Just a quick blog post for today’s 12th anniversary of the Bleistift blog:
One of Count Alexander von Faber-Castell’s estates, Wolfgangshof, maybe five miles from Faber-Castell’s headquarters, was recently used as the backdrop for a TV show about Franconian folk music (as far as I know the first TV show of its kind).
There doesn’t seem to be any geoblocking going on as I can watch this video here in the UK without problems. It is available from the BR Mediathek (from Bavaria’s public-service radio and television broadcaster).
Count Alexander von Faber-Castell was the first “Faber-Castell” Count – before his marriage he was known as Count Alexander zu Castell-Rüdenhausen.
It must have been at least ten years since I’ve last been to Lancaster. I’m glad we went today to have a look at the Lancaster Festa Italia. The city centre was full of stalls, offering Italian food, drinks and more.
On our walk through the different streets, just after the super car section where all the Ferraris were on display, we got lucky found a little stationery store that just opened a week ago: analog shop
The shop is run by Melanie and Sherry. They were very friendly and also insisted that every customer who enters should sanitise their hands.
Next to the exotic smelling hand sanitiser was even was a box with face masks, presumable for customers who would like one, but didn’t bring their own. It’s great to see that this is one of a small number of shops that cares for the safety of their customers Compared to other countries with much lower infection rates there isn’t much hand sanitising and face mask wearing going on here in the UK anymore.
On display was a great selection of the kind of stationery you don’t usually find in the UK high street chains: lots of Kaweco, Lamy, Rhodia (always the nice stuff from their range of course) but also smaller brands, like ANDSONS, a leather manufacturer from Rehau in Franconia.
I walked away with a new £36 ANDSONS pen roll made from felt and leather.
The shop keepers told me that in another week the selection of stationery on offer will have grown even further.
I’m not sure when I’ll get to go to Lancaster again, but I’ll make sure I’ll visit analog shop again.
Lidl UK has a few nice Staedtler offers in store again.
You can get a pack of Indonesian Minervas or German eraser-tipped Noris colour pencils, now called ‘Noris erasable’ (great for writing / marking text etc) plus many other items (including jumbos) for £1.99 or 2 for £3.
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.