Sorted By Manufacturer

Triple outdated

Seen in our scout hut – when sharpening the pencils there with the Rolls Royce of pencil sharpeners: old Noris school pencils, with several attributes that the new Noris school pencils don’t have any more:

  • the label, including the fonts used, has changed quite a bit
  • the factory in Pontyclun, where these pencils were made, does not exist any more
  • the new version is made with upcycled wood

It was nice to come across these in the wild. If you like to see more Noris pencils in the wild have a look the the Noris in the wild page.

PS: It was a surprise to also find the UK’s official ballot pencil, used in election, in the scout hut’s collection of pencils. It’s not the first time I came across unexpected pencils in a scout hut.

Broken stationery surprise

Things can break – of course they can, but I was still surprised when a pen and an eraser, both not used much, broke.

Items can be ‘worn out’, but with good stationery you will usually have used up the item in question, or will have refilled it a few times, before that happens. Both items this blog post is about are from renowned manufacturers, so you don’t expect them to ‘wear out’ so soon.

Items can be misused, e.g. when excessive force is applied. The items in question were however treated carefully. The pen was always in a pen cup on my desk. It’s a pen cup I have used for many years, but that hasn’t been shown in the Pencil Pot of the Month series yet. The eraser has always been in a protected, padded compartment in the backpack I bring to work.

There can be manufacturing defects, but based on the reputation of the manufacturers and the specific mass-produced nature of the items that doesn’t seem likely.

The items in question are

  • an eraser from Mono. This is the version without writing on the sleeve so that it is permissible in Japanese exams
  • and a Schneider Slider Xite. One of the best looking and best writing ballpoint pens I know. The design is IMHO nearly on par with the uni-ball one. The uni-ball one is of course no ballpoint pen, but if we were to compare the look of the pens the uni-ball would only win narrowly because of the nicer clip and the matte plastic of the main body whereas the Schneider is produced with a less attractive glossy surface. Schneider’s Viscoglide ink is really great. If you haven’t tried it out yet, please consider doing so at the next opportunity.

Back to the topic of the two items breaking: The best explanation I can come up with is that there might be some sort of design or material flaw or the materials used got ‘exhausted’.

Please excuse the fibres / lint on the eraser ..nearly impossible to remove and based on the appearance the little fibres must be from my backpack. Why did it break? I’m not sure but my best guess is that at some point the eraser must have gotten a tiny crack that got bigger over time.

In the case of the Slider Xite I wonder if the biobased plastic is to blame on the early failure. As mentioned earlier, the pen was always in a pencil pot on my desk, so it shouldn’t have been exposed to any strong forces, e.g. during transportation. Interestingly enough the sticker on my pen says that the pen body is made from 90% biobased plastic. The current Schneider web site for the Slider Xite mentions however 70% biobased plastic in the pen body. Could it be that the plastic mix was changed because of issues with the plastic durability? Another hypothesis is that the pen was mishandled in the shop where and before I bought it ..and I didn’t notice until it was too late. In any case: some Sellotape stuck in the right place means that I will use this pen until the refill (original fill?) it came with will be used up.

Nespresso + Caran d’Ache fixpencil, again

This is a quick follow-up post on the Nespresso + Caran d’Ache fixpencil I got from Pen Heaven last year.

A quick reminder: My fixpencil came with the less desirable mechanism from the fixpencil 884. This means it also didn’t come with a sharpener in the push button.

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

As shown from the comments left by some of the readers, there are (at least) two different versions of the Nespresso fixpencil: some, like mine, come with the innards of the fixpencil 884, but if you’re lucky you can get a Nespresso fixpencil with the mechanism of the fixpencil 22.

Bibi, who commented on the original post, also sent photos of her fixpencil with the fixpencil 22 mechanism, thank you. I am sharing her photos below:

Image copyright: Bibi
Image copyright: Bibi

How to distinguish the upcycled from the wood-cased Noris

In a recent blog post I talked about the new upcycled Noris in the UK. The upcycled version is extruded using a composite wood/plastic material instead of wood. The lead is also extruded and quite different to traditional pencil leads. Glenn, who is a Bleistift blog reader, told me that down South, in London where he lives, the change to the upcycled version of the Noris started last Summer. I guess there’s a higher Noris turnover over there. Around here there are still supermarkets that have not even started stocking the upcycled Noris and only sell the older wood-cased version.

We then also talked about how to recognise if the pencil is upcycled or not. There can be some confusion as I have seen upcycled Noris in the old packaging and Glenn told me that he has seen upcycled Noris pencils that don’t have “Upcycled Wood” written on the barrel.

Here’s a little video that spells out how to recognise which version you are seeing (based on wood grain and lacquer near the cap).

Other extruded Staedtler pencils

After a posting about Staedtler’s upcycled wood pencil, the pencil formerly known as Wopex, I want to show another extruded pencil sold under the Staedtler brand. This one isn’t quite as easy to get hold of as the upcycled wood ones.

This is a Chinese-made set of pastel colour pencils.
While I am not aware of Staedtler having its own factories in China, the company does ask other manufacturers to produce goods to their specifications. The Noris 511 120 sharpener is one such example, as is the pastel pencil set shown here.

If you look at the packaging you see icons that indicate that you shouldn’t sharpen this pencil in a rotary sharpener, presumable because of the hardness of the material that encases the lead.

When looking at the ‘wood replacement’ you can actually see what seem to be tiny air bubbles in the material, presumably to make the material softer. This look reminds me very much of the BIC evolution pencil. The air bubbles might help to make the pencil easier to sharpen, by making the material less dense compared to many other recycled material pencils, like the ones made from CD cases (see Battle of the eco pencils or Lancashire Science Festival pencil).

factory sharpened they come like this