Faber-Castell


Fake! 6

This is a public service announcement. <Muzak playing in the background>

Many of our citizens have already been affected by a new type of fraud. The shameless fraudster don’t stop their relentless efforts to cheat us out of our well deserved stationery, working on schemes to exploit our deep desires for luxurious writing instruments.

The latest victim of the fraudsters is one of the staple pencils found in the office supply cabinet of bankers and dictators of small countries, the Graf von Faber-Castell Eine Cassette * hochfeiner Taschenbleistifte * Nr. II, versilbert.

Luckily, the forger behind this fake pencil that offers incredible resemblance to the original Graf von Faber-Castell made a tiny, but important mistake. This means that the fake pencil can be spotted without the need for carbon dating:
Unlike the real pencil, which is inscribed “Graf von Faber-Castell” the forger must have been a bit too much of a Tom Selleck fan and inscribed the cap ‘Magnum’. Open the picture in a new tab to compare the details. They also seem to have used a TiTi Kyung In T-Prime which had repeated appearances in this blog since 2009.

If you have any tips that could lead to the arrest of the forger please contact the Posh Stationery department of your local anti fraud organisation.


Just to spell it out to avoid misunderstandings: I can’t say this is a popular pencil (it’s not a popular Montblanc model) so I doubt anyone (other than myself for the photos in this blog post) would create a fake version.


Traces of graphite – Oriana Fenwick

Today: a very special traces of graphite post that has been in the making since April. I won’t introduce the artist – if you don’t recognise the name you will soon find out where you might have seen her work.

Bleistift Blog:

Thank you very much for agreeing to answer these questions. Could you please introduce yourself and your work and tell us where people might have seen your work?

Oriana Fenwick:

Hi there. My name is Oriana Fenwick, I am a freelance illustrator from Zimbabwe currently living and working in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. My illustrations are done to 99% using pencil, sometimes I go wild and create the other 1% with colour pencils. I have mainly worked for magazines and newspapers in the past. My clients include Die Zeit, football magazine 11 Freunde, Air Canada, DWELL and publishing house Rowohlt. One recent project I was particularly happy to be involved in was the book “The Pencil Perfect” for Gestalten Books.

Bleistift Blog:

How long does it take to draw an illustration of the size and complexity found in “The Pencil Perfect” and is there an illustration in this book that you are especially proud of?

Oriana Fenwick:

The time I need per illustration can vary immensely. The more simple drawings with straight forward lines and subtle contrasting I could complete in about two hours. The longest I needed for an illustration in this book was about two days. It gets especially tricky when I have to reproduce typo, taking into consideration all the other details that usually go along with that.

I think there are two drawings I had most fun completing in “The Pencil Perfect” and of which I especially liked the outcome. The one is of a series of pencil stubs and the other an image of Walt Disney drawing Mickey Mouse in his studio.

Walt Disney (image © Oriana Fenwick / Gestalten)

Bleistift Blog:

Are there specific techniques you use when drawing and are there any favourite tools / pencils you like to use?

Oriana Fenwick:

My drawing technique is pretty straightforward. I usually go about the main structure of the image using HB pencils, I never use anything harder than that. All of the shading and contrasting is then done afterwards using any grade as of 3B up to 6B. In order to get a surface to look especially smooth I criss-cross the lines until I can’t see the individual strokes anymore. My favourite brand is Faber-Castell1 – I seldom use anything else. And yes: I do rub out sometimes!

If I know that the original drawing is going to be used then I tend to spray the picture after completing it. When I do drawings for digital purposes then I make sure to put them in protective covers once I’ve finished drawing, scanning etc, so I don’t necessarily spray them in that case.

Bleistift Blog:

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions and for giving us a glimpse into the world of a famous illustrator.

Pencil Stubs (image © Oriana Fenwick / Gestalten)


I would like to thank Ms Fenwick for patiently answering my questions. You can find her web site at oriana-fenwick.com.

If you are interested in similar blog posts have a look at the Traces of graphite category.

As usual: please open the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution.

If you are interested in a comparison: Below you will find the photo that was used as a basis for one of the illustrations in the Pencil Perfect book. The photo of Walt Disney is used under the same conditions as the images in Duckipedia, as discussed with Egmon Ehapa.

Walt Disney (image © Disney)

  1. The Castell 9000 specifically. []

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.