In case you were wondering about this year’s Pen of the Year from Graf von Faber-Castell: The pen itself has case-hardened metal parts and 24-carat gold inlays, while the barrel is made of Caucasian walnut wood and has a hand-carved fish scales pattern.
In October 2009 Pen and Co interviewed the Managing Director Premium at Faber-Castell. The post includes a paragraph on the history of the Pen of the Year and information about the Pen of the Year 2009.
According to an article from LZ-NET more than 10% of Faber-Castell’s turnover is generated by their premium products. Faber-Castell is manufacturing the Porsche Design pens as well, but only until the end of 2010. From 2011 Pelikan will be manufacturing the Porsche Design pens.
I bought this inexpensive wooden ruler from Ashton Print in Preston, Lancashire for 69p (1.08 US$, € 0.79). Since then I found that some online-shops sell it even cheaper. The ruler itself is 12″ / 30cm long and made in Australia by Stephens The shop had a few Stephens rulers for sale. They were in a cardboard stand marked “Made in Australia. Carded in England.. This would be the perfect spot in this post to tell you a bit more about Stephens, but unfortunately I was not able to find any useful information about who they are or what products they offer, so let’s skip this part and go straight to the ruler.
With about 12g the wood is quite light. So light in fact, that it feels fragile. It has less than half the weight of the wooden rulers I have used previously. Looking at the wood grain and taking the mass into account (12g for about 25 cm3 = 480 kg / m3) I would say the ruler is made from Aspen wood, but this is only a guess.
The ruler has centimetres and millimetres printed on one side and inches printed on the other side. The four corners of the inch side are further divided into eighths and sixteenths on the right and tenths and twelfths on the left. Additonally the middle of the inch side has 30°, 45°, 60°, 72° and 90° angles printed on them. This is obviously not a replacement for a set square, but a nice addition that could be of use. The printing on the ruler must have been created using some kind of stamping mechanism and is a bit irregular, which gives this ruler an “old-fashioned” touch.
The wood is untreated, which means that nearly all pens or pencils you will use with this ruler could leave a mark on the side. Using such a soft wood has also another potential for problems. If there is a dent you will not be able any more to draw a perfectly straight line. Some wooden rulers have a metal bar on the side to guarantee a straight line, but the Stephens does not and I would not have expected this from a fairly inexpensive ruler either. There is not really much more to say about this ruler, but I am sure I will enjoy using my Australian ruler.
The American Discover magazine published a list of 20 things you didn’t know about pencils in 2007. You might have seen this list before ..or you might have known most of the facts already, but it is certainly nice to see pencils mentioned in a science magazine.
Last time I went to my local pen shop, Platts of Preston, I noticed that they started selling pens from ONLINE, a German pen manufacturer. Unfortunately the shop sold only ballpoint pens from ONLINE and the owner told me that he cannot get ONLINE’s mechanical pencils and fountain pens. These ballpoint pens made me aware of ONLINE’s (relatively) new Top.Line range, which was introduced in 2006.
ONLINE is a fairly new manufacturer of pens, established in 1991 and focussing on “design-oriented writing instruments for students”. Even though the headquarters are in Neumarkt, in the Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria, it is next to Franconia (previously mentioned in the Eisen 402 post), only about 30 miles southeast of the headquarters of Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Schwan-STABILO and Lyra. In my opinion ONLINE is not a very good name for any kind of company as it creates confusion and makes searching for information difficult, but I can also see the pun (“on line”), related to pens if that was intended, and I can see that in the early Nineties the word “online” might have sounded extremely modern, representing a modern image for the targeted potential customers: students.
Last time I bought pens from ONLINE was in the Nineties. I liked the concept of the pens I bought back then: Rollerballs that can be refilled with standard ink cartridges, but after a few days of use the paint of some of the plastic parts started to wear off. A few years later I left Germany and went to the UK and in nearly ten years I have never seen ONLINE pens in any shop in the UK. The UK is not listed on ONLINE’s retailer web page, so I assume ONLINE pens are still not officially available here, but are imported by a distributor (who seems to import ballpoint pens from the Top.Line range only). There are about 20 countries, including the USA, where pens from ONLINE seem to be available. As mechanical pencils from ONLINE are not available in the UK I asked my mother to buy me one and send it. It was bought from Schreibwarengeschäft Buntstift in Volkach, Germany and is the All Wood Marone mechanical pencil from the Business Line range, which is part of the Top.Line Collection 2009.
Every year ONLINE seems to launch a new Top.Line collection and Young.Line collection. The pens from the Young.Line collection are made in Germany. I did contact ONLINE to find out where the pens from the Top.Line collection are manufactured, but unfortunately I did not receive a reply.
The mechanical pencil is triangular-shaped and looks fantastic. The wood is matt and feels quite smooth. According to ONLINE’s web site it is Wawa wood. Coles of London write on their web site that this wood is
“cultivated on plantations on the Ivory Coast. The wood is processed in Italy; the first-class treatment prevents the wood from ripping due to dry air or swelling because of high humidity. One cubic meter of crude Wawa wood costs 700 €.”
Both, the Marone and the Nero version of the All Wood ballpen and mechanical pencil seem to be made using Wawa wood. I paid just under € 30 (42 US$, 26 GBP) for the Marone version of the mechanical pencil. It takes 0.9mm leads and the propelling mechanism is twist-based: turning the head of the pencil 120° will unlock the lead and advance it. Turning the head back will lock the lead again, so that you can write. Unlike most ratchet-based penils the All Wood there is no button that can be removed, which means that there is no eraser and if you want to refill the All Wood you have to twist the head and insert the leads through the conical sleeve. The clip is spring loaded, similar to the clip of the Lamy 2000 (reviewed at Dave’s Mechanical Pencils). The head of the All Wood is a bit wobbly, in its locked state more so than in the unlocked state. Even though I find this a bit annoying this does actually not make a difference when you are writing, as your fingers are holding the pencil’s head.
Altogether a fantastic looking pen. Personally I prefer ratchet-based pencils or at least pencils with some form of built-in eraser, but the Wawa wood looks so good that it compensates for all the shortcomings (wobbly, no eraser) of this pencil.