This week I had a quick look at Manchester’s Muji store, where I found wood cased pencils and a desktop pencil sharpener.
Manchester used to have a bigger Muji store, but it closed down, maybe about ten years ago. We now only have a smaller Muji store in Selfridges.
Manchester’s Muji didn’t have these pencils and the sharpener earlier this year They used to sell wood cased coloured pencils, though., but it could be that bigger stores were stocking these products for a while already.
I didn’t buy them, just because Japanese pencils in HB can be to soft for my style of writing (I want a fine point that lasts) and for the kind of paper I use (normal paper). An example of this would be Tombow’s Drawing pencil in HB. I thought Muji’s 2B pencils are most likely too soft for me so I didn’t want to buy them and then end up not using them.
The pens left of the pencils seem very similar to OHTO Tasche pens.
Today I want to show you a type of clip that I use often and that’s very practical. Like the Ohto (officially OHTO) super clip and the corner clips, this type of clip is not very popular and this time I’m not even sure what to call this clip – there are so many different names for this type of clip. A few of the common names are: clam clip, supaclip, power clip, gachuck and nalclip.
Function This is gone be complicated, it’s probably easier if you just look at the pictures.
We are basically talking about a foldback clip (also called foldover clip or binder clip – here in the UK often called a bulldog clip) without the wire handle. This makes the whole clip quite a bit smaller as you leave out the two handles to open the clip which also means that the clip doesn’t need the small loops necessary for the handles. The disadvantage: you can’t easily open the clip any more when you want to clip it into paper, unless you have a clipper/dispenser, the device necessary to clip these clam clips onto the paper. Removing these clips is generally possible by pulling the clip off, most dispensers have a lip at the base to make pulling clips off easier. Even though you can remove them easily enough they clip the paper well enough so that the clip won’t come off by itself.
Ohto calls their version of this device Gachuck …because of the sound the dispenser makes when clipping paper together. I think in their version of the story the Gachuck’s inventor, a Mr. Sato, tried to approach several companies, but none were interested in this clipping system, until in 1980 he approached OHTO, back then still called AUTO, which then took on this product. Other companies have registered their names for these clips, too. Rapesco’s Supaclip even came with the tag line “The Original”.
There are many different versions of the clipper/dispenser and of the clips – made by many different manufacturers. I know of four different types of clippers and have three of the four different types. You can find each of these different types of clippers from different manufacturers and in different sizes. Clips are available in different widths as well as with different thickness to handle more sheets if needed.
Most clippers will only handle one size of clips, but will usually be able to handle clips made from different material. Most clips are made from stainless steel, but there are also plastic clips and clips made from a paper and polypropylene mix.
– Slot loading version
The most common version these days seems to be the slot loading version This is just my name for this type. If you know what this and other versions are officially called, please let me know.. You load the clips by feeding them into the slot at the back of the clipper. The slider, used to dispense the clips, is connected to a spring. It will automatically slide back after dispensing a clip, so you can use it again immediately. You will have to hold the clipper front down to get the next clip to slide to the front of the dispensing mechanism as clips will slide around in the dispenser, especially if the dispenser is nearly empty. The biggest disadvantage of the slot loading version: if a clip gets stuck you usually can’t remove it without inadvertently breaking the plastic off that prevents clips in the dispenser from falling out.
– Spring loaded version
This is my favourite version, unfortunately this version seems to be pretty hard to find these days. The advantage over the common slot loading version: the slider will slide back after use and will stop just after the next clip to be dispensed.
This means you can keep using the machine without having to turn it front down to get the next clip to the front. This is achieved using a spring mechanism similar to the one you will find in some good staplers My Leitz stapler has a very similar mechanism. The disadvantage: you need to open the clipper, similar to a stapler, to reload it. This takes slightly longer than reloading the slot loading version.
– Springless version
This version doesn’t have any spring. This means that additionally to holding the clipper front down, to get the clip in the right position to be dispensed, you also need to use your thumb to move the slider to the back, to be in the right position to dispense the clip.
This is the least comfortable to use version, but fixing any stuck clips is much easier compared to the spring loaded version. It can usually be done without damaging the clipper.
– Cartridge fed version
I don’t own a cartridge fed version, but as the name suggests you load the clipper by inserting a cartridge with clips. You can see a photo of this version on Ohto’s web site.
I like these clam clips a lot. I often use them to temporarily clip sheets of paper together that will get properly stapled at a later stage. If you have a dispenser at hand these clam clips are faster to use and more convenient that foldback clips.
Most of my clippers and clips were bought in Shanghai were a clipper or a pack of clips usually costs around 5-10 RMB (~80c – $1.50; ~50p – £1; 60c – €1). They are sold under the following brands: Bona, Comix and Deli. I bought the springless clipper many years ago from Schreibwaren Jäcklein in Volkach. It’s from Yoyo, distributed my Metzger & Mendle I’ve been meaning to reciew their inks for a few years now. I should definitely try to do that soon.. I think I paid just above €5 (~$7; £4) for it. Replacement clips were just above €3 (~$4). Replacement clips bought in the UK are similarly priced.
Has anyone seen the spring loaded version of the clipper? I’d like to get another one The one in the pictures actually belongs to my wife, but I’ve used it almost exclusively for the last few years. – they are great and the one I’m using has never had any problems with clogging up, unlike the slot loading clippers I’ve used.
No proper dates this time as I’ve bought these items over many years. The exchange rates given in the text are also only a rough guideline, as I just want to illustrate what you can expect to pay if you’re after one of these clippers.
Recently, I started to wonder why some of the items bought in the past years and month got so expensive.
Here are some examples. All prices are from Cultpens, just because that’s where these items were bought. I didn’t pick Cultpens because their prices increased more or less compared to other shops – other shops had similar prices at the same time and have similar prices now. Example: The price Niche Pens charged for the M400 was nearly the same at the time and is nearly the same now. Let’s have a look how the prices developed.
Total Price Increase
Pelikan M400 white tortoise
Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil
Graf von Faber-Castell Six Guilloche Pencils
Neither RPI nor CPI were as high as the stationery price increase, even when you take the VAT increase into account. One point to mention is however that these pens are what I would call luxury pens Customers of Montblanc pens might disagree with me on that and might call these mid- level pens.. So luxury stationery went up I’ll just generalise instead of going down the “the price of three pens at one retailer went up” route.. How did the price of branded, good quality stationery increase?
Total Price Increase
Staedtler Mars Micro Coloured Leads 0.5mm
Stabilo All Marking Pencil
Faber-Castell 9000 Pencil
KUM Streamline Chrome Canister Sharpener 460S
1% More precise: 6‰, but I tried to stick to rounded %.
Interesting. That’s much closer to inflation. The Stabilo pencil even got cheaper. Unlike all other products mention so far the Stabilo is, as far as I know, not made in the eurozone. Maybe the Euro is one of the reasons behind the price increase, the Pound lost a lot of value against the Euro and QE certainly doesn’t help to keep it’s value up Every time the latest QE figures are in the news I get a shock when I think about how much money that is equivalent to when you divide it by the (working) population.. OK, that’ Europe, but with Japan being a big manufacturer of stationery, how did the price of Japanese made pens develop?
Total Price Increase
OHTO Tasche Fountain Pen
Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L Yes, it’s made in Japan.
Zebra TS3 Pocket Pencil
The price were quite stable, they actually even went down, especially in real terms!
So. Luxury stationery prices went up a lot. Eurozone stationery got more expensive, but in real terms it probably kept its price, especially when taking the VAT increase into account. Non-Eurozone stationery went down in price. I wonder what happened to luxury stationery from Japan. Did it go up or down in price? Did anyone buy, let’s say a Pilot Falcon or something similarly priced in the last years in the UK? How much did you pay?
Percentages are rounded.
The old price was reconstructed from the order confirmations which listed prices for all articles without VAT and the VAT sum for the whole order. This means that the old price listed for stationery might be off by a penny or so. I’d also like to add that this is not at all supposed to be representative.
Price Increase / Year is what it say on the tin. Price Increase divided by the years since the item was bought. Compounding has not been taken into account, hey: I’m not an accountant or economist.
The pictures are from old blog posts (here and here), just to put some colour into this blog post.
East… West… Everywhere had twoblog posts about beginner fountain pens in December. Some of the fountain pens in these blog posts are really affordable and I didn’t expect to find a cheaper fountain pen …but when I recently ordered something from CultPens I was surprised to find an even cheaper fountain pen at least in the UK – prices in other countries might vary: The Berol Handwriting Cartridge Pen (New Look version).
Berol, a British company that is now a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid, has its origins in pencil making. In 1856 Daniel Berolzheimer went from Franconia, where Staedtler and Faber-Castell are from, to the USA and founded the Eagle Pencil Company. I don’t want to bore you with details, but in the end Newell Rubbermaid took over. Many readers of pencil blogs will also know that the Berolzheimer family is still part of today’s pencil industry as they own CalCedar. Some will also remember how they managed to upset parts of the pencil community last year, but there is no direct link to Berol or Newell Rubbermaid.
What you pay and what you get
I paid £2.45 (~ $4; €3). There is only one nib width available. The pen is made in China. I don’t really find it very good looking, but better looking fountain pens, like the Pelikan Pelikano junior (< £10) or the Kaweco Sport (< £20) are several times more expensive than the Berol Handwriting Cartridge Pen. The Berol comes with a rubber ring and a rubberised grip area to make holding the pen more comfortable. It is very light, some might find it too light, but fairly comfortable to hold.
The nib is not very wet, not very dry either. It’s certainly drier than most Pelikan nibs, but they tend to be on the wet side anyway. Ink will dry fast and you won’t see a lot of shading. With it writing fairly dry ink cartridges should last a long time, but light inks might appear too light on the paper. I didn’t have a problem with nib not ‘starting’, even after the pen hasn’t been used for several weeks. Unfortunately I only had the pen on my desk, so I am not sure whether ink will spill if the pen is knocked around in a pencil case.
The nib is very rigid, which is normal for cheap pens. If you try to vary the line width this is not the pen for you.
This pen offers excellent value for money. For me it’s not really a beauty, but that’s subjective – you might like the looks. If you want a cheap fountain pen that does the job this pen might just be right for you.
Price: December 2012
Exchange rates: January 2013
The paper in the pictures is from the RAH STMT X Iceland kit.
Back from Germany, I am going to try another four-in-one blog post. I did not take part in the Faber-Castell factory tour mentioned in one of the previous comments because of a bereavement – which resulted in a very different trip than planned. I hope to take part in one of their factory tours in December and hope to find the time to visit Staedtler’s shop in Nuremberg, too.
This is going to be a four-in-one blog post because I want to speed things up as there are so many things I want to write about but I do not write enough blog posts – so the queue gets longer and longer. The low number i.e. one of comments on the previous four-in-one blog post about the Black n’ Red polynote does however make me think that writing about multiple items in one blog post does not give each individual item the attention it deserves, so I might switch back to one or two items per post…
…but today another (the last?) many-in-one blog post.
The Kronenheft must be one of the most understated notepads available. I bought mine at Antiquariat Daniel Osthoff in August 2010. I mentioned this shop and some of the papers they sell in my blog post about the OHTO Super Clip. The Kronenheft notepad has been on the market for many years and is distributed by Carta Pura. It measures 15 cm x 10 cm and features a 290 g/m² Preßspanersatzkarton cover, an “imitation particle board” traditionally used, amongst other things, for book covers. It is a sturdy material made from wood pulp. The paper of this pad is 80 g/m² Salzer Werkdruck paper from Austrian paper manufacturer Salzer. Even though paper has been manufactured in Salzer’s town since 1469 and at the their mill, Obere Papiermühle, since 1579, the history of Salzer is slightly younger as the founder Kaspar Salzer did not have his own paper mill until 1798. Even though the 80 g/m² Salzer Werkdruck paper is not their best paper it is very good with a great feel and texture and a slightly creme-coloured tint.
Carta Pura, the distributor, sells this notepad in twelve different colours for € 7 each. You can also get a refill (40 sheets) for € 3. I paid less, but I am not sure how much exactly. FontShop used to sell them for a good price, but when I check recently I could not find it in their online shop any more.
This is the second appearance of a Morning Glory pencil at Bleistift. The first appearance was last month, when I wrote about RAD AND HUNGRY’s STMT X Korea kit. This time I used a much older Morning Glory pencil that my wife bought about ten years ago, the morning glory No. 33322-45229 HB. You would think that such a long product number can definitely point to one specific type of pencil, but there are actually different versions of the morning glory No. 33322-45229 HB pencil, with different colours printed on the pencil, but with the same product number.
The pencil itself writes very well. It could be a bit smoother, but it is by no means a scratchy pencil.
Since today is Star Wars day (May the Fourth be with you) I have to include the Pelikan M100, too. I cannot look at this pen without thinking of Stormtroopers and am convinced that if Stormtroopers had fountain pens this Pelikan M100 would be standard issue! It is a great fountain pen and all of its parts are either white or black, even the nib is black. The piston mechanism does not feel as smooth as it does with a Pelikan M200 or a Souverän, but when this fountain pen was released in 1987 it was not an expensive pen so it is no surprise that the piston mechanism is not on the same level. The nib however is excellent for a steel nib and is quite flexible, too.
Noodler’s X-Feather ink
The ink used in the M100 is Noodler’s X-Feather ink, a black ink that is bulletproof, i.e. resistant to bleach, chemicals, light, etc. I have used this ink for years and am very happy with it. There is only one disadvantage I noticed. If you use it in a wet writer and use paper that does not absorb ink easily (e.g. post cards) it can happen that a layer on top of the ink does not ‘dry’ completely. In this case it can smudge or smear, even days after the text has been written. Under normal circumstances this is however not really a problem.
The Kronenheft is just great, but with its price tag I am not sure I will use it often. It copes well with ink (no bleeding though) and pencil and has a nice colour and texture.