Last year one of the UK jewellery chains had a huge discount on some Montblanc items. This included the Montblanc M which could be had for less than 50% of the current recommended retail price. You will understand how difficult it was to resist.
The Montblanc M was designed by Mark Newson and is quite unusual for Montblanc standards. Not everyone is keen on the looks of this pen, but I love it. If you were to classify fountain pens by appearance then the M would be much closer to the Lamy dialog 3 than to your average Montblanc. Its most exotic feature is the cap which is magnetically aligned and held in place.
Unlike many other Montblanc pens which come with a converter the M not only doesn’t come with one, there’s also none available that officially fits. I successfully used the Cross Verve adapter in the past, but my Cross adapter is now back in the Verve.
I am now using what I call a Lamy/Pelikan cartridge. Probably 20 to 25 years ago these no-name cartridges got popular in parts of Europe. You could always get no-name Pelikan/standard cartridges Pelikan has a big share of the market for school fountain pens., but with the popularity of the Lamy Safari being used in schools the ink cartridge manufacturers thought of putting a Pelikan compatible end on a Lamy compatible cartridge. Clever stuff and if you don’t mind refilling your cartridge with a syringe (I don’t mind) then it is just perfect for the Montblanc M’s body with the tapered end.
The only problem is that these cartridges don’t seem to be popular in either the UK, where I live or the USA, where nearly all the Bleistift Blog readers are based – as I wasn’t able to find these in online shops. I hope online shops in the UK and the USA will stock them in the future. In Germany, you can get them under the name “Universalpatrone” on eBay and Amazon for less than 10 cents per cartridge if you buy a bigger pack.
Today: a look at the Faber-Castell Grip 2011 mechanical pencil. Many years ago I bought a gel pen from the 2011 series. Unfortunately Faber-Castell stopped this gel pen and their gel refills, but there are good alternatives available.
Just like the 2001, the Faber-Castell wood-cased grip pencil, the 2011 has a triangular design with rubbery grip dots and I have read in the past that this series of triangular gip-dotted pens was a big success and saved Faber-Castell from many headaches.
Availability and price
I paid around £10 for my grass green version at PurePens. From what I can tell these are easily available in many European counties and I have seen them in high-street stores in Germany and the UK. In the USA the situation is different: I had a look to see how much they are in the USA, but I only found one place that sells them: Amazon Marketplace – for $18.
Shape and grip
I have already mentioned the main deign feature: the triangular design with rubbery grip dots.
As always, different people buy a specific pen for different reasons. I bought the 2011 mechanical pencil so that my blue gel pen from this series has company. Other make that decision to help them write without pain: a previous colleague of mine only had items from the Faber-Castell grip line in his office. When I asked him about the reasons behind this he told me that he has carpal tunnel syndrome and that it is easier for him to write with pens from the Grip line. He only used pens from this Faber-Castell series and instead of typing on his keyboard he used dictation software. I don’t know enough about this syndrome to comment further, but it sounds as if Faber-Castell’s grip design can help people to write easier or with less pain.
Weight and the grip diameter to weight ratio
Another speciality of this mechanical pencil is the low weight, probably partly down to the clutch mechanism I will mention later. As seen in the diagram below the 2011 mechanical pencil is very much on the light side.
If you don’t only want a light pencil, but also a big grip diameter then it’s worth looking at the diameter to weight ratio. Here the Grip 2011 is near the top, with a ratio 2.5 times better than some other pencils, like the TWSBI precision. Only the the Staedtler 925-15 is doing better, thanks to its low weight and its big diameter, but it does have a slightly thinner grip diameter. The only pencil in my database with a similar grip diameter to the Grip 2011 is the Caran d’Ache 888 Infinite.
The main disappointment for many seasoned mechanical pencil fans will be the Grip 2011’s clutch mechanism: it is a very simple two-jawed plastic clutch. That’s not a problem, but many mechanical pencileers prefer a brass mechanism. Generally speaking very cheap mechanical pencils, like Staedtler’s $1 graphite 777, will come with plastic clutches, but there are also much more expensive mechanical pencils than the 2011, like the Rhodia ScRipt, that have plastic clutches.
If you want a mechanical pencil that can hold a lot of leads then the Grip 2011 might also be for you: 0.7 mm leads usually have a diameter of less than 0.7 mm. The inner diameter of the Grip 2011 is 6.75 mm. If you look at the circle packing in a circle problem you will realise that this pencil can hold a huge number of leads.
The clutch will put many potential customers off, but with it’s low wide, its good grip-ability, the above average looks and the reasonable price this pencil will have no issues finding enough customers.
Let’s start with this sentence: I don’t drink coffee but like the smell of coffee.
I obviously also like stationery and since last week I have some stationery that smells like coffee… A notebook and pen from Nespresso, made from coffee grounds.
Knives and pens, the posh ones
Nespresso has had cooperations with two other Swiss companies, linked to the recycling of their coffee capsules: Victorinox released Swiss Army Knives with scales made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules and Caran d’Ache released the 849 ballpoint pen, also made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules.
There were also cooperations with non-Swiss companies, like the one with Mikov in the Czech Republic. Their Nespresso knife is similarly priced to the Victorinox version. As far as I know, it is only available in the Czech Republic. In contrast, the Victorinox cooperation was available in many countries, but seems to have come to an end or is on hold after having run from 2016 to 2019.
Recycled aluminium is common. Wikipedia has a reference from the Economist stating that recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5% of the energy compared to making new aluminium from raw ore and a reference from the US Geological Survey stating that approximately 36% of all aluminium produced in the United States comes from old recycled scrap.
When I came across the Nespresso 849 I was first sceptical of Caran d’Ache’s claim that the Nespresso 849 is actually made from recycled Nespresso capsules. Why? Someone at Caran d’Ache, maybe the marketing department, has in the past been rather economical with facts. Best example: their Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils. They now spell out that these are wood pencils reconstituted from poplar and abachi, but in the past their marketing material gave the impression that these pencils are made from exotic wood. I am relieved that their Nespresso 849 has the text Made with recycled Nespresso capsules written in big, friendly letter on the side of the pencil. This explicitness gives me some reassurance that there is no misunderstanding and that the aluminium in the pen body contains recycled coffee capsules. I wonder whether all 849s are made with a small proportion of recycled Nespresso capsules or whether the Nespresso 849 is made from a completely different batch of aluminium. It seems easier to just mix some recycled capsules into all the scrap aluminium used to produce the new aluminium.
Caran d’Ache’s Nespresso Swiss Wood pencils seem even more exotic: The lead contains 25% coffee grounds. I’d love to see if that makes a difference in terms of erasability and writing experience. They also have metallic ‘colour capsules’ at the end. The first impression seems to be that these are made from recycled Nespresso capsules, but in their video, see below, you can see that the end is actually just paint.
Notebook and pen, the cheap (free) ones
Let’s close in on the main stars of this blog post: the notebook and pen currently being offered as a free gift to (some) Nespresso customers who place an order in the UK and some other markets. As is increasingly common in recent years, loyal customers get a worse deal: as far as I can tell this offer of a free notebook and pen with an order is by invitation only and the more Nespresso wants to bring you back into the fold the better the deal you get. I have seen similar offers from online grocery stores (Ocado) and from music streaming services (Spotify). From what I can tell the best deal offered by Nespresso to get this notebook and pen ‘for free’ was with an order of 5 strips (5*10 capsules). This includes free shipping. If you get this good 5 strips deal you spend around £20 and get the notebook and pen plus 50 capsules, i.e. enough for 50 cups of coffee.
The notebook contains 100% recycled paper and the cover contains the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee grounds waste.
The first thing you notice when you open the cardboard box the notebook and pen come in is the strong coffee smell. I am not sure whether this strong and nice coffee odour is purely down to the coffee grounds used to produce the notebook (and maybe the pen) or whether the items have been ‘perfumed’ to smell like coffee or to increase the existing smell.
The notebook is made in the Netherlands and has a thick plastic-like board at the front and back. I assume it is some sort of composite material made form plastic and coffee grounds, similar to the Staedtler Wopex made from wood and plastic or the Kupilka (50% pine and 50% thermoplastic). The patterns on the notebook cover do remind me of the ones found on the Kupilka.
The paper used is nice, but is not fountain pen friendly. It is however suitable for gel pens.
The pen has a similar look to the notebook cover, so I assume it is also made from coffee grounds, but I haven’t seen any official description from Nespresso that confirms this. The clip of the pen looks similar to the clip found on the Lamy Noto. I did not find any markings on the pen or refill, so am not sure who made it or which country it is from. I also did not see any markings on the black ballpoint refill it came with.
If it contains coffee grounds it is not the first pen available with coffee inside. A few years ago Shangching sent me the Fabula pencil, which also contains coffee.
A nice looking notebook and pen. I wish the paper was fountain pen friendly and both items were more easily available. If you can get your hands on them with a good offer then I’d certainly go for it.
The ballpoint pen looks nice, so I might look into putting a gel refill into it. That would make me use it more.
I noticed that Lamy is releasing a limited brown edition of the Lamy 2000 fountain pen to celebrate the 2000’s 55th anniversary.
It is an absolutely beautiful pen, but unfortunately, it also comes with a price tag to match.
For everyday items brown can be a very nice colour. It often reminds me of wood or leather. In the past fake or real wood on everyday items used to be more common than they are now. My Atari VCS 2600, for example, had a fake wooden front and the brown colour complemented the console nicely. Later versions without the brown front just didn’t look as impressive.
With brown colours sometimes appealing to my taste I also bought the Samsung Galaxy S3 in brown. At the time I read a review where the author made fun of the brown colour option. I didn’t quite understand why – to me, it was the best looking option.
Sarasa Grand Vintage
Back to pens: by coincidence, a few days before I found out about the Lamy 2000 in brown, I ordered the Sarasa Grand Vintage in brown. I only found two online shops in the UK selling the Sarasa Grand or Grand Vintage: MiSo Paper and Awesome Pens. In the end, I ordered from Awesome Pens (first time) as they also had the Uni-ball One I saw in a Pen Addict review.
The Sarasa is an unusual pen for me. According to Unsharpen it was released in 2000. I don’t think I saw it in the year 2000 and I first came across it in 2001 when I saw the ones my wife bought. I didn’t like them at all at the time, mainly because I didn’t like the look of the early clip. The newer clips with a metal spring do however look more attractive at least to me, I wonder if some people prefer the old look…. So much so that the whole pen suddenly looks attractive to me. Once I saw the scented, i.e. smelly, version I was sold and bought some Sarasas myself.
Unfortunately, neither MiSo Paper, nor Awesome Pens, the shops that had the Sarasa Grand I ordered, had the beautiful Sarasa R I saw in a Pen Addict Giveaway – in fact, I haven’t found any online shop in the UK selling the Sarasa R. The white colour of the Uni-ball One and the Sarasa R gives them a lovely clean look. That clean look reminds me a bit of the Lamy Safari Griso, mentioned previously.
Lamy 2000 brown
Now that the topic has circled back to Lamy it’s time to talk about the Lamy 2000 in brown.
When I checked the price I was rather disappointed. Here in the UK this set will cost nearly £500. In the USA the set will sell for $579. The set is limited to 3,300 pieces which explain the price, but I’d rather prefer an affordable version that can be used than an expensive limited version that will end up being a collector’s piece ending up in someone’s drawer. For comparison: my Lamy 2000 from 2008 was €89 (€105 / $124 in today’s money), my Lamy 200 from 2011 was £92 (£109 / $128 in today’s money). No matter how nice the colour, if I had the brown edition I would probably get the black 2000 out instead, as I would be worried the expensive and irreplaceable brown version would get damaged. Some people collect watches or motorbikes, so I can see that £500 can be cheap, compared to other hobbies, so I hope many of these brown 2000s get used.