Mechanical pencils


Stationery Factlets #6: Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of mechanical pencil leads 3

Time for another stationery factlet: Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of mechanical pencil leads.

Staedtler made lead holders and leads for the lead holders for a long time. Below is a page from their 1935 catalogue.

Staedtler Catalogue 1935

Staedtler Catalogue 1935

When thinner lead diameters were introduced Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of these thinner leads – the kind of leads I would refer to as mechanical pencil leads.

Staedtler’s catalogues from the 1960s don’t seem to show pictures of these leads, but the catalogue from 1970 does – and it shows a very familiar lead container.

Staedtler Catalogue 1970

Staedtler Catalogue 1970

Staedtler Catalogue 1970

Staedtler Catalogue 1970

The Mars lead container still has the same shape today, but the plastic is now transparent. The opening of this lead container has the perfect diameter for refilling Mars micro mechanical pencils as you can see in the old video from my 2015 neox blog post.


I would like to thank Eberhard Rüdel for his detective work regarding my mechanical lead questions.


The TWSBI Precision Mechanical Pencil in 0.5 mm (and a Quick Look at the Fountain Pen, too) 9

As part of my search for the perfect sliding sleeve pencil, I nearly bought a TWSBI Precision in 2015. I say nearly because after talking to Philip Wang1 I found out that the sleeve is not designed to slide back while you are writing – so I didn’t go ahead with the purchase.

TWSBI Precision – mechanical pencil and fountain pen

 

This Summer, three years later, I had a chance to try out Scribble‘s Precision. He lent his Precision mechanical pencil and fountain pen to a few bloggers for an upcoming United Inkdom meta-review.

TWSBI Precision fountain pen

The Brand

I’ll skip introducing TWSBI here, as by now there is quite a good article about TWSBI on Stationery.wiki. I assume it’s only a matter of time before someone will copy this article into Wikipedia, thanks to Stationery.wiki’s Creative Commons license. Wikipedia has deleted stationery articles in the past, with the argument that the brands, products or people or not ‘notable’ enough, but maybe TWSBI is big enough by now. If not then there is always Stationery.wiki, which is better suited to geek out about stationery.

The Fountain Pen

Let’s talk about the fountain pen first.2 Both are called ‘Precision. Seeing the mechanical pencil and fountain pen together I get that there is a resemblance between both (hexagonal body, round grip section, Caran d’Ache style clip), but it is not very strong (certainly not as strong as with Rotring pens of the same series) and in my opinion they could be part of a different series and didn’t need to have the same name. That said, Precision is a nice name which does represent TWSBI’s expertise.

I have quite a few piston fillers, but I think none of the others has such a small ink window. When filling the pen I couldn’t really see the piston. Somehow the whole mechanism feels very much buried deep in the pen and I didn’t get an intuitive feeling how much ink capacity there is or how much ink there might be left in the pen.

Similar texture (top to bottom: Lamy 2000, Staedtler Pigment Liner, TWSBI Precision)

On a positive note, I did like the surface of the pen very much. It reminds me of the surface of the Lamy 2000 or Staedtler’s Pigment Liner.

Texture Staedtler Pigm. Liner

Texture Lamy 2000

The Precision’s texture

Of all the TWSBI fountain pens I have used or that I own this one is my least favourite. It is a nice pen, but the design just doesn’t work for me. If you like the look of this pen then it might be the right one for you though. As is common with TWSBI you get good quality and a few extras for your money.

The Mechanical Pencil

When I first got the Precision mechanical pencil I didn’t like the look very much. That was then. Over time it really grew on me. By the time I had to send it back to Scribble I was very keen on the looks and on the pencil as a whole. If it wasn’t for the issues I will mention later I would probably order my own TWSBI Precision now.

Similar Pencils

How does this pencil compare to others on the market? To me, it’s similar to a Rotring with some Caran d’Ache mixed in. In my video about this pencil, you’ll see that the clip of the Precision is so similar to a Caran d’Ache that it’s virtually impossible for this similarity to be a coincidence (Jump to 1:05 in the video to see the different clips side by side).

Variations

Some shops referred to a version 1 and version 2 of this pencil. I was not able to find out what version 1 was. It might be a reference to the TWSBI Precision X, I am not sure.

It looks as if the Precision X didn’t make it past the prototype stage. It is somehow similar to the Rotring Rapid, which has been discontinued (not to be confused with the Rapid Pro), but is still available online as new old stock.

Colour-wise current Precision was available in silver and black, but in 2018 only the silver version is available. This has also been confirmed by TWSBI’s Philip Wang.

Tip-wise there is a retractable and a fixed version and diameter-wise there is an 0.5 mm and an 0.7 mm version.

Vitals

As a metal pencil, the Precision is of course on the heavy side. It weighs 25 g. The knurled grip is quite nice, at least in my opinion. the knurling is not as fine as on a Rotring which means little bits of dust and dirt don’t stick as much to the grip section.

Eraser

Most mechanical pencils have quite short erasers. There are of course exceptions to this rule, like the Faber-Castell Executive, the Vario L or some of their Grip pencils. Well, you can add the Precision to this list of exceptions. The Precision pencil even comes with replacement erasers.

My issues with the Precision

Let’s get to the point where I discuss my issues with this pencil. I am still not sure whether my two issues do occur with all Precisions or whether it’s just something the one Precision I had on loan suffered from.

..but fear not! Dave of Dave’s Mechanical Pencils fame said he will have a look at his pencil, so with some luck, you can expect an update here or on his blog. There is also a planned meta-review of the Precision on United Inkdom and I am hoping one of the other reviewers will pick up in the following two points.

a) I had a lot of lead breakage with this pen. Lead breakage that occurred within the Precision that is, i.e. I want to advance the lead, but notice it is broken. This could be down to the fact the lead that was in the pencil when I got it was very soft. It could also have happened during transport, i.e. the lead was already damaged. It could also be linked to my next point.

b) I haven’t used another pencil with that much lead advance. More than 2 mm per click. Compared to other pencils I reviewed as part of my Pencil Videos series it is off the charts (not literally as I can just change the y axis 😜 and it is not off the charts anymore) – have a look.

Comparison lead advance per 10 clicks in mm (rounded to the nearest 0.5 mm)

When I contacted TWSBI’s Philip Wang I didn’t get a clear answer how many mm the lead should advance per click (the answer was basically “that’s a very strange thing to ask”), so I hope Dave will be able to tell me more. Ian reviewed the exact pencil I had in my hands and he reported that the lead advances 1.5 mm per click. My measurement was nearly 50% bigger. Maybe there is something wrong with this specific pencil and the advance shouldn’t be that much?

Update:

Less from the Comfortable Shoes Studio and the RSVP podcast owns the retractable 0.7 mm version. I contacted her and she reports that her pencil gives 1.5 mm of lead at the first click, the next 0.5 mm, then 1 mm and after that it’s always 1 mm or 0.5 mm.

Dave from Dave’s Mechanical Pencils left a comment under this blog post reporting that he also has the retractable 0.7 m version, like Less. He reports that ’10 clicks advance 7.5mm of lead, and I think they are all even, so that’s 0.75mm per click, a relatively normal amount’.

I assume Dave’s Precision works as intended, Less and the one I borrowed from Scribble don’t. I am not sure whether this indicates that the Precision is more prone to ‘lead advance issues’ as we don’t know whether Less’s and Scribble’s pencils weren’t ‘mistreated’, e.g. by the postal service.

Why is the increased lead advance an issue? The more the lead is extended, the more likely it will break (breaking outside the pencil, as opposed to inside the pencil). More nominal (and also axial) pen force (explained in this old blog post) or a more acute your writing angle will make your lead more likely to break. If you hold your pen vertically it could of course also break because of the pen force.

A discussion about a potential link between lead advance and sliding sleeve can be found in the comments to this blog post.

Overall

Overall this is a great pencil. I like the long eraser, I (now) like the looks, I just wish the lead advance would be more in line with other pencils out there.


I would like to thank Scribble for lending me his Precision pens.

If you liked this blog post you might like these other reviews of the Precision mechanical pencil:

 

  1. I was surprised that the boss himself replied when I asked a question on their website. []
  2. I want it out of the way so that we can focus on the mechanical pencil😜 []

Mechanical Pencil Day Winners 1

Bleistift’s giveaway for the first ever Mechanical Pencil Day is over. Thanks again to Cult Pens for the pencils used in the giveaway.

A video of the prize draw has been uploaded yesterday. Here it is in case you want to watch it.

The comments left by both winners indicate that both would have liked to receive the Monami.

In the previous post there were links for each one of the four pencils. Even though the Monami was wanted by both winners it wasn’t the pencil most blog visitors clicked on.  Measured by link clicks here is the order of ‘pencils of interest’: #1: Messograf, followed by the Cult Pencil, then the Monami and finally the Rotring 500.

The prizes: Monami 153 and Cult Pencil

Cristian from the USA, our first winner, will get the Monami 153. Elijah from Australia, our second winner, asked for the Cult Pencil. The pencils will be sent out soon.

That means the Messograf and the Rotring will become the prizes in Stationery.wiki’s Mechanical Pencil Day Contest. If our judges come up with different favourites to win the contest there might be up to two additional prizes. I will add my OHTO Conception to the pencil prize pot.

Prizes for Stationery.wiki’s Mechanical Pencil Day Contest

So far we have two participants competing for prizes (plus one participant who takes part without competing for the prizes). With up to four pencils available as prizes taking part seems like an easy way to win a mechanical pencil. If you are interested, please visit Stationery.wiki’s Mechanical Pencil Day Contest page.

Stationery Wiki Mechanical Pencil Day Contest Participants


Mechanical Pencil Day is here! 146

It’s time to celebrate! The first ever Mechanical Pencil Day is here.

Why Today?

With the two most popular lead diameters being 0.5mm and 0.7mm the day was set to 05/07 (in the format used in UK, France, Italy, Spain, ..) that’s 07/05 (in the format used in USA, China, maybe Canada) or 5.7. (in the format used in Germany and other Central and Northern European countries).1

To celebrate this special day there are, of course, prizes to be won.

Everyone’s Celebrating

CultPens was kind enough to supply more than £50 worth of prizes. They also agreed that I can split these between Bleistift.blog and Stationery.wiki. As part of their Mechanical Pencil Day celebrations they published a blog post from me on their blog yesterday (The picture are not form me, though). Other blogs give out prizes, too. I can’t list all the blogs that offer prizes, as I am not sure who exactly is taking part (this blog post was written before 5 July) but I know that Dave from Dave’s Mechanical Pencils has some fine pencils he’ll hand out. He’s the one who made me aware of Mechanical Pencil Day in the first place. Have a look at his blog for even more chances of winning fine writing gear than if you only take part in my giveaway.

How to Win

OK, here’s what’s on offer and how to win Bleistift’s giveaway prizes. By the way, I won’t force you to follow my YouTube, Facebook or Twitter account to take part in the draw for this giveaway. We’re all adults here and you should decide yourself who you want to follow. Instead of following my social media channels, all you have to do for a chance to win is to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post.

Mechanical Pencil Day Prizes

..and here are the prizes. From left to right we have:

How will the winner be decided?

  1. I will use a random number generator to get a random number n. I will then check who wrote the nth comment.
  2. I will then check whether the nth comment is the first comment by a blog reader on this giveaway post. If it is the first comment by a blog reader on this post this reader will get the pencil of their choice. If the comment was written by myself or it was not the first comment I will go back to step one.
    This ensures that I won’t win a prize myself. It also means that you can comment as often as you want, but only one of your comments (the first one) will count for the prize draw.
  3. I will then repeat the first two steps until we have a winner for the second pencil. The second winner can choose from the remaining three pencils.
  4. Deadline is 11 July 2018 at 12:00 (noon) Zulu time (UTC), that’s 5:00 PDT2, 8:00 EDT3, 13:00 BST4, 14:00 CEST5, 20:00 CST6, 21:00 KST/JST7.8
  5. I will contact you if you’ve won, but if I don’t hear back from you within a week the pencils might be given to someone else or used in another giveaway or contest.
  6. The two remaining pencils will be the prizes for the Stationery.wiki contest. You can, of course, take part in both, the Bleistift giveaway and the Stationery.wiki contest. In fact, I encourage you to.

Who can take part?

CultPens sent the pencils to me. I will send them to the winners using Royal Mail. They will usually send items to more or less all countries, but if you live on the ISS or in a research station in Antarctica and are not sure whether they deliver to you you can check on their Country Guide page.

I will send the pen using the cheapest method (this is a free blog after all, with no income from advertising). I think within the UK this is covered up to £20. Internationally the cover might be even higher. If you need the pen sent in a specific way let me know and I will see whether I can accomodate.

Good Luck.

  1. I guess my personal mechanical pencil day should be 02/03 then 😛 []
  2. Tango []
  3. Quebec []
  4. Alfa []
  5. Bravo []
  6. Hotel []
  7. India []
  8. All these time zones remind me of the 1980s and early 1990s when MTV Europe was still free to watch. In Europe, you’re not really used to different time zones, but with MTV Europe being a pan-European TV station programmes were announced in different time zones. []

More about Staedtler’s 925 15 2

Today: a closer look at Staetdler’s handsome 925 15 mechanical pencil. You might remember it from a previous blog post from 2017.

It’s quite affordable and surprisingly light, maybe even too light for some users’ liking. In this video we’ll have a closer look at the 925 15.


Open in YouTube to watch in high resolution.

I bought the 0.3 mm version, so the video is about only covering this version, but this pencil is also available in 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm.

All parts of the pencil have been designed beautifully.

The official price is ¥500 (~$4.40; £3.30; €3.75), but by the time you add shipping from Japan (when you buy from eBay) the price is a bit higher – still not expensive though.


Price and exchange rates: December 2017