Other companies at Insights X 2016 3

To finish my Insights X posts off: a quick look at who else was at Insights X.


Atoma was also present at Insights X 2016. I first wrote about them in 2012 and this blog post is to this day the most popular post on my blog.

Atoma at Insights X

When I asked if they have any new products they showed me their new diary system.

Atoma at Insights XAtoma at Insights X
Atoma at Insights XAtoma at Insights X

Please open in a new tab to see the images in high resolution. They come with holder for business cards etc.

Atoma at Insights X

Atoma at Insights X


Also at Insights X was Platinum.

Platinum at Insights X

The brought some of their posh fountain pens along, including some with Urushi lacquer.

Platinum at Insights X

Platinum at Insights X

When I asked about mechanical pencils they showed me their OLEeNU+ but weren’t able to give me more information (there clearly was a language barrier, even though they brought a staff who spoke English). The normal OLEeNU (not the plus version presented at the stand) uses the lead up to the last 0.5mm, similar to the Staedtler Integrity mentioned here and reviewed here. It also has a spring to help prevent lead breakage and a sliding ‘sleeve’. The staff from the Platinum counter told me that the OLEeNU+ doesn’t have a sliding sleeve, though.

Platinum at Insights X

Platinum at Insights X


Stabilo presented some new products at Insights X, too. In terms of non-pencil products I liked their pastel coloured pens – the pastel Boss markers looked really good (not sure how it looks on paper though).

The touch smart pencil

The touch smart pencil

In terms of pencils I found their touch smart pencil very innovative. Their ‘touch-screen function adapter’, the red item in the photo above, makes a normal pencil touch screen ready. You touch the screen with the pencil point, but through the clear plastic. It will then register on touch screens. I wonder whether it will work better than existing touch screen technologies, which often need a lot of force to work.

Stabilo at Insights XStabilo at Insights X


Other companies

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the Clairefontaine/Exacompta/Quo Vadis, Koh-I-Noor, KUM or any of the other companies. What a shame.




Stabilo LeftRight 8

The biggest stationery shop I know on Shanghai’s FuZhou road is in the building labelled “Shanghai culture commercial building”. Unlike the small, independent stationery shops found nearby this shop is state-owned – at least I think it is. In this shop different brands have their own different counters and staff and even though prices are a bit higher than in some surrounding shops prices are still reasonable compared to what you pay in shopping malls or in hip and funky stores which tend to charge you a packet just because they are so cool…

Shanghai culture commercial building

The Stabilo LeftRight

One of the things I bought in the Shanghai culture commercial building, on New Year’s Eve, was Stabilo’s LeftRight. Officially referred to as a retractable pencil this is a leadholder for 2mm leads.

I paid  ¥18 (~ £1.80; $2.90; €2.20) for this set which includes the leadholder, a very nice eraser, a lead sharpener – very nice, too, and a container with four 2mm leads, supposedly 2H. I wouldn’t call these 2H. For me they are definitely softer than H B. As we know there is no standard to say what is HB, what is 2B, etc.,  but even in Asia, where leads with the same grade are generally much softer than in the West, most manufacturers wouldn’t label the leads that come with the LeftRight as 2H. Back to the set: all items that come as part of the set are blue and triangular. There is also a pink set available and as far as I know both, the right-handed and the left-handed version, are available in both colours. The items from the set do look quite nice. In my eye, the worst looking of these items is actually the leadholder, just because it looks a bit plasticy.

The problem

The left-handed and right-handed version of this leadholder come with a “ergonomic triangular thumb pointer grip for correct gripping”. Unfortunately there is a problem with this pen: because of the indentations there is only one comfortable position for holding this pencil. That’s intended. The (probably) unintended consequence is that the 2mm lead will always be used on the same side and will get too wide too soon which means that it will need sharpening too often – at least when you use the LeftRight for writing Western text. The situation might be different if you draw or if you write Asian character and hold the leadholder vertically like a brush. Rotating the pencil, to compensate for the one-sided use, is not really comfortable and rotating the leadholder mechanism in the pencil is only possible of you remove the triangular cap.

The Stabilo LeftRight on a Seagull notebook



The original idea for this leadholder might have been good, but the execution is less than exciting. I would not be surprised if a ballpoint pen user came up with the ergonic grip series idea – which I guess works well on the LeftRight ballpoint pen. It is really a shame because all the items that come with the Pencil set look quite good together. You really want to use this pencil, but it has such an off-putting property… I use it… …nevertheless …at least for now. All in all still not a bad buy as value for money is excellent, at least if you get it for a good price. The LeftRight seems to be for sale in very few countries1. I am not sure whether Stabilo wants to start selling it in more countries or whether they have realised that something is not right therefore and don’t introduce the leadholder in more markets.

Presharpened vs. sharpener-sharpened


Price: December 2011

Exchange rates: February 2012

You can find information about the LeftRight on Stabilo’s Malaysia page.

There’s also a commercial for the LeftRight.


  1. including China, Malaysia and Russia []

Anniversaries 9

2011 is the year Faber-Castell celebrates its 250 year anniversary (1761 – 2011). Stephen from penciltalk told me about an anniversary set of 6 Castell 9000 pencils that was for sale on eBay. Faber-Castell gave these away at this year’s Paperworld trade fair. Unlike the centennial tins with 12 and 72 pencils, this tin does not contain the normal Castell 9000 pencils you can buy in shops, but Castell 9000 pencils with 1761 – 2011 * 250 years printed on them. They are not available in shops (yet), but according to comments on Faber-Castell’s facebook page Faber-Castell seems to consider producing them for sale. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Stabilo celebrates the 40th anniversary of their Boss Highlighters. As part of this anniversary there is a giveaway from Tiger Pens, where you can win Boss mugs, and a game from Stabilo where you can win Boss mugs, USB sticks and other prizes (there are different prizes for different countries).

Stephen Wiltshire, using a Staedtler tradition, on BBC's Top Gear (Image © BBC)

Staedtler‘s  historic pencil construction kit will unfortunately not be available in shops. The good news: you can order these kits directly from Staedtler for € 5 each. You can also get Staedtler’s historic Lumograph tin (100 M12H: € 16.20), the historic Tradition tin (Nr. 110 M12H: € 14.40) and the historic Noris tin (Nr. 120 M12H: €  9.60) directly from Staedtler. All of these special items are only available while stocks last. The historic pencil construction kit is not available yet, but can already be ordered.

Staedtler also managed to get the support of Stephen Wiltshire for their pigment liner. Lexikaliker mentioned him in his report about the Paperworld 2011 and I mentioned him previously in this blog post.

The photo of Stephen Wiltshire using a Staedtler Tradition has been taken from Top Gear Episode 5 of Series 14 and has been used previously in a blog post from March 2010 about the Staedtler tradition. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Stabilo EASYgraph offer 4

I don’t want to give the impression that I am a big fan of Tesco’s. When we go shopping we also buy from the other supermarkets (except maybe ASDA) …but I just have to mention this offer as it might be of interest for those of you in the UK (there might also be a similar offer in Ireland).

Tesco is currently selling the right handed version of the Stabilo EASYgraph double pack for 75p (~$1.17, 89c). The normal retail price is £2.70 (~$4.22, ~€3.23).

The EASYgraph is designed for schoolchildren who learn to write. It has a triangular shape, is over-sized and its specialty is its design which includes grip moulds that are supposed to support the fingers in gripping the pencil easily. As the pencil gets shorter through sharpening the next grip moulds can be used until the pencil is used up. There is a clear layer of paint above the wood visible in the moulds to protect the, from dirt. There is also a name tag at the end of the pencil which emphasises that this is a pencil for school children and the wood is PEFC certified.

Stabilo EASYgraph (front) and Lamy plus (back)

Altogether a very nice pencil, but it does feel a bit scratchy. After reading one of Sean’s recent articles I do however think that the sound this pencils makes might be responsible for the scratchy feeling.

As far as I know the EASYgraph pencils are produced in Český Krumlov in Bohemia.

The EASYgraph on a Cherry G80-3000LSC

Stabilo EASYgraph (front) and Lamy plus (back)

In case you wonder about the keyboard in the photo: This is my favourite keyboard. The G80-3000LSC (click tactile) from Wisconsin’s Cherry Corporation. How does it fit into this article? They are both ‘writing instruments’ and they are both made in the Czech Republic.


I would like to thank Lexikaliker for the Lamy plus pencil used in the photos.

Prices and exchange rates: September 2010

Stabilo’s move easyergo mechanical pencil offer 5

This post might be of interest if you live in the UK. Tesco does have a few Back to School offers at the moment, including Stabilo’s move easyergo mechanical pencil for only 87p (~$1.34, ~€1.05) ..but only for the right-handed version. The left-handed version is quite a bit more expensive (£3, ~$4.62, ~€3.64 ..does this count as left-handed discrimination?)

Dave has a review of Stabilo’s move easyergo mechanical pencil.

A link to other posts at Bleistift that involve Tesco.

Prices and exchange rates: August 2010