By Type


America Standards 6

Earlier this year, in Spring, I imported some pencils from the USA.

It won’t come as a surprise that they are painted in yellow/orange and that they are eraser-tipped.

The whole look of these pencils, including the name, America Standards, and the way they are printed makes them look like a ‘big pencil’ that you’d imagine to be available and sold all over the USA…
…but as far as I can tell the company behind the America Standards pencil is a small-ish company that registered a few trademarks and uses them to resells goods made by other manufacturers.

In the case of the America Standards pencils there is a big emphasis on the fact that they are made in Tennessee. I assume they are made by Musgrave, but they might, of course, also be made by Wagner or Moon Products.

I ordered the pack of 24 in a wooden pencil box, which doesn’t currently seem available, but you can still get the pack of 100. Previously there has also been the America Standards Mammoth pencil with a jumbo grip.

Importing into the UK always attracts customs and import duties, but the pencils are beautiful and the wooden case seem really special, so the extra I had to pay seems well worth it.


CultPencil 4

My last CultPens order came with a special freebie that’s just to my taste: a ‘CultPencil’ – no they don’t call it CultPencil, I made that name up.

Smile clip (green) and CultPencil (blue yellow)

In recent years CultPens’ freebie has usually been a smile clip (10+ years ago goodies were often pens from Stabilo, Schneider and others), but for now and only while stocks last (and I believe stocks are very limited) CultPens is throwing this pencil in with every order.

I’ll show you the nice goods that led me to receive this surprise freebie another time. Today I just want to let you have a look at this beautiful pencil.

Despite looking very similar to an Impega / Lyreco pencil [1]The Lyreco HB pencil is the only wood cased pencil in my employers stationery cabinet, so I come across it regularly it is actually from from Staedtler’s promotional range.

At the end of the pencil one side spots the CultPens logo while the other side is labelled ‘This is a pencil’.

It is a nice writer, but it is still a promotional pencil, so don’t expect to see quite the same smooth writing experience as with a Mars Lumograph.

Staedtler is of course no stranger to the world of promotional pencils. I have a huge collection of their promotional pencils. Below is the CultPencil (top) with a small selection of promotional pencils (below the CultPencil) made by Staedtler in their British factory in Pontyclun. Notice how the Granada Studios Tour, a film studio tour in Manchester, is labelled for left-handers [2]which reminds me of Staedtler’s more recent left-handed stationery..


You can find out more about Pontyclun and Staedtler UK’s history in this 2011 blog post.

Thank you very much to Michael from CultPens for providing me with more information about the CultPencil.

References

References
1The Lyreco HB pencil is the only wood cased pencil in my employers stationery cabinet, so I come across it regularly
2which reminds me of Staedtler’s more recent left-handed stationery.

M 2

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 with the Universalpatrone – good use of the available space

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 [1]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 Lamy end of the Universalpatrone

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.

The standard/Pelikan end of the Universalpatrone

Proper reviews of the Montblanc M:

Pencilcase Blog

Gentleman Stationer

UK Fountain Pens

Gourmet Pens

References

References
1Pelikan has a big share of the market for school fountain pens.

Faber-Castell Grip 2011 1

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.

Now with a cool hologram sticker

Properties

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.

The Grip 2011 is pretty light

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.

Mechanism

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.

Lead capacity

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.

Conclusion

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.

If you want to find out about the fountain pen version have a look at the Well-Appointed Desk’s review.