I recently received the Faber-Castell sharpener-eraser pen 18 44 01 as part of the Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Office Set. It is a container sharpener with a built-in eraser.
The eraser is a twist out style eraser, similar to the one found in the Staedtler 771 – reviewed at Dave’s Mechanical Pencils. Both, the Faber-Castell and the Staedtler eraser, have a 7mm Diameter, but the eraser in the 18 44 01 is about 3 cm long, while the eraser in the Staedtler 771 is about 4 cm long. You could of course fit the longer eraser in the 18 44 01, but until the first centimetre has been used up it wouldn’t be possible to retract the eraser completely. Performance-wise The 18 44 01 is ok, but it’s not a fantastic eraser. It is a bit harder than the eraser in the Staedtler 771 and does its job, but when erasing soft pencil degrees it leaves more traces of graphite than the 771 eraser …unless you use the eraser a bit longer.
The sharpener works very well. Compared to other sharpeners it feels as if you need to use less force when sharpening pencils, probably because the blade is very sharp. If you turn the case of the sharpener anti-clockwise you can close hole to the sharpener ..very useful as bits of graphite and tiny bits of wood cannot get out of the container anymore and it is then safe to transport the sharpener-eraser pen or put it in a zip-up case. A lead sharpened with the 18 44 01 cannot compete with one sharpened by the top products in this area, but the results are very good, certainly above average. It is best to only remove the case (to empty the container) above a bin or to remember how to hold the 18 44 01 so that the sharpener is at the bottom, otherwise shavings and graphite will fall out.
A great idea, but with about 9 cm length and 2 cm diameter the sharpener-eraser pen is on the chunky side and a bit too big to be my everyday companion. I will however happily keep it in a case and use it when the case is open anyway. The 18 44 01 is Made in China and available in red and blue. I got this pen as part of the Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Office Set, so I am not sure how much it is in the UK (I could not find a price online). On the continent the 18 44 01 seems to cost about € 2.00. As far as I know replacement blades are not available.
Like the Nataraj 621, reviewed at pencil talk, the Reynolds432 is a pencil from India with a design very similar to the Staedtler tradition. The differences in appearance are minor.
All three pencils are red with dark coloured stripes. While the Staedtler tradition and the Nataraj 621 have black stripes, the Reynolds 432 has blue stripes.
All three pencils are hexagonal, but the Staedtler tradition and the Reynolds 432 have the stripes on the edges, the Nataraj has the stripes on the faces.
All three are eraserless with different finished caps. The quality of the finished cap of the Nataraj is rather poor.
The history of Reynolds is a bit complicated.
Milton Reynolds from Chicago established the Reynolds pen company in 1945, but the company was later bought by Edmond Regnault who was running a successful pen company in France since 1927. Since 1974 the company was run by Edmond Regnault’s sons until it was sold to investors in 1993.
The company behind the Reynolds 432 pencil, G. M. Pens International Pvt. Ltd., introduced the Reynolds brand to India in 1986 and is the exclusive Licensee of Reynolds, France. Newell Rubbermaid bought Reynolds in 1999/2000, which is now part of Sanford Reynolds SA, and closed the factory in France in 2007, sparking a boycott of products from Reynolds and Newell Rubbermaid.
Today Reynolds India produces all kinds of pens, including two different types of wooden pencils and two different types of mechanical pencils.
Reynold’s website highlights the following features of this pencil, available only in HB
Specially bonded lead for extra strength
Special quality lead for clean, fine impressions
Conforms to European standards of child safety
Soft wood for easy sharpening
The fact that there are paws printed on the 432 and the child safety standards mentioned on the web site seem to suggest that this pencil is aimed at children, but the “conservative look” of the pencil would suggest otherwise.
The wood used for the Reynolds 432 seems to be the similar to the wood used for the Nataraj 621. In a comment to the Nataraj 621 review at pencil talk Harshad Raveshia identified the wood used for the 621 as Vatta wood (Macaranga Peltata). The wood used for the 432 has a similar appearance, but is not red. Instead I would describe the colour as slightly yellow. It could of course still be the Vatta tree, just coloured differently, or it could be a normal deviation expected for this type of wood.
A few other observations:
The diameter of the Reynolds 432 is a bit bigger than that of a Staedtler tradition.
The lead of the Reynolds 432 seems to be slightly harder than that of the Nataraj 621.
I did not have any lead breakage with the Reynolds 432, but I did encounter this problem with the Nataraj 621.
The hardness of the 432 HB’s lead can be roughly compared to the hardness of a Mars Lumograph 2B or a Faber-Castell 9000 3B.
The wood is a bit harder than the wood typically used for pencils in Europe. This might have implications for the blade of your sharpener, but other attributes of the wood, like the texture and appearance are very pleasant. Writing with the Reynolds 432 is fairly smooth and overall this is a very nice pencil.
I would like to thank Sameer Khanna who agreed to swap the Reynolds 432 and the Nataraj 621 for two Staedtler Noris pencils.
The stationery cupboard, where my colleagues and I get our stationery supplies from, did have pencil sharpeners in the past. I am not sure why there are none left, but I assume it is because most colleagues, especially most support staff, use Paper Mate Non-Stop pencils.
Paper Mate Non-Stop:
The Non-Stop is basically a SharpWriter with tip and eraser in black for the European market, or possibly for all markets outside North America. First released in 1984 the SharpWriter / Non-Stop is a disposable mechanical pencil, made in USA. You can even refill it, if you want. Unlike some other disposable mechanical pencils it is possible to refill leads when you remove the eraser. To advance the lead you twist the tip and – very positive for a cheap pencil – the lead is cushioned which should be good news for users who use more pressure when writing than I do.
But back to the pencil sharpeners… They were all the same type, had a cylinder shaped plastic container and were available in many colours. At the bottom of the plastic container you could see the wording “Made in Germany”. Some of the sharpeners had plain blades without any writing on them, some I assume the older ones had “Made in Germany” and a lower case e with a crown on top written on the blade. After looking at different manufacturers’ web sites I found that this sharpener is Model 402 from Eisenpronounced like iron with an s sound between the two syllables, a company manufacturing pencil sharpeners since 1921. Like nearly all other German manufacturers in the pencil and sharpener industry (e.g. Faber-Castell, Staedtler, Schwan Stabilo, Lyra, KUM or Möbius+Ruppert) Eisen is from Franconia, an area slightly smaller than Massachusetts. Other information and figures I found about Eisen is sometimes contradicting, but apparently they have 60 employees in their Franconian factory and produce 200 million steel blades annually. In 2003 Eisen established its own factory in Taicang Taicang is very popluar with companies from America, Europe, Taiwan and Japan. About 100 German SMEs settled there. near Shanghai, and production of the cheaper sharpeners was moved there while the production of more expensive sharpeners for cosmetic pencils is still taking place in the original factory in Baiersdorf. The factory in Baiersdorf is managed by Christian Eisen and the factory in Taicang by Stephan Eisen, both descendants of Christian Eisen, the founder of Eisen Metallwarenfabrik. Altogether, there are 150 employees in both factories, producing 60 – 80 million sharpeners annually.
Lyra, recently acquired by the FILA group, just started distributing Eisen sharpeners in the German-speaking countries, but I am not sure about the distribution of Eisen sharpeners in the rest of the world. They were available in the UK, probably through Impega Impega became Lyreco in 2009, a supplier of stationery for companies.
What is so special about the Model 402, you might ask. The answer is that it is a fantastic sharpener, somewhere between a traditional sharpener and a long point . Sharpening with the Eisen 402 produces a point as smooth as one produced by Möbius+Ruppert’s grenade or by KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M. Even sharpening “difficult” pencils, like the Dong-A Fable, is no problem with the 402. When I tried to sharpen the Fable with a hardly used KUM 400-5L the lead broke every single time, with the Eisen 402 I managed to produce a great point first time trying, even though I have been using it irregularly for years and with the same blade.
I noticed that my yellow 402, which has an unmarked blade, is not as smooth as the blue one, which has the Eisen logo and Made in Germany written on the blade. It could be that the unmarked blades are worse, but the yellow 402 was in my office and saw much more use than its blue colleague, so I blame the slightly worse performance of the unmarked blade on the fact that the marked blade had not been used so often.
The Eisen 402 is certainly a great sharpener. It outperforms my KUM Streamline Chrome Canister Sharpener 460S and my KUM Long Point 400-5L. The only shame is that it seems to be difficult to get hold of an Eisen 402.
I would like to thank Kent for the Dong-A Fable pencils used in the comparison of different sharpeners. Kent explained me that Dong-A is one of the oldest pencil manufacturers in Korea and that Fable is a relatively new model from Dong-A.
There is a video, produced for local TV stations, with more information about Eisen at Wirtschaftstreff Bayern. Unfortunately it is only available in German and the exact link is changing every month. The video with information about Eisen is from 23 October 2009.
Pencil pots, pencil stands, whatever you call them, you will find them on most desks. These days most pencil stand are made from plastic, but you can also find some made from wood, glass, metal, ceramic or other materials. Unfortunately the big manufacturers of pens and pencils do not offer many pencil stands in their catalogues, resulting in a situation where there are many cheap pencil stands available from supermarkets, office supply stores and other retailers, but only few mid-priced ones (e.g. from Faber-Castell) and expensive ones (e.g. from El Casco).
In this post I will look at two plastic pencil stands. One is the Two-part Design pencil stand from Faber-Castell, the other one is the Pencil pot from Tesco.
Let’s start with the pencil stand from Faber-Castell and some numbers. I bought mine from Cult Pens for £ 14.95 (~ € 16.60), but you can get the same pencil stand from blah! for under £ 11 (~ under € 12) and on the Continent you can get it for under € 11 (~ under £ 10). I could not find a shop selling the pencil stand in the USA, so I am not sure how much it is in the States.
The pencil stand is black, made of plastic and produced in China. When both halves are closed it is a black cuboid, when you separate both halves you have two identical pencil stand with a wave profile. The outside is matt, while the plastic of the wavy surface is glossy. It looks really nice on the desk, but when it is closed it is a bit too high on most desks. Another problem is that you can see dust quite easily on the surface. Altogether a great pencil stand, with a modern look that will fit on most desks. Compared to other pencil stands it is maybe a bit expensive. The same money could have bought you a pencil stand from SUCK UK: very different, but probably one that friends of stationery might prefer.
Tesco, a UK supermarket chain, is selling a pencil pot that is also made in China. It is available in black and white. The label suggests that is is sold in the UK, Ireland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Turkey. In the UK the pencil pot sells for £ 1 (~ € 1.10). The shape is simple, but nice and because the plastic is fairly thick the pot looks quite good in my opinion. The material even looks a bit like bakelite, which is why I bought this pencil pot in the first place.
Both are great pencil stands. The one from Tesco is very good value for £ 1 and especially the black one looks really good and has a charming simplicity. The stand from Faber-Castell is also very nice, maybe a bit expensive, but you actually get two solidly built pencil stands for your money (with more than 350 grams each). If you are a big fan of stationery you might however want to spend your £ 15 on the pencil stand from SUCK UK instead.
One of the products of the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 series is the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 Eraser Cap. As far as I know it is available in grey, red, and blue …but I have to admit that I have never seen the blue one in real life. Shops in the UK usually only stock the grey version. The red one (and probably the blue one as well) is however available as part of the Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Office Set, but if you buy this set (or, more likely, get it as part of another purchase) you never know which colour you will get. The pack of two grey eraser caps has the Art No 18 70 00, the mixed colour pack has the Art No 18 70 01. I bought mine, i.e. the pack of two, from Cultpens for 90 pence (~ € 1.00). Another place to get them is WH Smith. They sell various Grip 2001 sets for what seems like a reasonable price. Most of them come with one or two Grip 2001 Eraser Caps.
So what is the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 Eraser Cap? First of all, it is an eraser. It can be put over the top of a pencil, obviously useful for pencils without an eraser tip. You could argue that it can also be used as a pencil extender, but because of its small size it would not be a very good extender. The cap can also be used to protect the point as there is an indentation inside to prevent the point from breaking when you insert the pencil. This ingenuity seems to be typical for Faber-Castell and reminds me of the Perfect Pencil. The point protection even works with long point pencils.
The eraser is made in Malaysia, like other Faber-Castell erasers, but the rubber seems to be much harder than other erasers like the dust-free 18 71 20 or 18 71 30C. Usually I prefer soft erasers, like the Sanford Artgum Eraser, and try to avoid “hard” erasers as they usually do not work so well for me, but the Grip 2001 Eraser Cap works amazingly well and is nice to use. It seems to erase as well as other good hard eraser and performs much better than average, harder erasers (e.g. an Impega eraser). Even though I describe it as hard it is still soft enough to adjust to the shape of the pencil being used on. It fits the triangular Grip 2001 pencils as well as hexagonal or round pencils.
With a weight of about 4 grams it is roughly 2 grams lighter than the Faber-Castell 9000 Perfect Pencil. When put on a long pencil I find the Eraser Cap slightly too unbalanced, but on a shorter pencil it is not really distracting.
Altogether the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 Eraser Cap is a fantastic eraser. I still prefer eraser tipped pencils, but not all pencils have ersaer tipped versions available. It is also fantastic to protect the point of pencils you carry with you.