Year: 2014

Stationery weekend

What a stationery weekend.

First… Sean told me that Graf von Faber Castell’s pen of the year was announced [1]More about the previous years’ pens here..

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack
The Denmark Booster pack

Then… I got the Pelikan Wanderlust box (pictures to follow). It’s a box with Pelikan ink travelling the world. I was supposed to get mine in December, but the box seems to be travelling to some remote islands and I was told it was held up in customs [2]It’s too late now to join Wanderlust, but Justanotherpen started a similar project..

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack
Danske blyanter

Then… I got the Denmark booster pack I won in Rad and Hungry‘s hunt. Nice!

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack
…from the misfits stack

References

References
1 More about the previous years’ pens here.
2 It’s too late now to join Wanderlust, but Justanotherpen started a similar project.

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.

castell9000-indonesia2
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.

References

References
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

How to sharpen a Wopex

After Pencil Revolution’s Wopex post and the following discussion on how to sharpen a Wopex: a photo of a Deli 0668 sharpened Wopex.

Deli sharpened Wopex
Typical pattern created when sharpening a Wopex with a cylindrical sharpener. Click to enlarge.

For many months now I have hardly ever sharpened my Wopeces with anything other than a Deli 0668. For that purpose I have one Deli 0668 at home and one in the office. The 0668’s angle of 20° is more suitable for the Wopex than the more acute angle of ~17°-18° the Deli 0635 will produce.

One warning though, the hardness of the Wopex can make the auto-stop fail. If you notice that the sharpener doesn’t stop, release the pencil holder (back to it’s original position) to avoid more of the pencil being fed further towards the burr cylinder. To finish the sharpening process just keep turning the handle until there is no more resistance .

Handicraft with Bleistift IV – epic fail

A fake Noris. They didn't try very hard, but I'm sure many customers who are not so familir with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns.
A fake Noris. The company behind it didn’t try very hard, but I’m sure many customers who are not so familiar with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns. It even features a black strip between two yellow sides.

Long time readers might remember my blog post about the Reynolds 432 and the Nataraj 621, both of which look pretty much like a Staedtler Tradition. There are also countless Staedtler Noris copies – previously I’ve mentioned the Fox Essentials. Recently, I’ve come across a quite cheeky copy of the Noris, when one of my students was using it in class. I call it a cheeky copy, because it features a red cap, just like the original Noris …but the copied pencil’s cap is rather ugly in compared to the original.

Noris eco in a Leuchtturm Loop
The Noris eco is my daily pencil. The Leuchtturm Loop has been reused from a previous diary, thanks to a paper riveter.

A few weeks later I also finally got my hand on a Noris eco. I planned to get one from Cult Pens when I order from them again, but then I saw the Noris eco in WH Smith, where they sell for 85p (~$1.40; €1.05) each. I also had a look at my local Ryman, but they didn’t sell them there, even though they sell them in their official eBay outlet [1]It’s difficult to find there, though – they spell Staedtler wrong, even though they do sometimes get the spelling right, e.g. for the Staedtler Traditional [sic] pencil..

Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

The lovely Noris eco is now my daily pen in my diary’s loop.

One thing I noticed: the green colour of the Noris eco seems virtually identical to the Wopex in 2H.

Top: Noris eco - Bottom: Wopex 2H
Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

While the Noris has a more complicated pattern [2]The six sides of the hexagonal Noris are painted like this:
black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow, black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow.
, the Noris eco has a simpler pattern [3]The six sides of the Noris eco are painted like this:
black, green, black, green, black, green.
. I assume this is because it’s not so easy to extrude a thin black strip precisely over a corner.

Now, if the Noris eco is just a green Wopex with black strips and if there are fake Noris (plural: Norises?) anyway, why not make your own (fake?) version from a yellow Wopex?

Yellow Wopex and a Noris
I’ve only ever seen the yellow Wopex in Asda and on Ebay. I assume the ones on eBay were bought in Asda, where they are very cheap.

To increase my chances of getting acceptable looking black strips on the pencil I decided to cover the areas not to be painted with a tape.

The taped Wopex
The taped Wopex. The tape dispenser in the background is an old Bakelite model.

I then used a permanent marker to paint the Wopex. As you can see it all went belly up. Somehow the tape didn’t stick well and the lines from the black marker were not very straight …so I didn’t bother to do the thin strips carefully either. If you want to try it and are successful: Try to do the red cap using nail polish. Pencil Revolution has further instructions.

Epic fail!
Epic fail!

 


Price and exchange rates: January 2014

I’d like to thank Kamil Musial for showing me the “Stationery” Staedtler Noris copy.

References

References
1 It’s difficult to find there, though – they spell Staedtler wrong, even though they do sometimes get the spelling right, e.g. for the Staedtler Traditional [sic] pencil.
2 The six sides of the hexagonal Noris are painted like this:
black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow, black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow.
3 The six sides of the Noris eco are painted like this:
black, green, black, green, black, green.