A Stationery Christmas

Now that the holiday period is coming to an end and things are returning to normal I thought I share my Stationery Christmas with you.

Hobonichi Techo

I mentioned previously that I would like to try the bigger A5 sized Hobonichi Techo this year, the Cousin. I ordered the A6 version, again, but changed my mind and it was too late to change the order. Luckily I was able to sell my A6 Techo on eBay without losing too much money. Even more lucky, my wife was looking for a Christmas gift for me and The Journal Shop had a Black Friday event, so the Cousin was available for a good price. Not cheaper than when ordering from Japan, but this way was saving time and hassle with customs. For a little bit extra you could even get a cover with the Techo. I picked the Hazelnut cover, not only because it looked good on the photos, also (to a smaller extent) because I really like hazelnuts. The Blue Gingham cover would have been my next choice.

One complaint I have is that the Hobonichi should have been packed a bit better. The corners of the diary look as if it fell down at some stage. They look worse than the corners of by Avec from previous years which all have been used for six months each.

The cover itself looks good but more shiny than expected. It is still fairly gender-neutral, less than expected. It reminds me a bit of the stationery that chains like Paperchase use to target female customers.

First impression:

With the Hazelnut cover, the Cousin isn’t much bigger than the A6 version with a zipped cover. The big zipped cover was one of the reasons why I often took my A6 Techo out of the cover when I took it to a meeting at work – the cover was just so bulky compared to the diary.

The Techo usually spends most of the time on my desk at home or at work, so the size itself is not a problem. The Cousin comes with additional weekly pages: One week per double pages. So far I found this a useful addition. I will see how the A5 Cousin holds up. My hope is that I can write down more useful, work-related information during the day as there is more space. Whether I can then easily find what I have written down is another matter, we will see.

In case you wonder why I don’t use my new Staedtler 925 15 with the Hobonichi: the rubber grip is too difficult to put through the cover’s closing loops.

Funnily enough Brad Dowdy seems to have switched to a Cousin, too, this year. You can hear his first impression in The Pen Addict Podcast #289, around 44 minutes in.



We also got a surprise parcel with Christmas gifts from friends from Singapore.

Fun fact: In the Nineties and earlier Noughties these friends and I were running the biggest Gameboy web site on the planet: At that time, I had several limited edition Gameboys and accessories the day after they were released in Japan (at least when the postal service was quick, which it often was).

The gift they sent to my wife was a Japanese magazine that came with a Pikachu case. The magazine itself is described as a “trend magazine for business person” and includes information about stationery. I thought I share some of the stationery items shown there with you.

The zeit Vektor folder seems interesting. I assume it can be stored vertically in your drawer for easy access, but you can also just take it with you.

Orgel On, the tape measure that seems to play a melody is probably more of a gimmick, but the masking tape for closing and opening envelopes seems like a good idea. There have been many pencils as dice products, so they don’t get me too excited, the novelty has worn off, but the colourful Rhodia cases look beautiful.

Non Stationery

Other, unrelated, things I found out during the holidays and found very exciting:

The Dutch have caffeine free Coke Zero. How cool is that‽

..and Munich’s Develey brand is selling a sauce in Germany that tastes very similar to McDonald’s sauce on the Big Tasty. I am quite sure that when I was still living in Germany the McDonald’s sauces there were made by Develey, so this one might even be made in the same factory as the real one.

The images from Dime magazine have been taken from the September 2017 issue. I believe that their use falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope that over the holidays you’ll find the time to enjoy some of your favourite pens and pencils.

I was lucky enough to get some pencils for Christmas from my wife (including a Lamy plus pencil, which isn’t easy to get in the UK and some less common Staedtler pencils), but I also got two non-pencil items for Christmas: a bottle of Graf von Faber-Castell’s new ink and a Lindauer fountain pen. In Papier Pfeiffer I was told that Faber-Castell is currently only shipping Hazelnut Brown,  Stone Grey and Garnet Red – I assume this is only true for Germany though. Shops in other countries seem to  stock different ink colours. Graf von Lindauer

The Snowman and The Snowdog

Pencils sorted by colour (© Rare Day)
Pencils sorted by colour (Image © Rare Day)

The Snowman

I know, Christmas is over, but the weather is still fairly wintery and it’s just starting to get warmer now, so you might forgive me if I wrote about snowmen. Since 1982 Channel 4 has been showing The Snowman every year for Christmas. It’s a 26-minute animation drawn using pencils.

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (© Rare Day)
A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (Image © Rare Day)

I don’t think The Snowman is very well known outside the UK, but if you’re not on the British Isles you might know another animation from the author Raymond Briggs: When the Wind Blows.

Are these Caran d'Ache pencils? (© Rare Day)
Are these Caran d’Ache pencils? (Image © Rare Day)

According to the Cumberland Pencil Museum, where you can see a making of video, it has been drawn using Derwent Cumberland pencils.

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (© Rare Day)
A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (Image © Rare Day)

The sequel

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the animation Channel 4 made a sequel: The Snowman and The Snowdog. When I first heard about the sequel I was sceptical and didn’t expect it to be hand drawn using pencils, but to my surprise it’s hand made using pencils. The sequel cost £2 million and according to a documentary about the making of the sequel 200 000 sheets of paper and 5000 pencils were used.

Prismacolor 20044 blue (© Rare Day)
Prismacolor 20044 blue (Image © Rare Day)

In a documentary, also shown on Channel 4, you can see all sorts of pencils being used in the studio in North London where the cells were hand drawn. I was surprised to see fairly few Derwent Cumberland pencils [1]I would have thought that Derwent Cumberland would have an interest in sponsoring this movie – 5000 pencils wouldn’t have been a lot for them.. The pencils visible in the documentary don’t have to be representative of those used for the animation, but the pencils you get to see in the documentary are not from Derwent – they are mainly Prismacolor pencils. The 20044, an eraser-tipped blue pencil, seems to be particularly often used for outline animations [2]If that’s the right word. . I believe the reason blue is being used is because cameras or copiers will ignore this colour or shade of colour, so that sketch lines don’t need to be erased and the final black lines can just be drawn over the sketches [3]I first read about this when I discovered Staedtler’s non-photo-blue pencils.. You can also see some Caran d’Ache pencils, Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph and two mechanical pencils, which I think were both Pentels.

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (© Rare Day)
Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (Image © Rare Day)

Some scenes were filmed in Raymond Briggs’ House where many Derwent Cumberland pencils were visible and where you can also see him using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph.


Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (© Rare Day)
Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (Image © Rare Day)

The images in this blog post have been taken from Rare Day‘s documentary How the Snowman Came Back to Life. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

The Snowman and The Snowdog (© Lupus Films, Rare Day)
The Snowman and The Snowdog (Image © Lupus Films, Rare Day)


1 I would have thought that Derwent Cumberland would have an interest in sponsoring this movie – 5000 pencils wouldn’t have been a lot for them.
2 If that’s the right word.
3 I first read about this when I discovered Staedtler’s non-photo-blue pencils.

Montblanc Christmas Ink

Montblanc did not release a new Christmas Ink this year, as I discovered when I went to the Montblanc Boutique in Manchester last week. Instead last year’s ink White Forest has been released again. It is a shame as I was looking forward to a new, scented Christmas ink. As far as I know there have been four different Montblanc Christmas inks until now:

  • The brown ink from 2005, also called Cookies and Spices
  • The ink from 2006. Same colour, spicier cinnamon smell
  • The red ink from 2007 with a vanilla smell
  • The green ink from 2008, with a pinewood smell. The first one with an official name: White Forest

Unfortunately many cleaning products have a pinewood smell, not making this smell a good choice in my opinion. The 2009 ink has the same name, packing, colour and I couldn’t notice a different scent when I was in the Montblanc Boutique.

According to messages on the Fountain Pen Network the re-release of the same ink might be because of problems with last year’s Christmas ink. I remember that the bottle I bought back then was difficult to open, as if there was a vacuum inside. It even kept the white foamy insert of the lid on the bottle, separating the insert from the lid even though it had been glued on in the factory. When I moved this foam disc away you could hear the air being sucked in and there was this something mould-like floating on the surface.

Montblanc Christmas Ink
Montblanc Christmas Ink: 2005, 2007, 2008

Well.. If I feel very christmasy I might order some Christmas scented inks from De Atramentis instead, but postage to the UK is not cheap and when I ordered from them before there were some unidentifyable “things” in the package, including lots of hair, which put me off.