Billographe 5

My father was a joiner. When he used to make plans for customers he always used to label them with this stencil. I think this stencil is one of the earliest things I remember from his workshop. He used it until he retired, when he was in his seventies.

A few years ago I decided to take it with me to the UK. At that time it was still in perfect shape. I kept it in a plastic bag for a few years and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took it out of the bag recently. The stencil was completely deformed and the surface was very oily. I assume something from the plastic bag somehow interacted with the plastic form the stencil.

What a shame. I put some heavy books on, in the hope that it will help get the stencil at least a little bit back into shape, but I am not too confident that this will work.

The label reads BILLOGRAPHE №4 (bille fine) MINERVA FRANCE

It looks as if these are still being made, at least in some sizes, but they seem to be extremely difficult to get hold of outside France1.


  1. In Germany Standardgraph, which you might know because of their DUX sharpeners, is selling similarly coloured stencils – not only letters, also stencils to make plans of rooms, etc. []

IKEA’s pencil book

Caroline Weaver’s pencil book has been the big topic in the stationery fandom. As there’s nothing much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said publicly or privately here’s a look at another pencil book.

You might remember my blog post about Ikea’s huge pencil soft toy (or is it some kind of pillow?) from last year, or my blog post about another item from IKEA – to store Field Notes the Swedish way. Today’s blog post about IKEA again, specifically about a pencil themed children book they sell: Let’s Go Says The Pencil.

Part of a drawing from one of the book’s pages

This was in the IKEA store in Warrington1. They also have a pencil themed area for children to try out their products.

Oh, while you are here anyway, something not IKEA related: I noticed that CultPens is now selling the black Mars Technico 780C I showed in the Insights X blog post.

Staedtler Mars technico

If you want to see more IKEA related stationery blog posts have a look at the ones found at Lexikaliker (in German) or the ones from Pencil Revolution. The Pencil Case Blog even had a three part series about IKEA stationery.

  1. ..which was the first IKEA in the UK []

Resistance is futile 4

No, this blog post’s title is not a reference to the Start Trek VIII movie poster, but a comment on my stationery purchased. 

I’ve already spent nearly £50 on stationery in the last month. I think I should slow down a bit. Latest acquisitions, except the Paper book by Kurlanski and a book I just ordered after I got to know from it from Gunther, are pictured below. 

The leads are to extend a lead test I’m currently conducting. I’m also still waiting for the Lamy Petrol ink I ordered from Write Here. 

How can I resist. 

…a Pencil Must Be Lead

After yesterday’s blog post about Britain’s Northern Pen Show, here’s a blog post about Northern British1 pencil humour from yesteryear.

Since we’re going to talk about horses: some horse pencils

Pencil Humour in the 1930s

From the 1930 Laurel and Hardy movie Brats: You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be le(a)d.

Pencil Humour in the 2010s

British pencil humour these days is very different. If you want a taste you can watch episode six of the BBC’s Fleabag. I won’t repeat the pencil joke here as it involves a hamster and is rather explicit2.

Fleabag (image © Two Brothers Pictures / BBC)

Another quote from Fleabag then: People make mistakes. It’s why they put rubbers on the ends of pencils.

David Rees Pencil Humour

Since we are talking about pencils and humour anyway: You might have noticed the link to Lifehacker’s Expert Guide To Sharpening Pencils I put on Bleistift’s Facebook page.

The author knows that David Rees’s pencil sharpening is to some extent comedic but looks at all the claims from the point of view of a botanical illustrator – someone who works with graphite and coloured pencils.

The Three Horse Pencils photo is from a previous blog post.

The screenshot has been taken from Fleabag episode six. I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Stan Laurel grew up in the North of England and in Scotland. As this is his sentence I’m just going to attribute it to him. []
  2. The BBC’s warning for this episode reads ‘Contains strong language and some sexual content.’ []

The UK’s Northern Pen Show 10

The Dalmeny Hotel where the Northern Pen Show took place

Last week I’ve been to my first ever pen show. That took a while… I’ve been using fountain pens for more than 35 years and have been blogging about pens for seven years, but no pen show until now.

Kirit Dal, who I’ve mentioned more than once in this blog, told me about the Northern Pen Show in Lytham St. Annes, organised by UK Pen Shows – just 40 minutes drive from my home. Luckily things worked out so that it was possible to go there.

Fountain Pen Show Here Today

We had glorious weather, which gave the whole day a great atmosphere to start with and once we, i.e. the whole family, arrived at the pen show it got even better, as everyone was super friendly.

On the Pen Addict podcast I heard Brad and Myke take about the size of pen shows by mentioning the number of tables, with small ones having around 20 tables and big ones 250 tables. Well, this one was one of the smaller pen shows with about 30 tables.

The focus of this pen show seems to have been vintage fountain pens, and from what I’ve heard and read this seems to be the norm. There were however also new pens and other stationery items, like ink, notebooks etc, available.

I brought my Nock Co. Hightower Pen Case and a few fountain pens

I thought I bring some fountain pens along, just in case there is some nib grinding going on. The most expensive pen I own for example has an F nib, but writes wider than most M nibs, but unfortunately there were no nib meisters around.

Kirit Dal

Kirit Dal

After I got a plan of the pen show I was trying to find Kirit Dal, who told me about this show in the first place. He wasn’t listed, so I thought he’s not there ..but later I noticed a suspiciously large amount of Robert Oster inks on one of the tables – and it turned out that the Oster inks belonged to the man I had been looking for!


John Hall (Write Here)

John Hall (Write Here)

I also met John Hall again. I first met him in 2014 when I found his shop Write Here while spending a weekend in Shropshire.


David Round (William Hannah)

David Round (William Hannah) sorry for the blurred photo

A while ago Scribble sent me some William Hannah paper. I certainly remember the paper – discovering the printer steganography on the paper came as a surprise to me. Well, I also came across David Round, the founder of William Hannah. He told me where the name of his company is from (his children’s name) and explained where all the different parts of his notebook are made. I thought it’s impolite if I start writing things down, but now I don’t remember 100% which part came from where, so I better don’t mention these details at all. Unfortunately the photo of him is not so clear – well my digital camera is nearly ten years old and I should have taken more than one photo, but unless you click on the image to see the large version it might look acceptable.

You can see the hotel from the pier (on the right)

The weather was so nice, after visiting the pen show we went to St. Annes’ pier, which was just outside. You can see the hotel from there (just on the right).


We had a great day out!