The Noris, then and now

Now that Pencil Revolution mentioned my blog posts featuring pencils on telly I feel I should add some more. Speaking of the Pencil Revolution: I also noticed pencils on Revolution – and I was shocked how carelessly they use the pencils as well as other sparse resources …but then they also didn’t really honour their irreplaceable pencils in Stargate Universe.

You might have noticed that my “Seen in the wild” pencils often mention my favourite pencil, the Noris. This is just because this pencil isn’t that often on TV. If I’d focus on the Ticonderoga I’d have a lot of screenshots to show – a big proportion of Malcolm in the Middle and The Big Bang Theory episodes feature this nice pencil.

So, today the focus is on the Staedtler Noris.

Not yet posted on Bleistift and in chronological order:


1975: Fawlty Towers (British TV series)

Fawlty Towers - Episode 2
Fawlty Towers – Episode 2 (Image © BBC)
Fawlty Towers - Episode 4
Fawlty Towers – Episode 4 (Image © BBC)

In episode 1 they are mainly using Staedtler’s Tradition. In later episodes the Noris is more common. In the second screenshot you can see Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) sharpening his Noris with a knife.


1977: Der Alte (German TV series)

Der Alte - Episode 2
Der Alte – Episode 2 (Image © Neue Münchner Fernsehproduktion / ZDF ORF SRG)

In episode 7 you can see Chief Inspector Köster using a pencil that looks like a Castell 9000, but today is Noris day, so I won’t show the Castell 9000.


1990: House of Cards (British TV series)

House of Cards - Episode 2
House of Cards – Episode 2 (Image © BBC)

They also had some really nice pen trays in House of Cards.


2008: Commissario Montalbano (Italian TV series)

You can see the Noris being used in the Commissario Montalbano episodes Le Ali della Sfinge / The Wings of the Sphinx and  La Pista di Sabbia / The Track of Sand in this blog post.


2008: Tatort (German TV series)

You can see the Noris being used in the Tatort episode Liebeswirren in this blog post about the Noris.


2009: Fangavaktin (Icelandic TV series)

You can see the Noris being used in the second episode of Fangavaktin (The Prison Shift) in this blog post.


2009: The Armstrong and Miller Show (British TV series)

You can see the Noris being used in the second season of The Armstrong and Miller Show in this blog post.


2010: Borgen (Danish TV series)

Borgen (image cropped) - Season 1 Episode 1
Borgen (image cropped) – Season 1 Episode 1 (Image © DR1)

The Danish Prime Minister and his advisor on a trip to England. Each of them has a Staedtler Noris in front of them on the table.


2011: Outnumbered (British TV series)

Outnumbered – Season 4 Episode 5 (Image © BBC)

There is a very small chance that this is a Fox Essentials copy, but I think it’s a Noris – The Fox Essentials has a white eraser.


2012: Episodes (British TV series)

Episodes (cropped) - Season 2 Episode 2
Episodes (image cropped) – Season 2 Episode 2 (Image © Hat Trick / BBC)



2012: Quartet (British film)

Quartet (2012 film directed by Dustin Hoffman)
Quartet (2012 film directed by Dustin Hoffman) (Image © Headline Pictures / BBC Films / DCM Productions / Finola Dwyer Productions)

I haven’t watched this film, but Sean was kind enough to tell me about it and to send me this screenshot.


 2012: The Bletchley Circle (British TV series) (added after this blog post was first published)

The Bletchley Circle (Image © ITV)
The Bletchley Circle (Image © ITV)

Comrade John from the Pencil Revolution sent this screenshot from The Bletchley Circle, a murder mystery set in the famous [1]If you’re into Cryptography or Computer Science you will have heard about it. Bletchley Park in 1952. I’m not sure though they would have used a Noris in H there [2]OK, it doesn’t have to be H – the Malaysian Noris has shown that same colour doesn’t necessarily indicate the same pencil grade. – Staedtler took the Royal Sovereign Group over in the 1970s, so the code breakers would have been more likely to use Wolff’s Royal Sovereign.


2013: Bach: A Passionate Life (British TV documentary) (added after this blog post was first published)

Bach: A Passionate Life (image cropped) (Image © Leopard Films)

I haven’t watched this documentary either, but Sean was kind enough to tell me about it and to send me this screenshot.



If you want to see a Noris being tortured you should head over to Bodyform‘s video (if you don’t want to see the horrible bit, skip a few seconds around 1:13). Rad and Hungry‘s boss Hen Chung posted this video on her Facebook page , which was then also shared on Bleistift’s Faceboook Page [3]The one I haven’t mentioned on this blog yet..

The screenshots in this blog post have been taken from different TV series and films, as stated above. I believe that the use of the screenshots shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

I’d like to thank Sean for the Quartet and the Bach: A Passionate Life screenshots.

I’d like to thank John for the The Bletchley Circle screenshot.

You can see more pencils in the wild by following this link.


1 If you’re into Cryptography or Computer Science you will have heard about it.
2 OK, it doesn’t have to be H – the Malaysian Noris has shown that same colour doesn’t necessarily indicate the same pencil grade.
3 The one I haven’t mentioned on this blog yet.

15 thoughts on “The Noris, then and now”

  1. M, I just emailed you two screenshots of a Noris from “The Bletchley Circle” you might enjoy. 🙂

  2. Palimpsest, a bouquet of pencils (link), what a nice idea.

    John, when I read the word Bletchley I got quite excited. For many years I have included bits about Bletchley Park in the modules I teach. Now that I see it’s a murder mystery thing, not a documentary, I’m not sure what to think – but it’s on Netflix, so I might watch it, or at least have a quick peek. Thanks for the tip and the photos!

  3. Wow, that’s stunning! Thank you for sharing your findings. And there are even pictures from “Fawlty Towers” 🙂 You are #2 pencil spotter #1! 😉

  4. Gunther, thanks. Do you like Fawlty Towers? “I think I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it” 8^)

  5. Yes, I like it very much! Quite a long time ago I have bought the DVD box which contains many extras, and I have enjoyed it more than once. – I am a John Cleese fan. Many years ago I was lucky to watch a video, sold by his company which specialised in management training. By the way, do you know “How to Irritate People?” Highly recommended!

  6. Nice to see the good old Noris on the telly.

    You are right, if you wanted to list TV appearances by the Ticonderoga you would be spoiled for choice – for example you could also add Mad Men where it is often in shot down at Sterling Cooper/SCDP/SCDPCGC/SC&P.

  7. Gunther I think I watched it many years ago, but I can’t remember a lot.

    Stationery Traffic, I never watched an episode of Mad Men. I think they are repeating it again from Season 1, but it’s on Sky Atlantic or some other channel I can’t watch.

  8. Hi,

    One of my favorite ‘pencil’ watching t.v shows….is the Paper Chase Series. Season 1 and 2 are available on Amazon and Ebay. I watched the show when it aired a very long time ago when I was little and remember my parents watching it. When I saw it recently I was awestruck by the use of pencils in those days. I’m not sure which pencils they were using (Dixon or Venus Velvet maybe?). If you have a look…please email me what you think.

    Also just to add that I went to an American school in the Middle East and we were given Venus Velvet pencils every month to use and Gem erasers. The teachers were given generous supplies of boxes and these were given to us to use. I miss those days!! This was the early 80’s. The stores had Pelikan erasers and Staedtler pencils.


  9. Thanks for these two very interesting details.
    I never heard of the Paper Chase TV series before and it looks as if it hasn’t been released outside North America, but in the UK it seems to be available as an import.
    Getting new pencils every month sounds like an opportunity to stock pile 8^). Makes me wonder whether the school asked you to write everything with pencils.

  10. Matthias, I re-read this post while checking up on your “in the wild” section. I’m about to watch “Quartet” – looking forward to that Noris shot! 🙂

  11. There is one clearly visible for a moment in the movie Happy-Go-Lucky, during a scene at at Poppy’s school. I first picked them up (a pack of four Ergosofts) at a Staples store in New York City in the mid-90s, and have been using them ever since, but had to restock them from whatever on-line sources had them. They get occasional curious remarks.

  12. David, thank you very much for your comment.
    I haven’t heard of that movie, but if I ever watch it I’ll look out for the Noris.
    Oh, I assumed the Noris is quite rare in the US. I wonder whether this store imported them from another country or whether the Ergosoft was available through Staedtler’s official distribution network.
    What remarks do you get? Are they about the size or the look of the Ergosft?

  13. Lol. I’ve taught piano to kids over the years, and given Noris pencils as little gifts. A few have said that they really love them. And when I accidentally leave the pencils on a job (often with a pencil-topping eraser), they always know it was mine because nobody else has a black-and-yellow striped pencil.
    I don’t know how the Ergosoft ended up in Staples’ stock the one time when I bought them (Staples is the super-mega-chain now of office supplies here), except that they do carry plenty of Staedtler supplies other than the Noris lines. I never saw Norises again on an American shelf. Easy come, easy go, I guess (just like certain imported beers). So I either ordered them through the one-and-only internet-based American supplier, or I bought some in Graz the summer I worked there. At the moment Amazon has them, $20 for a box of 10, and are allegedly a “Japan import” (called “Erugosofuto”)!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.