The image in this blog post has been taken from the China Daily web site. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
Today: black pencils from China. Black because of the paint, not because of the lead or the wood. I bought these pencils in December in Keyroad, a shop I have mentioned several times so far.
OK, we’ve got the black version of the Chung Hwa 6903 and the M&G AWP34601. Chung Hwa and M&G are both from Shanghai. Just South of Shanghai is Zhejiang province, represented by the Zibom P-6000 pencil.
Chung Hwa 6903
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the, in my opinion, better looking brown version of the Chung Hwa 6903. The black version is very similar. The pencil is still round, but painted black and the cap at the end is black, too, not white. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.
Then we’ve got the hexagonal Zibom P-6000. It comes with an eraser and has the packaging I like most of these three pencils. It also comes with a sharpener, but the pencils have an unfinished end. I paid ¥7.5 (~ 75p; $1.20; 90c) for a dozen.
The last pencil in this blog post is the hexagonal M&G AWP34601. This pencil is certainly the winner is this group when it comes to the coolest model number. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.
…and the winner is:
My personal favourite is the M&G AWP34601, the only 2B pencil in this comparison The other two pencils are HB.. It’s the winner …not because of the cool model number, which sounds like a model number for some sort of high tech robot, but because the wood is not red. If anything, the AWP34601’s wood is too yellow, but I still prefer that to red wood. The runner up is the Zibom P-6000, the packaging is great, it is the cheapest in this comparison and comes with a free sharpener. The worst pencil is the Chung Hwa 6903. Yes, I know, this must be difficult to believe, as my blog post about the brown version was quite positive – but unlike the brown version this black version is just not so nice. Plus, I prefer hexagonal pencils. Lead-wise the AWP34601 is smoothest, it is a 2B after all. The P-6000 seems scratchier than the 6903. Wood-wise the 6903 has the hardest wood, so hard in fact that the auto-stop mechanism of some desktop sharpeners will not engage.
You might remember Keyroad, a stationery shop on Shanghai’s FuZhou road, from the blog post about the Simbalion Graphic Pencils or from the blog post about the Deli pencil sharpener 0635. How could I not go there again this year… This time I was actually more excited by two other shops on FuZhou road, but I will not go into more detail now and will write more about them another time.
Back to Keyroad. I bought several packs of pencils, including a few different types of wooden pencils made by M&G, a stationery manufacturer from Shanghai which I only knew as a manufacturer of mechanical pencils and other stationery, but whose wooden pencils I have either never seen or I must have forgotten about.
Chung Hwa 6903
The best looking pencil in the shop was, however, the Chung Hwa 6903. A round, brown pencil with a white-painted cap and golden lettering. What a magnificent looking pencil, at least in my (subjective) opinion. I am not really a fan of round pencils and prefer hexagonal pencils, probably because I don’t have to write using pencils for six hours in one go… Nevertheless, the elegant look of this pencil, the great combination of colours used, the lettering and, not so common for a Chinese pencil, the painted cap made this pencil the star of the shelf.
There was some disappointment when I sharpened the first 6903 a few days later, the cheapish looking red wood does take some of the magic of the pencil away. There are also some gold flecks on the pencil body near the lettering and the white cap could have been painted a bit better. The 6903 seems to have a slightly larger diameter than some other round pencils, like the Faber-Castell 9008, but compared to the 9008 the difference is less than 1mm.
Keeping in mind that this is not an expensive pencil, I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.25) for a dozen, the 6903 provides excellent value for money. The graphite transfer between pages for text written with a 6903 HB is similar to the transfer that is occuring with a Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB, definitely worse than a Staedtler Wopex HB and definitely better than a Tombow Mono 100 HB. If you have a chance to get the Chung Hwa 6903 for a good price you should definitely give it a go.
I am quite happy with these pencils, but wish there was a better version, made of cedar wood, or at least something not so red. I’d be more than happy to pay extra for the better material.
I spent Christmas and New Year in Shanghai and saw our old friend, the green Chung Hwa 101, again …on many occasions. I even think that there were more 101s and fewer unidentifiable No Name pencils than in the past. I did however see one specific pencil replacing the 101 in several places were the 101 was previously the only dominant pencil.
The contender that took over some restaurant tables and cashier desks was the Chung Hwa 6151, previously reviewed at pencil talk. The fact that the 6151 comes with an eraser must make it more desirable in many situations – like the one on the photo, where it is used by patrons to order dim sum by marking the desired types and quantities on a menu.