Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000

Here in the UK there are several TV shows about buying holiday homes abroad or emigrating. One of those shows is “Wanted Down Under”. The format is usually the same and involves showing how much more people would earn down under and showing what to expect in terms of costs, facilities etc. I’ve never seen a whole episode, but over the years I’ve seen different bits from several episodes and (suspenseful music) they have never talked about the stationery situation down under!

Time to remedy this. Let’s look at the Castell 9000 down under.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia
The Castell 9000‘s main markings. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia
Please enlarge by clicking, so that the differences are more obvious.

For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia [1]Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia [2]Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance.. They said that prior to this they bought them from Germany, but if Faber-Castell Indonesia is out of stock Faber-Castell Australia will request replenishment from Faber-Castell Germany.

The Castell 9000‘s bar codes. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia

In reality this situation seems to be a bit more complicated than that. You might remember Kevin from New South Wales because of his guest review of the Dahle 133 sharpener. Kevin reports that for the last eight to ten years he usually only came across Indonesian Castell 9000 pencils, the exception being some mixed grade tins, which are from Germany.

Sarab from Western Australia also struggles to find the German Castell 9000, which he prefers, and reports that its not easy finding a stationery shop in Europe that will ship small orders internationally. In his experience the differences in grade of the Indonesian Castell 9000 are very subtle or non-existent. In the past he managed to get Bavarian made Castell 9000 pencils in some branches of Jacksons Drawing Supplies, but now they also only stock Indonesian made Castell 9000 pencils.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia
Only the German Castell 9000 (top) has markings on three sides. The Indonesian Castell 9000 (bottom) only has markings on two sides.

There seem to be so many unused numbers after 9000. I can see that Castell 9000 is an established brand, but I wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if the Indonesian pencil had another model number – what about 9001? It’s easy to distinguish the different 9000s anyway. In terms of colour and feel the paint of the Indonesian 9000, which doesn’t seem to be water-based, seems to be more similar to the paint used for the Mitsubishi 9800 and less similar to the one used for the Castell 9000 from Stein. The bar code, lead hardness font and print on only two sides of the hexagonal pencil also give the game away anyway…


The 'town' of Castell
The ‘town’ of Castell. The Castell 9000 is (indirectly) named after this town, through the Counts of Castell.
Nearby, on Schwanberg, you can even find pencil cedars. The first seeds to plant these trees in Bavaria were imported by Lothar von Faber (Faber, 1873, p.44) [3]Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei.

I would like to thank Sarab, who brought this issue to my attention, Faber-Castell Australia for further information, Kevin for further information and for the Indonesian Castell 9000 he sent me in October 2011 and Sean for telling me about the book referenced in the third footnote.

More Castell 9000 related posts can be found at Contrapuntalism, Pencil Talk and Bleistift.


1 Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously.
2 Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance.
3 Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei

26 thoughts on “Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000”

  1. Great summary of the 9000. I have no real problem with the lead quality of the Indonesian pencils because these are imported from Germany, but the overall package of the pencil is not in the same league as the German equivalent AND I don’t like the “deception” practised by FC in not printing the country of manufacture on the Indonesian pencils. I’m afraid if these big companies are going to manufacture away from their home base they should be BIG enough to let consumers know that.

  2. …forgot to mention, for Sarab, I use Cult Pens in the UK for German 9000s, they sell loose stock and boxed dozens, but shipping costs are a bit of a problem.

  3. Thank you for the comparison and the details. I like the 9000 from Indonesia very much – the ring colour matches the colour of the imprint (a detail which would suit the German 9000 well too) and there is no third side printed with garbage.

  4. Kevin, I also like to see useful information, like the country of manufacture, on products (Outside the world of stationery, too. I find it a shame that products from Aldi UK (a big supermarket) usually don’t have the country of origin printed on the packaging).

    Gunther, I’m not so keen on the font used for HB, I think it doesn’t fit with the rest of the pencil. I actually do like the third side of the of the 9000. They could have left the URL out, but I guess you can’t make a pencil that will appeal to all pencileers..

  5. It’s possible, but seems unlikely that this one is counterfeit – Faber-Castell Australia have confirmed that they get their pencils from the Indonesian factory and other photos I have seen, as well as information I have received from another reader (who wants to stay anonymous) confirm this information. I hope I’ll find the time soon to put his photos and info into a blog post.

  6. It’s interesting how one or two letters just slightly off will alert you to its provenance – our brains must be really absorbing much more than we think 😉 Does Kevin have his own blog or does he just put in guest appearances? 🙂

  7. Does Kevin have his own blog or does he just put in guest appearances?

    Hi Sola…i’m just a normal stationery nut. I just look for honesty and integrity from the manufacturers The barcode difference is a dead give awaybetween the German and Indonesian pencils and easily researched in the googlesphere. The Indonesian lacquer coating is not water based like it’s German counterpart – it attracts unsightly finger print smudge marks on the pencil and is definitely a more cheaply made pencil, albeit with good German lead as previously noted.

  8. Thank you for the clarification Kevin 🙂 I have to say, I’ve never been impressed with the varnish on the original Castell 9000s very much, they fade and wear terribly, much more than other pencils. And you say the Indonesian coating is worse…?!

  9. I have been told quite a few times that the varnish of the German 9000 can come off and leave green marks on the hand. – By the way, even water-based lacquers can contain up to 10% solvents. These solvents – hydrocarbons, softeners and alcohols – and the preservatives (up to 0.5%, e. g. biocides and sometimes even formaldehyde) which are necessary to prevent a microbiological attack during storage make handling of and working with these lacquers more difficult than the term “water-based” suggests.

  10. Of course, Gunther, you remind me that pencils are made of wood, after all! It’s actually amazing that they don’t rot! And we should really appreciate ones that don’t even crack or bend…

  11. Oops – ” the preservatives (up to 0.5%, e. g. biocides and sometimes even formaldehyde) which are necessary to prevent a microbiological attack during storage” applies to the storage of the lacquer, not the wood.

  12. interesting discussion this. German FC are on their *own (of the high end models) using water based finishes and there is certainly a trade off between the “‘environment friendly” FC9000s and other well known brands Tombow Mono 100, Mitsubishi Hi-Uni, Staedtler Mars 100, CDT – all of which i think use oil based finishes… an oil based finish allows for a higher standard and longer lasting finish – but, hey we’re talking about pencils here.

    *Derwent Graphic also use water based varnish with a cheap finish, but these pencils also have other reliability issues IMO.

  13. I think a big reason for switching to water based paint, linked to the environmental friendliness, was the well being of the employees – who then didn’t have to be surrounded by the bad fumes all day long. I think I might have read that on Sean’s or Gunther’s blog.

  14. Hello. Sorry to comment on very old but very interesting post. Does anyone know about the BRAZILIAN Castell 9000 ‘s ?

    They also marked them “Regent” as I thinks it the brazilian faber castell denomination and cme with a ferrule and white eraser tip.

    I’m from Peru and I used to locally find german castells on loose stock quite easily but now a days its becoming harder to get. Seems like the faber castell for this region has been pushing the brazilian production and as I read this is a similar case as Australia and indonesian castells, where you can only find germany castells from tin boxed sets.

    Now I wouldnt have any issues as im not really too picky or pro but the problem is CONSISTENCY. , I cant mix it with the germans as they grade very different and worst, I have a 2B darker and smoother than a 4B, and an H grade darker than a B!. The graphite also feels different more like 0.7 mechanical pencil “plasticness” which gives the ilussion of softer and even feel but doesnt layer or blend nearly as good as the germans.

    If anyone else has any comments about this please, I’ve been searching all over the internet about this and nobody seemed noticed it, maybe Im getting crazy and im the only one as every time I mention to retailers they look at me with a face “are you sure they not the same?”.

    Oh, btw. wood is a living thing, healthy wood (some better than others) will naturally resist bacteria and other stuff. Studies proven Wood Kitchen chop tables were “cleaner” than plastic tables.

  15. Sauna, thank you for this information. Is it the pencil that can be seen in Sola’s blog at https://pencilsandotherthings.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/pencil-shopping-in-montevideo-and-thoughts-on-cedar/ ?
    It looks similar to the Castell 9000 – could it be that the shops just think it is the same pencil and therefore put the Regent in the Castell 9000 display?
    The pencils you have seen, do they have 9000 and Regent stamped on them the same time?
    I would love to know more, so whatever you can tell us would be interesting.

  16. Yes, Matthias, I would try gather all my info togheter (and some pics too) and send it to you… I will need to find some time to sit and do it so I think I’ll be sending you a report nexxt week!

  17. Pingback: Brazilian-Made Castell 9000s – pencils and other things

  18. Late to this conversation but today I just got a couple of Faber Castell 9000 pencils which -have no indication as to their origin, but have the Regent tag on the side of the barcode, which clearly identifies them as Brazilian. The other odd thing about them is that they come with an eraser!

    Wonder who on earth thought it was a great idea to add an eraser plug -a terrible one by the way- to what is essentially a drawing pencil. Wood is the same as all other Brazilian Eco pencils, which means pretty hard and somewhat difficult to sharpen.

  19. Guillermo, thank you for this information. Did you buy them in South America? I am asking because I wonder whether the Regent made it out of South America. I guess if it did it is not officially exported by Faber-Castell.

  20. Actually I got them in North America, Mexico to be specific. I was looking for a tin set of German 9000 pencils, but the store only got individually sold items. It seems the more time passes, the less German Faber Castell products there are on this market (if at all).

    Regent seems to be a very old brand of Faber Castell Brazil. A few months ago, someone was selling dozen boxes of Regent 9000 drawing pencils dating from the 80’s. The Regent name was prominently displayed, while the Faber brand, was listed in the corner.

    By the way, the eraser plugs seem to be made out of real rubber, cause they have already dried up. The pencil has the web address for the international Faber website, so they’re not that old.

    Send me an email, and I will get you images of them.

  21. Guillermo de la Maza, thank you for this information. This is fascinating, especially because there is hardly any information available about this pencil, at least not in English.

  22. Pingback: Alt und neu – Lexikaliker

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