Year: 2014

Pedlar’s Signet 100 HB


signet-boxThe Kimberly and Pedlars

Earlier this year, it was in February, Pedlars contacted me asking for some suggestions what pencils to add to their current offering. I believe Palimpsest suggested that they should contact me – and to be quite honest, I was quite excited to have a chance to make a (small) difference in the world of pencils. In my first email back I mentioned, among other pencils, the Kimberly – a pencil I really like, not only because of its metal cap and the fact that it’s made in the USA. Luckily Sean was kind enough to send me a pack a few years ago. Off topic: To my surprise the General Pencil Co seems to label their products, among other languages, in German, even though I’ve never seen their products in Germany – but it shows that exporting this pencil is an option they had in mind.


Much later did I found out by coincidence that Pedlars seemed to have liked my suggestion and started to actually add the Kimberly to their line of pencils. I’m very glad they did!


Pedlar’s own pencil, the Signet 100

End of November I heard from Pedlars again. This time they sent me a new pencil they’re selling, their own model, called the Signet 100. According to the description in the box the pencil is made using American basswood/linden [1]Lexikaliker thought the Czech made Stabilo EasyGraph might possibly also be made using linden wood. and is made in the Czech Republic. The box it comes in, a very nice box with an old fashioned surface that implies quality is made in Cheshire.


Where is it made?

I only know of two pencil factories in the Czech Republic. The Stabilo-Schwan factory is Český Krumlov and the Koh-I-Noor L. & C. Hardtmuth factory in Budweis. To be honest, my guess would have been that the Signet pencils are made by Koh-I-Noor L. & C. Hardtmuth, but according to the Signet box they are “made in the Czeck Republic by a long-established, family run company”, which means we can probably rule out Koh-I-Noor as the manufacturer.

Koh-I-Noor’s official name is Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth a.s. and the company is a member of the Koh-I-Noor holding a.s. Group – and a.s. means that a company is a joint stock company, which makes an a.s. company not impossible, but less likely to be a family-run company. Stabilo Schwan is a limited company, so more likely to be seen as a family-run company, but there might very well be other pencil manufacturers in the Czech Republic. If you know of any, please let me know.


The pencil

The first impression I had when looking at the Signet was that it looks quite similar to the Palomino, which was also sold by Pedlars, so whoever might have designed the pencil might have gotten some inspiration (maybe subconscious, or maybe this is a coincidence), by Pedlar’s current range.

A Signet and a Palomino
A Signet and a Palomino

Comparing this pencil in my mind to the recently discussed Koh-I-Noor, despite it being unlikely it’s from the same factory (‘family-run company’), I expected it to be a light writer, but it isn’t. There are smoother pencils out there, including many cheaper pencils (for example the really good and great value John Lewis pencils, the more I use them, the more I like them, but performance is good. Point retention is good, too, i.e. the point doesn’t wear down too fast. The pencil also doesn’t smudge and is easy to eraser.

Two Czech pencils
Two Czech pencils

The main issue with this pencil is probably the price, £24.95 (~$39; €31.50) for ten pencils. You do get a nice cardboard box with these pencils, but the price makes you compare this pencil to other high end pencils …where it can’t really compete and it therefore looks like a niche / hipster product.

Point retention
Point retention


Price and exchange rates: December 2014

You can find Palimpsest’s review of the Signet on her blog.

I would like to thank Ms Karie from Pedlar’s for the Signet pencils, which I have received for free.

Lots of links..

Today: a collection of links. Most of them have already been posted on the Bleistift Facebook page, but since most blog readers don’t look at the Facebook page I’ll repost them here.

5 years Bleistift – behind the scenes

It’s been five years since Bleistift’s first blog post. Time flies.

Today: a little look behind the scenes – from a web point of view.

Comments and Spam

Visitor numbers have been fairly constant over the years. Bleistift gets about 100 to 150 visitors a day. My guess is that many of them are actually not people, but spam bots …but it’s difficult to say exactly how many are real, human visitors and how many are not. Many spam comments have been left, but over the years there have also been nearly 1500 real comments. WordPress’ Plugin ‘Akismet’ is pretty good at sorting out spam, which means that real comments don’t end up in the spam folder very often. The spam comments Bleistift gets often contain links to web sites selling fake watches or medicine, but some don’t seem to contain links at all or they contain links to unsuspicious looking web sites. I guess some of these comments that don’t make sense, but that don’t link to any medicine,fake watch, etc. websites are designed to probe the spam filter of blogs without giving away who sent them. I think Kevin’s guest review of the Dahle 133 is worth being mentioned here. It’s probably the blog post most ‘attacked’ by spam or the one where spam comments are most difficult to detect by the system – recently it received about 50 spam contents on that blog post that were so ‘good’ that the Akismet plugin didn’t recognise them as definite spam.


The origin of the visitors hasn’t changed a lot over the years. You can see this in the table below, which contrasts where the visitors from the last month came from and how that compares to visitors overall since the start of the blog. This information is recorded using Google Analytics. This is a lazy solution and it would be better if I wouldn’t use a third party tool for that. Maybe one day I’ll switch. I probably don’t even have to mention that the best blog around, Lexikaliker, does this the way it should be done, i.e. without third party tools.

October 2014 All time 
United States30%United States33%
United Kingdom10%United Kingdom11%
South Korea3%Spain2%
Italy2%South Korea2%

When it come to the web sites that send visitors to Bleistift not too much has changed either. Pen Addict was always the site that refers most visitors. If there is ever a spike in visitor numbers I can be sure that this means the Pen Addict has included Bleistift in their Ink Links.

October 2014 All time 
The Pen Addict15%The Pen Addict24%
Pencil Revolution11%Pencil Revolution9%
Lexikaliker7%Pencil Talk9%
Pencil Case Blog3%Dave's Mechanical Pencils5%
Pencils and other things3%Contrapuntalism2%
Pencil Talk2%Stationery Traffic1%
Just another pen2%Notebook Stories1%
Scribomechanica2%Pencil Wrap (defunct)1%
Blackwing Pages1%Notebook loves pen (defunct)1%



The blog software I’m using is WordPress. It’s quite nice, but some things are not as nice as with other blog software. One example: Another blog software shows links to other blogs by date of the last post and with the name of the latest article. I did install a plugin, so that WordPress behaves in a similar way, but this solution is not that elegant – it takes a very long time for this information to be displayed when you visit Bleistift.

Bleistift is hosted a server I rent. This means it does cost money and I have to update the software myself, but the advantage is that the visitors don’t have to see advertising. Speaking of updating, I should really get round to changing the template so that it’s responsive and looks good on a mobile device …but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon.

A Viking invasion

The Vikings are coming

No one expects a Viking invasion [1]Their chief weapon is surprise… surprise and fear… fear and surprise… Their two weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency… Their three weapons are fear, … Continue reading

…and when it’s coming there’s no escape.

Luckily I, Langskæg [2]the viking name given to be by Henrik, got invaded by the trading, not the raiding kind of Viking, thanks to Henrik’s generosity. You might know Henrik, who is from Denmark, from his comments on different stationery blogs.

How a full blown Viking invasion looks like.
How a full blown Viking invasion looks like.

Viking outside Denmark

Unfortunately Viking is one of those brands that is not very well known outside its home country. I hope that will change in the future. From my point of view Viking got most exposure in the English speaking stationery world when their products where released as past of the 2012 Rad and Hungry Denmark kit and the 2014 Rad and Hungry Denmark kit and booster pack. Rad and Hungry are also currently working with Viking to release their own notebooks and pencils, how exciting is that…


Viking’s history – a round trip from Denmark to Sweden and back

The Viking brand was registered in 1913 and the first pencils were produced 100 years ago, in 1914 [3]To commemorate the 100th anniversary Viking has released the Viking 100, a fountain pen (top right in the picture). , when the Danish matchstick factory H. E. Gosch started making pencils. The pencil branch of the matchstick factory was the brainchild of Folmer Preisler, who married the daughter of the matchstick factory’s owner. The beginning wasn’t easy, but after the two World Wars Viking was doing well. Their problems only started in the early 1970s, when a Swedish competitor bought the matchstick factory which, at that time, was still Viking’s parent. Just some context: At that time the Swedish matchstick maker Svenska Tändsticksaktiebolaget had a monopoly in Europe and many other parts of the world – when I was a kid these were the only matchsticks you could get (they had a monopoly in Germany from 1930 until 1983). After being taken over the Danish pencil factories closed down – the new owner was not interest in pencils. Later Viking ended up with Esselte, who used to own Dymo and who still owns Leitz. In 2010 Viking became Danish again when it was bought by Creas. Since Creas took over they started moving production back to Denmark or as close to Denmark as possible. They also put an emphasis on simple, good design and environmentally friendly production.


My Vikings

I’m really excited about trying out the new Vikings I have received from Henrik. The ones I have used so far, from Rad and Hungry, were very nice writers! A while ago I decided to produce shorter blog posts in the future, to make them less boring, so I won’t talk about the Viking stationery now but will write more about the them in a future blog post.


I’d like to thank Henrik for all the nice Viking stationery I have received. He’s not linked to Viking, doesn’t work in stationery and paid for the goods out of his own pocket.

Nearly all of the information in the Viking history paragraph was taken from Viking’s web site.

You can see more Viking products on their Danish web site.



1 Their chief weapon is surprise… surprise and fear… fear and surprise… Their two weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency… Their three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency… and an almost fanatical devotion to stationery… Their four… no… Amongst their weapons… Amongst their weaponry …are such elements as fear, surprise… I’ll better leave that now and continue the blog post…
2 the viking name given to be by Henrik
3 To commemorate the 100th anniversary Viking has released the Viking 100, a fountain pen (top right in the picture).