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Faber-Castell 1117 8

It is probably superfluous to write about the Faber-Castell 1117. Not because it is a very common pencil everybody knows about, but because this pencil is not new to the blogosphere. It has previously been reviewed at penciltalk and this isn’t its first appearance at Bleistift either: the 1117 was the supporting actor in the review of the Deli pencil sharpener 0668. So why do I write about it again? The reason is that I thought Faber-Castell stopped producing this entry level pencil – after I was unable to buy this pencil in shops that sold this specific model previously. Before you panic: Calm down, dear. The good news is that Faber-Castell confirmed that they are still making the 1117.

Price

My guess is that the 1117 is the cheapest pencil made in Germany1. Today, you can find the version without ferrule and eraser for as little as € 0.20 (~ 28¢; 17p), if you buy them in Germany  over the Internet. That’s a bit more than half the Internet price of a Staedtler Noris and about ¼ of a good Internet price for the Castell 9000. I bought the last few dozen in the local stationery shop Schreibwaren Jäcklein in my home town of  Volkach when I went there in April. eraser-tipped 1117s for € 0.58 each (~ 82¢; 51p) and the untipped 1117s for € 0.36 each (~ 51¢; 32p). Last November I bought the eraser tipped 1117s in B for € 0.29 each (~ 41¢; 25p), online at Schule-Uni-Shop / CTK, but CTK do not stock the 1117 any more.

Writing qualities

The lead of the 1117 could be better, there is not doubt about that, but in good Faber-Castell tradition it does last a long time before it wears down and needs sharpening. Once the pencil it dull or blunt it is, at least in my experience, less pleasant to write with. This is however quite normal for inexpensive pencils and only very few pencils would excel in this category. The 1117 is however usually quite smooth and there would be very few combinations of paper and pencil point state that would result in a scratchy writing experience. The lead could be darker, but this is again something we shouldn’t be surprised about as Faber-Castell measure and label the softness of the lead quite conservatively. The 1117 shows no problems with smudging when being erased erased. I would describe the eraser from the eraser-tipped version as “normal quality”. It performs a bit worse than the eraser of a Dixon Ticonderoga , is similar to the eraser of a General’s Semi-Hex, but much better than the white eraser of the Palomino Blackwing.2

Overall

This is an extremely cheap, or better: inexpensive,  pencil and value for money is definitely excellent.  Production of the 1117 started in 1991/1992 (20th anniversary soon!). When this pencil was first introduced it was unfinished, but for hygienic reasons later versions got a protective finish. The feel is however very similar to an unfinished pencil. Depending on your perspective this means that the pencil has a great grip or it is slightly too rough and therefore uncomfortable. The version without ferrule and eraser is available in 2B, B, HB and H. I have seen the eraser-tipped version in B and HB, but according to the label on the box the eraser-tipped version is available in five grades. All versions feature SV-bonded anti-break leads.

Næturvaktin, episode 8: Is Ólafur giving Daníel a Faber-Castell 1117? Will there be a pencil in the US remake? (Image © Saga Film)



Prices: November 2010, April 2011 and June 2011

Exchange rates: June 2011

I would like to thank Ms Schaklies from Faber-Castell for the additional information about the 1117.

The photo of Ólafur handing over a pencil to Daníel has been taken from episode 8 of the great, Icelandic comedy Næturvaktin. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

  1. Probably even the cheapest pen []
  2. In case you wonder why I picked these two for the comparison: Those pencils were just lying on my keyboard. Thanks to Sean, Kent and Adair for these. []

Deli pencil sharpener 0668 11

When you visit a university in Shanghai you will usually find at least two types of shops nearby: Snack shops (lots of them) and stationery shops. I have not yet seen another city where this phenomenon is as obvious as in Shanghai. The stationery shops can be split into two groups: stationery shops with functional stationery and stationery shops that sell girly stationery as well as other things like make-up, charms, etc – but you can also find shops that are somewhere in-between these two groups.

After my good experience with another Deli sharpener I could not resist and bought this TLR shaped sharpener, the Deli 0668, in December 2010 when I saw it in it in Shanghai – in a stationery shops outside a university. Deli’s headquarters are near Shanghai, so I it is not surprising that this sharpener was inspired by a Shanghainese-made Seagull TLR1.

The 0668's single rotary blade cylinder

I paid about ¥ 30 (£ 2.80, € 3.30, $ 4.50) for this sharpener, a bit more than what I paid for the Deli 0635. You can get this sharpener cheaper if you look around or if you buy online, e.g. from Taobao. Outside China you can get this sharpener from Kikkerland for $15 (£ 9.30, € 10.80) or from Urban Outfitters for £ 15 ($ 24.20 , € 17.50)2. It is currently on offer and can be bought for £ 8 online and in the Urban Outfitter shops .

The 0668 has a single rotary blade cylinder, similar to the one in the 0635. There is also a removable tray for the shavings. The clamps that hold the pencil during sharpening have a rubber surface so they won’t damage the pencil’s surface. Additionally, there is an automatic stop mechanism that will prevent you from over-sharpening a pencil. The main difference between the two Deli sharpeners is that the 0668 produces a shorter (and blunter) point. It also features a point adjuster switch similar to the one seen in the Carl Bungu Ryodo BR-05 pencil sharpener, reviewed at pencil talk and in the Dahle 133 / M+R 0981, reviewed at Lexikaliker. The blunt setting at the extreme end will result in a “point” diameter of about 2mm is only suitable for colour pencils with a wide core. Normal graphite pencils do not have a wide enough core for this setting.

 

On the left a Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened with the Deli 0668 (sharp setting), in the middle a Faber-Castell 1117 and a Mitsubishi Arterase Color 0668 sharpened with the Deli 0668 (blunt setting), on the right a Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened with the Deli 0635

Conclusion: A great sharpener for a great price. I will not use the blunt setting and, to be honest, I do prefer the longer point I get from the Deli 0635 much more. It is nevertheless a sharpener I will enjoy using. It is currently in my office where I use it for all kinds of wooden pencils, but not for pencils that use difficult to sharpen material, like the Wopex, as my experience with the Deli 0635 has shown that the Deli’s automatic stop mechanism does not work with these pencils and that the harder material seems to be detrimental to the blade cylinder.

 

A Faber-Castell 1117 sharpened using the sharp setting and a Uni Mitsubishi Arterase Color Vermilion sharpened using the blunt setting.


The pencils used in this blog post are Faber-Castell’s 1117 B and Uni Mitsubishi’s Arterase Color Vermilion 310. The 1117 feels like an unpainted pencil. It is not really painted but features a water-based varnish. It also has a breakage-resistant lead and an eraser. It does performs well for a budget pencil. It is made in Germany and sells for around € 0.30 each (~42¢, ~25p). You can find a review of the Faber-Castell 1117 at pencil talk. The Uni Mitsubishi’s Arterase Color Vermilion 310 is made in Japan. I do not have more information about this pencil, but you can find a review at Lexikaliker and at pencil talk. I would like to thank Lexikaliker for the Arterase Color pencil used in this blog post.

Prices: December 2010

Exchange rates: March 2011

The Deli in Urban Outfitters (Manchester)

  1. Seagull TLRs were basically Rolleiflex copies. Outside China Quelle rebranded Seagull TLRs and distributed them as Revue cameras (40 years ago). There are still companies out there that distribute Seagull cameras outside China, one of the most famous ones is Lomography. Another interesting point: Whoever designed this sharpener changed the markings compared to the real camera, from f/3.5 to f/1.5 []
  2. Urban Outfitters buy it from Kikkerland and in the end after shipping it over, everyone adding some profit and after adding tax, it is more than five times as expensive than what I paid in a little shop that wasn’t cheap in the first place. []