This weekend saw the BBC airing their Terry Pratchett documentary Back in Black.
In the documentary Paul Kidby, the artist responsible for most of the fantastic Discworld artwork, can be seen with a rather impressive, hand sharpened pencil point on a Castell 9000. I think it can certainly compete with the longest pencil points I have seen in use. It’s even longer than the one on the James Bond cover.
In the documentary you can also see Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett’s former assistant, signing books with a Lamy Vista filled with green ink. Nice.
The screenshots have been taken from Terry Pratchett documentary Back in Black. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
Another appearance of Michael Wood at Bleistift, but unlike last time you won’t see a Staedtler Noris in his latest documentary The Story of China. Instead you’ll see Dr YiJie Zhuang using a Faber-Castell Castell 9000.
I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Castell 9000, taken from Michael Wood’s The Story of China falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
Here’s a comparison of the modern Castell 9000, as seen in Deutschland 83 – with the water-based varnish side facing the camera, and the actual Castell 9000 from 1983. The green got even darker, the thick line on the end of the pencils changed from gold to silver/grey and the text printed on the pencils has changed.
The screenshot in this blog post has been taken from Episode Four of Deutschland 83. I believe that the use of the screenshot shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
It looks as if I lost my Perfect Pencil. My trusted companion since February 2009. With me nearly every single day since I bought it. I guess there is a small chance I will find it again, but that seems unlikely at this stage.
The Castell 9000 version is, in my opinion, by far the best version. I don’t like the look of any of the other Faber-Castell versions and the Graf von Faber-Castell versions are on the one hand a bit too ‘show off’ and they are also very heavy …which makes them feel unbalanced – plus I know from experience that if both of them fall from a meter or so on tarmac the Castell 9000 version will usually survive unharmed while the Graf von version will get a corner chipped off, because its weight made the fall so much worse.
The big question: should I buy a new one, the green one again? They got more expensive in the UK. I bought mine from Cult Pens where they now sell for 12% more (when taking VAT out of the equation). On the other hand the refills got nearly 50% cheaper! I used to use the long eraser-tipped 9000 in B to save on refills. Letter colour is different (gold vs silver) and the layout is different, but otherwise they seem identical except length. Even though a 12% price rise seems reasonable they are only half of the UK price when bought at Müller, a German drug store chain.
In the past I was tempted to get the black version. The black version looks as if it would look good with a Noris as a refill, but the only place where I have seen the black version for sale is in Japan, so it does get quite expensive – and currently I shouldn’t really spent money on expensive >£10 stationery.
I’m not sure yet whether I pay the more expensive UK price, wait for a one from Germany or pay the premium to get the black Japanese version.
Here in the UK there are several TV shows about buying holiday homes abroad or emigrating. One of those shows is “Wanted Down Under”. The format is usually the same and involves showing how much more people would earn down under and showing what to expect in terms of costs, facilities etc. I’ve never seen a whole episode, but over the years I’ve seen different bits from several episodes and (suspenseful music) they have never talked about the stationery situation down under!
Time to remedy this. Let’s look at the Castell 9000 down under.
For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance.. They said that prior to this they bought them from Germany, but if Faber-Castell Indonesia is out of stock Faber-Castell Australia will request replenishment from Faber-Castell Germany.
In reality this situation seems to be a bit more complicated than that. You might remember Kevin from New South Wales because of his guest review of the Dahle 133 sharpener. Kevin reports that for the last eight to ten years he usually only came across Indonesian Castell 9000 pencils, the exception being some mixed grade tins, which are from Germany.
Sarab from Western Australia also struggles to find the German Castell 9000, which he prefers, and reports that its not easy finding a stationery shop in Europe that will ship small orders internationally. In his experience the differences in grade of the Indonesian Castell 9000 are very subtle or non-existent. In the past he managed to get Bavarian made Castell 9000 pencils in some branches of Jacksons Drawing Supplies, but now they also only stock Indonesian made Castell 9000 pencils.
There seem to be so many unused numbers after 9000. I can see that Castell 9000 is an established brand, but I wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if the Indonesian pencil had another model number – what about 9001? It’s easy to distinguish the different 9000s anyway. In terms of colour and feel the paint of the Indonesian 9000, which doesn’t seem to be water-based, seems to be more similar to the paint used for the Mitsubishi 9800 and less similar to the one used for the Castell 9000 from Stein. The bar code, lead hardness font and print on only two sides of the hexagonal pencil also give the game away anyway…
I would like to thank Sarab, who brought this issue to my attention, Faber-Castell Australia for further information, Kevin for further information and for the Indonesian Castell 9000 he sent me in October 2011 and Sean for telling me about the book referenced in the third footnote.