Castell 9000


Paul Kidby’s pencil 2

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.

Paul Kidby’s Castell 9000 (image © BBC Scotland)

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.

Rob Wilkins’ Lamy Vista (image © BBC Scotland)

If you are in the UK you can watch the documentary on BBC iPlayer for another 28 days.


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.


Castell of the Woods

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.

wood-fc9000

Image © Maya Vision / BBC


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.


Deutschland 83 5

After The Game: Another TV series about cold war spies. Sean told me about this one. It’s called Deutschland 83 and its current IMDB rating is 8.5.

As the name suggests it takes place in 1983. Here’s a Castell 9000 in B you can see in episode 4, used by Professor Tischbier (Alexander Beyer) from the East German Secret Service.

A Castell 9000 in B (Image © UF Fiction)

A Castell 9000 in B (Image © UF Fiction)

Faber-Castell pencils from 1983 – sounds familiar, you might remember this previous blog post about the Castell 9000 pencils for their 222nd anniversary – that anniversary was in 1983.

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.

Castell 9000, 1983 and now

Castell 9000, now (top) and 1983 (bottom)


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.


I lost my Perfect Pencil 8

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.

 

Branches

The picture is from an old blog post about the Pencil Cedar – when I still had my Perfect Pencil.

 

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!1 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 expensive2 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.

  1. 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. []
  2. >£10 []

Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000 21

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.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

The Castell 9000‘s main markings. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia
Please enlarge by clicking, so that the differences are more obvious.

For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia1 has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia2. 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.

castell9000-indonesia2

The Castell 9000‘s bar codes. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia

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.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

Only the German Castell 9000 (top) has markings on three sides. The Indonesian Castell 9000 (bottom) only has markings on two sides.

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…

 

The 'town' of Castell

The ‘town’ of Castell. The Castell 9000 is (indirectly) named after this town, through the Counts of Castell.
Nearby, on Schwanberg, you can even find pencil cedars. The first seeds to plant these trees in Bavaria were imported by Lothar von Faber (Faber, 1873, p.44)3.


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.

More Castell 9000 related posts can be found at Contrapuntalism, Pencil Talk and Bleistift.

  1. Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. []
  2. Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance. []
  3. Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei []