelweiß because unlike in Germany and Austria the ß is not used in Switzerland. Outside Switzerland, Caran d’Ache is mainly known for their luxury writing instruments, but they also sell what I would call “office supply priced” stationery. I paid € 0.60 (~ $0.78; £0.48) each for the edelweiss pencils. Their other “office supply priced” stationery includes ballpoint pens which start at just under CHF 2 (~ $2.15; €1.65; £1.30).


Then and now

Caran d’Ache’s history goes back to 1915 when a pencil company was established that, nine years later, was bought by Arnold Schweitzer and became Caran d’Ache. The company name is linked to the Russian word for pencil – but I won’t go into more details: since you are reading pencil blogs you have probably heard this story before.

I tried to find out more about the history of the edelweiss pencil but was unsuccessful as Caran d’Ache did not reply to my request for information. I do hope that it will be possible to find out more about the edelweiss and their other products in the future, as the company’s new boss Carole Hübscher is said to want to “communicate actively”, unlike her father who run the company before her and who only gave one interview in 30 years.

I hope Caran d’Ache will continue to make cheap stationery but am not too optimistic about this in the long-term as their cheap products are, with a few exceptions, only available in Switzerland and even there it’s easy to find stationery shops that don’t stock Caran d’Ache pencils but those from other manufacturers. The future of Caran d’Ache and its 300 employees seems to be with high end writing instruments and boutiques like the one opened recently in Geneva.


The pencils

The edelweiss pencils are nice writers, but definitely less smooth than Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils of the same grade (F, HB, 3B). Ghosting/graphite transfer between pages is good, comparable to other European pencils, with the edelweiss HB maybe performing a little bit better than Mars Lumograph of the same grade, but the F and 3B edelweiss performing a bit worse than the Mars Lumographs of the same grade. Personally, I’m partial to F pencils as they tend to keep their point for a long time without their marks being too light on paper, so I like to use them for writing in situations when sharpening a pencil too often would be odd, or when I write in a book or diary [2]When it comes to ghosting/graphite transfer the Wopex is even better than a grade F pencil..

The paintwork and print are well done with only minor issues of chipped off paint near the unfinished cap. The current version has a black barcode printed on the pencil. The wood seems to be cedar and the pencils are easy to sharpen.

I couldn’t resist and had to put something stereotypical Swiss in the photo



The edelweiss provides very good value for money – if you can get your hands on this pencil that is rather rare outside Switzerland.

Sharpened with a Deli 0635. Pencils not rotated while writing…

I bought these pencils in November 2011 from Stilus BSA for € 0.60 each. The price has not changed since then (September 2012).

Price: November 2011/September 2012

Exchange rate: September 2012


You can find a review of the edelweiss at pencil talk and a blog post at Lung sketching Scrolls.

Brand name pencils has a photo of the old version of the edelweiss.


1 The 1/2 length pencil 541.272 must be their cheapest pen.
2 When it comes to ghosting/graphite transfer the Wopex is even better than a grade F pencil.

7 thoughts on “E wie edelweiss”

  1. Thank you for this thorough review of a very nice pencil! It is a pity that they have replaced the shrinking foil with the barcode by an imprint; this spoils the design. Quite a while ago I have made the observation that the wooden pencils from Caran d’Ache are about two grades harder than e. g. the Lumograph. Could it be possibile that they have changed the lead formula?

  2. Thanks for your comment. I don’t really mind bar codes on pencils. I tried the Technograph and the Grafwood in the past, but my experience with these pencils is limited. The edelweiss pencils do seem a bit harder than the Mars Lumograph, but not as hard as a Castell 9000. My edelweiss 3B for example seems to be between a Mars Lumograph 2B and 3B. I have a few edelweiss 3B, but not enough Mars Lumograph 2B and 3B to investigate whether this is a consistent behaviour across many samples. For the HB and F it seems to be more difficult to tell, as the different attributes (blackness, smoothness, keeping the point, …) don’t seem to be consistent with the equivalent or with another Mars Lumograph grade.
    I am not sure whether they changed the formula. My oldest Caran d’Ache pencil might be the edelweiss in F – because it doesn’t have the FSC logo.

  3. Thank you for sharing Caran d’Ache Edelweiss. It was not until recently I started looking at Caran d’Ache’s colored pencils. It is definitely not regular stationery store price range, but I have heard good things about it. I am also a fan of their fountain pen ink, so I would be interested in their economic range of graphite. While looking for Edelweiss on line, I found regular writing pencils by them on Amazon, as seen here: http://www.amazon.com/Caran-DAche-Writing-Eraser-Pencils/dp/B004RGODC4/ref=sr_1_13?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1348245653&sr=1-13, as well as Natura. Maybe I will give them a try.

  4. The points you get with the Deli 0635 are as good if not better than my Carl Angel 5 points…so…I’ve just ordered one. I like the white on red colour scheme of the Edelweiss, which is the same as the current Staedtler Minerva (Thailand) model 130 60. Well done on a fine and thorough review.

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  6. Thank you for your comments.

    Shangching, their writing pencils are definitely not bad. It’s a shame they are so difficult to find… I have a few of their cheap mechanical pencils, but haven’t tried any of their other products yet, like ink.

    John, I’m happy you like it.

    Kevin, the Deli 0635 is the sharpener I use most often, it’s great.
    I do have a few minervas here on my desk (The University where I work is selling them, next to no name pencils, in some of it’s food outlets).
    A description of the edelweiss if you know the minerva: The edelweiss is quite a bit thinner than the minerva. The paint of the edelweiss is darker, less orange-red. Some of the minervas I have here with me have a very yellow-coloured wood, some use a more red wood, so I won’t comment further on that as there seems to be a lot of deviation. A (very) quick lead comparison made me think that the edelweiss is a much smoother pencil.

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