Faber-Castell


Paul Kidby’s pencil 2

This weekend saw the BBC airing their Terry Pratchett documentary Back in Black.

In the documentary Paul Kidby, the artist responsible for most of the fantastic Discworld artwork, can be seen with a rather impressive, hand sharpened pencil point on a Castell 9000. I think it can certainly compete with the longest pencil points I have seen in use. It’s even longer than the one on the James Bond cover.

Paul Kidby’s Castell 9000 (image © BBC Scotland)

In the documentary you can also see Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett’s former assistant, signing books with a Lamy Vista filled with green ink. Nice.

Rob Wilkins’ Lamy Vista (image © BBC Scotland)

If you are in the UK you can watch the documentary on BBC iPlayer for another 28 days.


The screenshots have been taken from Terry Pratchett documentary Back in Black. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Faber-Castell at Insights X 2016 1

After the quick interruption to my Insights X posts (I just had to post about October’s Pencil Pot of the Month, so that the post is on time): let’s continue with all the cool stuff from Insights X and move on to Faber-Castell.

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to look around at their stand as much as I would have wanted to, so this is not a in-depth as I would have liked it to be.

Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell did hand out goody bags to everyone from the blogger group and I am quite happy that this included the green (Castell 9000) version of the Perfect Pencil. You might remember that I lost mine after years of use. This summer I bought a new green one in Müller, a German drug store chain. They sell them for around €8. Even though I got one again since summer it’s nice to have a spare one (the one from the goody bag) – just in case I lose it again. In my opinion the Castell 9000 version of the Perfect Pencil is by far the best product Faber-Castell is selling (but I also love their dust free eraser).

Magnum Perfect Pencil

There were also some Perfect Pencil related news: there’s a new Magnum version of the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil, but Sean has already mentioned this a few weeks ago, so it might not be news to you.

Pixel-it

One of the new line of products Faber-Castell presented was the Pixel-it line. My guess is that if adults want to be kept busy with colouring books then children want that to. Faber-Castell thinks that with normal ‘connect the dots’ pictures you often know in advance what the final result will be.

fabercastell-pixel-1

This reminds me of a scene from Red Dwarf with our favourite Scouser. This video should hopefully start at the right scene (7 minutes 44 seconds in).

With these new Pixel pictures you don’t draw lines but colour squares / pixels that make up the picture. The colour you are supposed to use is printed as a number in the square, which solves the problem of making it too easy to recognise the shape of the final picture too soon. I think it is possible to recognise some shapes, before starting to colour the picture – especially if there are areas of colours represented by a single digit number next to areas represented by a double digit number, but the surprise doesn’t get spoiled as much as with connect the dots pictures.

fabercastell-pixel-2

Here’s a magnification of the picture above so that you can see how the numbered pixels look like:

fabercastell-pixel-3

Karl Box

The centrepiece of Faber-Castell’s stand was the Karl Box. They were so proud of it, they also presented it at the entrance of the trade fair1. It contains a selection of Faber-Castell pens and has been created together with Karl Lagerfeld. It’s limited to 2,500 and the price is 2,500, too – €2,500 that is.

Faber-Castell Karl Box

Other items

I was quite excited to see Insights X branded Grip 2001 pencils. Unfortunately they were not part of the goody bag.

insightsx-grip

In the press pack I saw that Faber-Castell has also released

  • new pens in their Ambition range with a good looking guilloche pattern,
  • white, grey and black pencils in the style of their Grip 2001 pencils, but the dots looking like crystals, similar to the Staedtler pencils with crystal dots,
  • different, new sets of coloured pens and pencils
  •  and new colours for the Grip 2010 and 2022 pens

Except the Magnum Perfect Pencil, mentioned above, Graf von Faber-Castell has also released

  • desk accessories made from leather
  • a very good looking pen roll made from leather
  • ‘Limited Edition Heritage’ fountain pens

uni-ball / uni / Mitsubishi Pencil

This might not be well known outside the German speaking countries, but in Germany (maybe even more markets, I don’t know) Faber-Castell is distributing uni-ball products. I am not sure when this started, but when I was still living in Germany uni-ball products didn’t have the Faber-Castell logo printed on them. Now they do, so I am not sure whether the cooperation is just more obvious now or whether there was no cooperation in the past.

uni-ball

For the Insights X that meant that Faber-Castell and uni / Mitsubishi Pencil were next to each other. Faber-Castell also included uni-ball products in their press releases. This included the ‘Trend’ version of the uni-ball Air, a pen I was disappointed with, mainly because of the false claims in their UK advertising. Well, those claims about producing fine and broad lines are the same in Faber-Castell’s press release, but at least they don’t seem to be the big selling point for Faber-Castell. Faber-Castell also presented the uni-ball Power Tank Trend – the advertising seems to indicate that this pen is similar to a Fisher Space Pen.

When I asked at the uni / Mitsubishi Pencils stand about pencils I was told that they don’t do pencils in this market and therefore don’t have any here. Maybe not selling pencils in this market is part of the agreement they have with Faber-Castell? Who knows.

Outside Insights X – Karstadt

The most exclusive Faber-Castell products were not at Insights X though, instead I found them in Karstadt, a department store in Nuremberg’s city centre – just opposite Staedtler’s shop.

I wonder whether Faber-Castell thought something along the lines of ‘If Staedtler has a shop in the city centre we also want to make sure we have a big presence in Nuremberg, the closest city to our headquarter’. Well, what I saw in Karstadt were the most expensive Graf von Faber-Castell products I have seen in my life.

Here are some of the highlights.

Grav von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam

Grav von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam

Two Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam. One of them will set you back €3,500.

And here’s the pencil that is worth more than my car: a Perfect Pencil for €10,000.

The white gold and diamonds Perfect Pencil. Only 99 have been made.

The white gold and diamonds Perfect Pencil. Only 99 have been made.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take more photos with my phone because a shop employee told me off, saying that I need a signed letter from management if I want to take photos of the expensive pens. Well, luckily my wife was able to take the photo of the €10,000 pencil with her mobile, but the employee watched us with hawk eyes2, so we didn’t dare to take a close up photo of the pencil 8^(

I was surprised to see that Karstadt didn’t sell any Pelikan or Staedtler products. I found that rather odd as other department stores like Kaufhof sell these brands.


As usual please open the links on the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution (otherwise you can’t see the €10,000 pencil well).

Please have a look a Lexikaliker’s aggregator Insights X post if you want an overview and read more Insights X posts.

  1. Hmm, somehow reminds me of the old Remington ad. []
  2. Suspecting we plan a heist to get the pencil out? []

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II 7

There were a few great blog posts about Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil on Sean’s (retired) Pencils and Music blog and the (also retired) Pencil Talk blog had a whole series of blog posts about the different versions.

I have used Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil for quite a few years now and have mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I thought the blog posts I have don’t pay adequate tribute to this great pencil, so here is a closer look (I don’t dare to call it a review) at the cheapest version available.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

The Perfect Pencil II

Officially called the Perfect Pencil II, but sometimes called the Perfect Pencil junior (for example at Cult Pens while The Journal Shop calls it Perfect Pencil II) this pencil was released in 2007. There are different colours available (blue, red, black, blackberry – the article number starts with 18 29, followed by another number for the colour) and this pencil can be bought for £3 (~$3.95; €3.55) or less. I bought mine in Shanghai and I think I paid the equivalent of £2 or less.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II

Like the more expensive perfect pencils it can be used as

  • a cap to protect the pencil point, making the pencil pocket safe
  • as an extender to write more comfortable with short pencils

and it features a built-in sharpener.

It is best to be used with eraser tipped pencils and official refills are shorter than normal so that the perfect pencil fits in shirt pockets etc.

It’s not bad looking, but for my taste the Castell version is much better looking ..and less bulky, but also a few times more expensive, so more of a problem when you lose it (I lost mine after a few years of use).

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II and Animail envelope

The Perfect Pencil’s history

The first perfect pencil, the brainchild of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell,  was part of the Graf von Faber-Castell line and came out in 1993. Back then the eraser was in the extender.

1997 Faber-Castell released more affordable perfect pencils (the Castell and Design versions are still available) and a year later the posh Graf von Faber-Castell perfect pencil changed to the more familiar version with the eraser under a small cap.

The perfect pencil line in 1997

The perfect pencil line in 1997

A very simple perfect pencil time line

A very simple perfect pencil time line

 

Here’s a video where I look at the Perfect Pencil II.

I suggest you click on it to open it in YouTube, you then get a higher resolution and you can play it with a higher speed on most devices (I like 1.5x). This video also looks at how products in China are marked (origin and date) and shows Shangching‘s Tomoe River notebook I use for diagrams in this blog.

Other manufacturers have released similar products.

Have a look at the Pencil Revolution’s review of Staedtler’s The Pencil and the KUM Tip-Top Pop Pencil.

More Perfect Pencils

If you want to move up to a more expensive version I recommend the Castell version, which can be bought for under £10 (~$13.15; €11.80). I have previously looked at the black edition of the Castell Perfect Pencil.

There is also the more direct successor available, the Perfect Pencil III, bulkier, but with a built-in waste box. The cheapest seller I found in the UK so far is the Journal Shop where it sells for £3.95.

If you like to read more about the perfect pencil: Here are more Perfect Pencils at other blogs

John the Monkey compared the Perfect Pencil II and the Castell version.

Lung Sketching Scrolls had a look at the Fun version seen in the image of the brochure above.

Pens! Paper! Pencils had a look at the Castell version.

Economy Pens had a look at the Castell version.

The Well-Appointed Desk had a look at the Perfect Pencil II.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil II


Exchange rates: July 2016 (post-Brexit vote exchange rate)

As usual: please open the images in a a new tab to see the high-res version.

I would like to thank Faber-Castell’s Edith Luther for the additional information she has provided.


Faber-Castell Columbus 17

Faber-Castell Columbus

Today: Faber-Castell’s Columbus pencil, which you might remember from Contrapuntalism’s blog post about the Columbus’ catalogue number.

Last October1 I bought a dozen Columbus in HB for £6.98 including postage from eBay (~$10.10; €9). I like pencils with a theme, and with the Columbus theme and the little ship printed on the pen this pencil doesn’t disappoint2.

Faber-Castell Columbus

 

The Columbus did have many different article numbers since it was first released. It’s current number is 2103 (the six digit number is 113100) and even though it survived it is only officially available in Ireland where it is actually distributed by Tom Martin and Company Limited, the Irish agents for Faber-Castell, not by Faber-Castell directly.

Faber-Castell Columbus

Faber-Castell in Ireland

(Image © Irish Examiner)

(Image © Irish Examiner)

In 1954 Roland Graf von Faber-Castell3 set up a factory in Fermoy in Ireland4. In the 1960s the factory was expanded further. This factory is where the Faber-Castell Columbus was being made until the factory closed down in 1990. Similar pencils where made there, too, like the (pre-)Bonanza seen at Contrapuntalism. It looks as if Ireland got so used to the Columbus pencil and as if there was still a demand for this pencil, so after the factory in Fermoy closed down Faber-Castell started making the pencil elsewhere. Tom Martin is now distributing it to satisfy national demand.

Faber-Castell Columbus

In its life the Columbus has been made in many different places: the USA, Ireland, Franconia (Bavaria). I am not sure where the current Columbus is made, the box and the pencil don’t have a “Made in” imprint, but if I was a betting man I would say they’re from Indonesia, where the Bonanza and the Goldfaber are being made.

Faber-Castell Columbus

EcoPencil

The packaging features an EcoPencil sign, something Faber-Castell is using to highlight some of their environmentally friendly pencils, but there doesn’t seem to be a definite criteria needed to get this Faber-Castell stamp of eco approval. Some Brazilian pencils with this stamp are FSC certified, but the Columbus isn’t . Instead the Columbus has PEFC certification (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes). Another  reason why the Columbus got the EcoPencil sign is its more eco friendly varnish.

Faber-Castell Columbus

Performance

The Columbus delivers solid performance, as expected from Faber-Castell. The line is very similar to what you would get from a Bonanza and from a Goldfaber. This pencil is nice and pleasant to write with. Like many Faber-Castell pencils it feels a bit harder and lighter than the same grade from other manufacturers like Staedtler, so depending on your taste you might want to buy this pencils in a slightly softer grade.

This blog post has been brought to you by the Columbus 2103 and Cyrano Jones - tribble merchant. Buy one, get ten free. Surplus quadrotriticale bought.


Price: October 2015

Exchange rates: February 2016

I’d like to thank Róisín Fleming from Tom Martin and Company Limited for the information about the EcoPencil label.

You can find more photos from Faber-Castell in Fermoy (including photos of Roland Graf von Faber-Castell)  at the Faber-Castell album on the Fermoy Facebook page.

I believe that the use of the image from from the Irish Examiner, shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

 

  1. A fitting month to buy a Columbus pencil. []
  2. …but using the article bumber 1492 instead of 2103 would make it even better []
  3. The father of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell ..and nine other children. []
  4. see p.42, Faber-Castell anniversary magazine 1761-2011; p. 110 Das Bleistiftschloss []

Schneider’s Gelion 39 refill

As you might or might not know: I prefer pencils and fountain pens to ballpoint and similar pens. This means I try to avoid using ballpoint pens if I can. Recently I had a good reason to use one, though. I spare you the details why, but suffice to say that I first tried to avoid using a ballpoint pen.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen

Instead I tried to use my seven year old Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen. Well, it was worth a try, but didn’t work. The refill cartridge was either dried out or used up. I assume it was used up, because I tried to squeeze any leftover gel out, as you might see from the dented cartridge in the photo, but I was unsuccessful.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011, Silvine 190 notebook, Staedtler stick and Schneider Gelion 39

Faber-Castell Grip 2011, Silvine 190 notebook, Staedtler stick and Schneider Gelion 39

Staedtler stick 430 M

As the Gelroller didn’t work I tried Staedler’s Welsh-made stick 430 M (also discontinued, at least the Welsh version) which I stored in the same pencil case as the Grip 2011. After many years of neglect it started writing immediately and left a clear line without any skipping. What a tough worker the Staedtler stick is! I was positively impressed.

Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue

I remember that I loved the line I got from the Grip 2011’s original cartridge, a Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue (24 97 51), but unfortunately Faber-Castell stopped making these refills. I was searching for alternatives for quite a while, but all I could find was either very expensive, from the more luxurious brands, or erasable (using an ‘ink killer’). The erasable version was even from Faber-Castell, but I wasn’t keen on erasable ink for this pen.

Schneider Gelion 39

In the end I found Schneider’s Gelion 39 Refill on The Pen Company’s web site. I ordered the blue version for £1.70 (~$2.45; €2.25).

It’s a Standard G2, parker style ballpoint refill size so it did fit the Grip 2011 Gel pen perfectly. As far as I can tell the Grip 2011 Gel pen is using exactly the same body as the Grip 2011 ballpoint pen , but with an additional “Gel” imprint at the end of the pen.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 ballpoint pen and gel rollerball

My Grip 2011 family

My impressions, based on the memory I have of the original Faber-Castell refill are quite similar to The Pen Addict’s (assuming that Schneider’s Gelion pen uses the Gelion 39 refill). I didn’t see his review until after I tried my refill, so I wasn’t influenced by his review. In a nutshell: I think it’s great refill, but on the type of paper I have tried so far the refill’s ink will get (slightly) soaked into the paper, so the border of the lines you write are not as clear as the one Faber-Castell’s discontinued refill produced. I love clear, sharp lines, but everyone is different – you might not mind.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a very reasonably priced refill that provides great value for money. Once it’s used up, which might take years, I might be looking for a refill with crisper line borders, though.


Price: January 2016

Exchange rates: February 2016

This review has also been posted on The Pen Company’s blog, but just to spell it out, I have not received money for this review (or any other reviews) and have paid for the refill.