Chung Hwa


Deli No.7083 HB 1

Shanghai

Shanghai

The Deli 7083 at Carrefour

The Deli 7083 at Carrefour

Yet another blog post related to my recent visit to Shanghai.

You might remember the Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101, together with the Chung Hwa 6151 it forms the pencil backbone of Shanghai. Whenever you see a pencil in Shanghai it usually is one of these two – and they are made in Shanghai, too.

…but what happened? Deli dared to enter Chung Hwa’s home turf – disturbing the natural order of things.

…and what a pencil they sent to threaten Chung Hwa’s hold on its home territory: it’s the Deli No.70831.

The Chung Hwa 101 in its natural habitat

The Chung Hwa 101 in its natural habitat

Price

I bought the 7083 in the Carrefour in Shanghai’s Hongkou Dragon Dream Shopping Centre and paid 11.80 元  (~$1.80; £1.25; €1.65) for a dozen HB pencils. They were also available in 2B and 2H.

The Chung Hwa 6151 in its natural habitat

The Chung Hwa 6151 in its natural habitat

Appearance

Let’s look at the appearance first. The 7083 looks like a pencil with a very thick layer of paint. The paint seems to be applied very well, except near the end of the pencil, which seems to have been dipped in just a bit too much paint. The 7083 has an unusually large diameter for a modern pencil. The paint job and the large diameter make it feel like a much better pencil than what you’d expect from a pencil with this price tag.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

It is dark green like the Chung Hwa 101, but there’s also a similarity with another pencil. The shade of green used is virtually identical to the one used for the Castell 9000.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Lead

The 7083 lays down a very dark line and feels very smooth, even creamy when writing – but just to put this into context, we are talking about a very cheap pencil. The 7083 is not as good as the big boys, like the Mars Lumograph. Nevertheless it is very good and probably the best pencil I have tried in this price range.

If I had to compare to a pencil that is well known I would compare it to Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph in B. Point retention is very similar, but in direct comparison it is ever so slightly lighter than the Lumograph in B and slightly less smooth and erases slightly worse than the Lumograph in B2.

It writes well even on paper that is not good for non-soft pencils, like the original (‘Kraft’?) Field Notes.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Wood

The wood is slightly red, similar to the one used for the Chung Hwa 101 and when you knife sharpen the 7083 you notice that the wood is harder than cedar wood.

Deli No.7083

Deli No.7083

Conclusion

A great pencil that is nearly as good as much more expensive pencils. It has a strong paint smell, similar to other Chinese pencils, but for this price you probably won’t be able to find a much better pencil.


Price: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

Please open images in a new tab/window to see them at full resolution.

 

  1. I assume the product number is derived from the last digits of the bar code before the heck digit …or maybe it’s the other way round. []
  2. In case you wonder why, based in these statements, I don’t compare it to the Lumograph in HB: It is still much closer to the Lumograph in B, which shows you how minute these differences are. []

Three black pencils 4

Today: black pencils from China. Black because of the paint, not because of the lead or the wood. I bought these pencils in December in Keyroad, a shop I have mentioned several times so far.

The three competing black pencils, here in a Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand.

OK, we’ve got the black version of the Chung Hwa 6903 and the M&G AWP34601. Chung Hwa and M&G are both from Shanghai. Just South of Shanghai is Zhejiang province, represented by the Zibom P-6000 pencil.

 

Chung Hwa 6903

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the, in my opinion, better looking brown version of the Chung Hwa 6903. The black version is very similar. The pencil is still round, but painted black and the cap at the end is black, too, not white. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The Chung Hwa 6903

 

 

Zibom P-6000

Then we’ve got the hexagonal Zibom P-6000. It comes with an eraser and has the packaging I like most of these three pencils. It also comes with a sharpener, but the pencils have an unfinished end. I paid ¥7.5 (~ 75p; $1.20; 90c) for a dozen.

The Zibom P-6000

 

M&G AWP34601

The last pencil in this blog post is the hexagonal M&G AWP34601. This pencil is certainly the winner is this group when it comes to the coolest model number. I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.20) for a dozen.

The M&G AWP34601

 

…and the winner is:

My personal favourite is the M&G AWP34601, the only 2B pencil in this comparison1. It’s the winner …not because of the cool model number, which sounds like a model number for some sort of high tech robot, but because the wood is not red. If anything, the AWP34601’s wood is too yellow, but I still prefer that to red wood. The runner up is the Zibom P-6000, the packaging is great, it is the cheapest in this comparison and comes with a free sharpener. The worst pencil is the Chung Hwa 6903. Yes, I know, this must be difficult to believe, as my blog post about the brown version was quite positive – but unlike the brown version this black version is just not so nice. Plus, I prefer hexagonal pencils. Lead-wise the AWP34601 is smoothest, it is a 2B after all. The P-6000 seems scratchier than the 6903. Wood-wise the 6903 has the hardest wood, so hard in fact that the auto-stop mechanism of some desktop sharpeners will not engage.

Congratulations M&G AWP34601.

Renold, the robot, presents the winner, the AWP34601.

The winner: The M&G AWP34601 2B

GoldSilverBronze
M&G AWP34601Zibom P-6000Chung Hwa 6903
Good:

cool name

wood not red

smooth lead

 

 

 

Good:

cheap

free sharpener

 

Bad:

red wood

unfinished end

Bad:

hard wood

red wood

round

 

 

 

 


Prices: December 2011

Exchange rates: March 2012

 

The Dairy Queen calendar pencil stand was ¥10 (~ £1; $1.60; €1.20). It comes with twelve walls for twelve months and three “bottoms”. Bureau Direct started selling a similar pencil stand (maybe a but late, now that it’s already March), unfortunately it is quite a bit more expensive: £9.95 (~ $15.60; €11.95).

 

Unfortunately I forgot to open the lens’ aperture on the photo where Renold, the robot, presents the winner.  Now the out of focus highlights are not round and a bit distracting..

  1. The other two pencils are HB. []

Chung Hwa 6903 6

Shanghai’s FuZhou road

You might remember Keyroad, a stationery shop on Shanghai’s FuZhou road, from the blog post about the Simbalion Graphic Pencils or from the blog post about the Deli pencil sharpener 0635. How could I not go there again this year… This time I was actually more excited by two other shops on FuZhou road, but I will not go into more detail now and will write more about them another time.

M&G

Back to Keyroad. I bought several packs of pencils, including a few different types of wooden pencils made by M&G, a stationery manufacturer from Shanghai which I only knew as a manufacturer of mechanical pencils and other stationery, but whose wooden pencils I have either never seen or I must have forgotten about.

Chung Hwa 6903

The best looking pencil in the shop was, however, the Chung Hwa 6903. A round, brown pencil with a white-painted cap and golden lettering. What a magnificent looking pencil, at least in my (subjective) opinion. I am not really a fan of round pencils and prefer hexagonal pencils, probably because I don’t have to write using pencils for six hours in one go… Nevertheless, the elegant look of this pencil, the great combination of colours used, the lettering and, not so common for a Chinese pencil, the painted cap made this pencil the star of the shelf.

Quality

There was some disappointment when I sharpened the first 6903 a few days later, the cheapish looking red wood does take some of the magic of the pencil away. There are also some gold flecks on the pencil body near the lettering and the white cap could have been painted a bit better. The 6903 seems to have a slightly larger diameter than some other round pencils, like the Faber-Castell 9008, but compared to the 9008 the difference is less than 1mm.

Chung Hwa 6903 and Staedtler Mars Lumograph

Conclusion

Keeping in mind that this is not an expensive pencil, I paid ¥9.9 (~ £1; $1.55; €1.25) for a dozen, the 6903 provides excellent value for money. The graphite transfer between pages for text written with a 6903 HB is similar to the transfer that is occuring with a Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB, definitely worse than a Staedtler Wopex HB and definitely better than a Tombow Mono 100 HB. If you have a chance to get the Chung Hwa 6903 for a good price you should definitely give it a go.

 

I am quite happy with these pencils, but wish there was a better version, made of cedar wood, or at least something not so red. I’d be more than happy to pay extra for the better material.

 


Price: December 2011

Exchange rates: January 2012

The Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 has been reviewed in a previous blog post.


Chung Hwa 6151 5

I spent Christmas and New Year in Shanghai and saw our old friend, the green Chung Hwa 101, again …on many occasions. I even think that there were more 101s and fewer unidentifiable No Name pencils than in the past. I did however see one specific pencil replacing the 101 in several places were the 101 was previously the only dominant pencil.

The contender that took over some restaurant tables and cashier desks was the Chung Hwa 6151, previously reviewed at pencil talk. The fact that the 6151 comes with an eraser must make it more desirable in many situations – like the one on the photo, where it is used by patrons to order dim sum by marking the desired types and quantities on a menu.


Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 12

Popular Pencils in the UK and Germany

For me the Staedtler Noris has always been the archetype of a pencil. The Mars Lumograph might come close and these days I might also consider the Castell 9000, but somehow I never really saw the Castell 9000 being used around me when I was younger. My father was a joiner, so he used carpenter pencils and normal pencils …and because he used a lot of them he would not buy the more expensive ones. There was a point, I think it was the early nineties, when Herlitz Scolair pencils became quite cheap. So he usually used those …and he used a lot of them. Even though I also used to use them I never thought of them as nice pencils, they were always just cheap pencils to me. In the eighties there were of course  Japanese pencils in Germany, too,  but they were usually novelty pencils, not branded pencils. Their selling point would be the unusual look, e.g. unusual patterns or colours printed on them, often metallic. Unfortunately they usually suffered from lead breakage, probably because the manufacturers did not have to try hard: Everybody who bought them did so because of how nice they looked, not because of their reputation – and since they were not branded you could not really know which ones to avoid in the future .

Shanghai's Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101

Back to my original topic: I think the Staedtler Noris can be seen as the archetype of a pencil in the UK and in Germany. In the UK the Staedtler tradition can also be seen quite often, but in both countries the Noris seems to be the pencil that is most ‘common’ and recognisable the same time.

Shanghai’s popular pencil

Last time I was in Shanghai I was trying find the Shanghainese equivalent by looking for the most common pencil in everyday life. I expected it would be the Chung Hwa 6151, just because it was a Shanghainese pencil you come across in stationery blogs or web sites, but I never really saw the 6151 in the wild. Instead I came across the Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 again and again. Employees in supermarkets used it to make notes. Waiters in restaurants used it to take orders. It just seemed to be the most common pencil in Shanghai. If there are any reader who know or live in Shanghai and disagree please let me know. I would like to know what your experience is.

China First Pencil Company Ltd.

Before I go into more detail about this pencil I would like to talk about the manufacturer, Chung Hwa, first. There are many Chinese companies and products in different and unrelated industry sectors that are called Chung Hwa: there are Chung Hwa cigarettes, cars, there is Chung Hwa cognac, ink, etc. As far as I can tell these companies have usually no connection except the common name. Chung Hwa (PinYin: ZhongHua) does translate as ‘China’ but not in the normal sense, i.e. when you talk about the country, but in a cultural or literary sense.

The Chung Hwa pencil company traces it roots back to 1935. It changed the name a few times and today’s official name is China First Pencil Company Ltd. They manufacture graphite, colour and cosmetic pencils as well as pencil related stationery and machines for the pencil industry.

Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101

Prices for a pack of 10 Chung Hwa 101 Drawing pencils start at 6.50 RMB (97¢, 61p, 70c) but usually they are quite a bit higher. The look of this pencil seems to have changed dramatically over time: In the past there was one version of this pencil (i.e. same name and model number) that  looked like a typical Mars Lumograph copy. The article number of Chung Hwa’s pencil with the Mars Lumograph look (Google translation of the linked page) has however changed from 101 to 111, and you can sometimes even find this pencil in supermarkets in the West.

Today the Chung Hwa Drawing pencil‘s body has a dark green body colour with a light green pattern of bamboo leaves and totems printed over it. The pencil is hexagonal without a painted cap and is labelled on three sides. The wood used is rather red, but does not seem to be the Vatta wood (Macaranga Peltata) mention in a previous blog post. Two sides are labelled in white, one in white and gold. As far as I know the Chung Hwa 101 should be available 6H – H, F, HB, H – 6H. Despite my best efforts I was however unable to find this pencil in F, so I bought one pack in HB and one in H.

…compared to the Staedtler Noris

Since this pencil seems to be Shanghai’s everyday pencil I thought it would be a good idea to compare it to what I think is the UK’s and Germany’s everyday pencil, the Staedtler Noris, as explained earlier. Let’s start by looking at the finish. I like the fact that you can see the wood grain through the paint, but on the 101 the paint has not been applied as well as on the Noris. This applies to both the dark green base and the light green pattern. The Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 in HB is also not as soft and smooth as a Noris HB. It is not yet scratchy and certainly  not worse than an average pencil. The graphite is not too reflective and does not smudge, so keeping the price in mind the 101 HB is very good value for money. The 101 in H is also very good for the price, but compared to the Noris in H it is much softer, more like an F grade pencil.

Conclusion

The Chun Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 offers very good value for money. It is not really a great pencil that can compete with good pencils, but it is definitely better than the average no name pencil and better than many cheap branded pencils.




As usual: the paper that can be seen in the comparison photo of this blog post is the Bloc Rhodia Nº 13.