Magnet vs. pencil

Just one or two days after I last mentioned Stilform, they announced their latest Kickstarter project: the Stilform Aeon.

It’s a ‘pen tip holder’ that comes with two magnetically held tips:

  • one with a metal alloy end, called eternal tip, that leaves light marks on paper (and other surfaces)
  • and the other one with a graphite end on the tip.

The implied claim is that using this pen is “not at the cost of the earth’s precious resources”. I like stationery, but when marketing departments make claims like this I get very sceptical. Comparing the eternal tip to a pencil doesn’t seem to make sense: writing with metal alloy tips is not comparable to writing with a pencil. The lines that pens like this leave are very light, at least that’s the case for the metal alloy pens I have used. Based on what I have seen on the Kickstarter page the Aeon is not different.

That leaves a comparison between the graphite tip on this pen and a pencil.

Stilform’s English language social media channels don’t show photos of the Aeon, so I had to use Stilform Japan’s tweet

I might not have understood how this pen works, but I think graphite will be ‘used up’ when writing with this pen , so it looks as if to refill your pen you need to buy new graphite tips that come with magnetic ends. Generally speaking magnets are not eco friendly, so I am not convinced that buying replacement graphite tips is better than buying wood cased pencils, especially not if they are made from FSC certified wood.

Just to clarify, I don’t have a problem with the Aeon, but if you claim or imply this pen is better for the environment, and that is the opening and main point of the Kickstarter video, then it would be nice to provide some details how you came to this conclusion.

It’s great if this pen is better for the environment, but if so then explain why that is instead of just telling us and we have to believe this without an explanation.

Contains one figure per capsule

Pen catching cats

…from Bandai

…seen in the local Namco Fünscape.

One turn at the machine will set you back £4 (~€4.70; $4.80) and will get you one capsule and therefore one pen catching cat [1]The Japanese concept of stopping a blade with your hands has been turned into catching a pencil with your paws….


Price and exchange rates: July 2022

References

References
1 The Japanese concept of stopping a blade with your hands has been turned into catching a pencil with your paws…

Nespresso + Caran d’Ache

Thanks to Pen Heaven I was able to get my hands on a Nespresso + Caran d’Ache fixpencil for the purpose of writing a review.

Cooperations, like the one between Nespresso and Caran d’Ache, often use the letter “x” between the two company names, but Nespresso and Caran d’Ache have opted for the use of the “+” instead, so I will follow their approach.

Before the Fixpencil arrived I expected to see a lead holder that is basically the same as the standard Caran d’Ache (CdA) Fixpencil, just in a different colour, but to my surprise there were several unexpected, but noticeable, if small, differences.

First up: the pen itself.

The surface of the pen, or rather the paint, is less smooth that the other CdA Fixpencils I have handled so far. This surface is not too rough for your fingers and feels pleasant to use. The colour is imitating the aluminium look of the Nespresso coffee capsules.

My pen had three small indentation on the body that don’t seem to belong there. I assume this is a one-off quality control issue.

This Fixpencil is most likely not the only CdA made from recycled aluminium, as mentioned in my previous Nespresso bog post, so I assume the issue with the dents is not a direct result of using recycled aluminium. The dents could probably have occurred with any CdA Fixpencil or other hexagonal aluminium pen, like the 849 and I wouldn’t expect to to be common.

The packaging states that the pen is "made from Nespresso recycled aluminium equivalent to one capsule"

The packaging states that the pen is made from Nespresso recycled aluminium equivalent to one capsule. A very specific claim and as mentioned before I will believe this claim despite some of CdA’s previous claims that were misleading.

When I first used this lead holder I thought the pen feels lighter or ‘hollower’. After using the pen a few times I must have gotten used to it as I don’t notice this anymore, A quick trip to the scales confirmed the initial impression, though: The Fixpencil 22 and the Fixpencil 884 (Junior) both weigh 11.75g, while the Nespresso + Caran d’Ache edition weighs 11.05g.

Top to bottom: Fixpencil 884 (Junior), Nespresso + CdA, Fixpencil 22

The internal mechanism also came as a surprise. The mechanism is the same as in the currently available Fixpencil 884 (Junior). I write “currently available” as the 884 might have contained a different mechanism in the past, but I am not able to verify this.

The use of the 884’s mechanism also means that the Nespresso’s push button does not come with an (emergency) sharpener. As shown on the photo above, the push button is the end of an internal plastic pipe.

Next: the lead

To me the Nespresso lead is a big let down. The packaging states that the lead is “partly produced with Nespresso recycled coffee grounds”.

Weight-wise the lead is similar to the CdA Technograph lead, but the surface looks very different: rough and matt instead of smooth and shiny.

This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately, the lead doesn’t write very well, unless you are keen on faint pencil lines. If wonder if those coffee grounds would have had a better use if they were used as fertiliser. Depending on the paper you write on this issue is more or less pronounced, but for me the Nespresso lead’s attributes are nowhere near as desirable as the Technograph’s.

Top: CdA Teachnograph lead, bottom: Nespresso + CdA lead

The lead feels smooth on most paper, but produced a very light line on paper, much lighter than what you would get from Faber-Castell for example. I mention Faber-Castell because the lines produced by their leads are already very light compared to other, like Staedtler for example. Pressing harder when writing with the Nespresso lead won’t help with producing a darker line, i.e. the lead has a high pressure insensitivity.

When you sharpen the lead to a fine point it also seems to break easier than the Technograph lead. To some extent this behaviour reminds me of the Wopex lead, just that the Nespresso lead provides a much worse writing experience. I haven’t had a chance yet to use the Nespresso wood-cased pencil and I doubt I will find someone IRL who owns some and let me try, but based on Pencil Talk’s review of the Nespresso Swiss Wood Pencils, which doesn’t mention the issues I encountered, I wonder if the lead in the Nespresso Fixpencil is worse than the one from the Nespresso pencils.

A side point, but just in case you wonder: the Nespresso lead weighs the same as the Technograph lead.

Overall, this is a nice lead holder with a good, sturdy build. It would have been nice if this Fixpencil came with the same mechanism as the Fixpencil 22. The higher price than normal Fixpencil is due to the fact that this is a Limited Edition – funnily enough that links strongly to Kiwi-D’s and Koralatov’s comments on my previous blog post.


You can find another review of this pencil at The Gentleman Stationer.

Strawberry and cream

I used to think that I have all the Safari colours I ever need, but as mentioned in February, Lamy keep bringing out wonderful (and difficult to resist) new colours and editions.

This year’s Strawberry and Cream colours are very much to my liking, so I had to go ahead and got one fountain pen in each of the two colours. They were ordered together with the Lamy xevo I discussed recently. I am currently using the strawberry-coloured one with its smooth F nib as a daily writer. These were bought from Pen Heaven in June 2022 and I paid £21.50 each.

The strawberry-red and cream-white Safaris are definitely in the Top 5 of my favourite colours, with the other colours near the top being the Savannah Green (2021), the Mango (2020) and the Griso / Grey version (which was either form 2010 or 2011, I am not sure).

If you are interested in the Lamy Safari, have a look at the Safari article at stationery.wiki. As far as I know it is the most complete overview of Lamy Safari special editions that can be found on the Internet.