Cult Pens


IKEA’s pencil book

Caroline Weaver’s pencil book has been the big topic in the stationery fandom. As there’s nothing much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said publicly or privately here’s a look at another pencil book.

You might remember my blog post about Ikea’s huge pencil soft toy (or is it some kind of pillow?) from last year, or my blog post about another item from IKEA – to store Field Notes the Swedish way. Today’s blog post about IKEA again, specifically about a pencil themed children book they sell: Let’s Go Says The Pencil.

Part of a drawing from one of the book’s pages

This was in the IKEA store in Warrington1. They also have a pencil themed area for children to try out their products.

Oh, while you are here anyway, something not IKEA related: I noticed that CultPens is now selling the black Mars Technico 780C I showed in the Insights X blog post.

Staedtler Mars technico


If you want to see more IKEA related stationery blog posts have a look at the ones found at Lexikaliker (in German) or the ones from Pencil Revolution. The Pencil Case Blog even had a three part series about IKEA stationery.

  1. ..which was the first IKEA in the UK []

Staedtler’s posh pencil and Atoma’s posh notebook 12

Expensive pencil purchases

There are two pencil purchases I’ve been thinking about for a while. One of them is a Rotring 800+, but with a price tag of more than £40 I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy it yet1.

Every now and then I check whether I find a good offer for this pencil in online stores, on Amazon and on eBay. Earlier this week I was just checking CultPens again (so far they have been the cheapest store for the Rotring 800+ when taking postage  into account) when I saw an offer I couldn’t resist: Lots, really lots, of ‘free’ items if you buy a Staedtler Initium pen.

 

cultpens-initium

So many ‘free’ add-ons…

The Atoma leather notebook

The most tempting of these ‘free’ add-ons was Atoma’s Leather notebook2. Most tempting for two reasons:

  • I am using my Atoma notebooks on a daily basis, at work and at home, and I really like it
  • and I really like the look and the graceful ageing of tanned leather3

…so this notebook was the reason why I went ahead and ordered the Staedtler Initium pencil.

I think I was probably even more interested than I otherwise would have been because of the recent flood of blog posts about William Hannah’s similar notebook after they sent free samples and discounted samples to many bloggers4.

Drool, so much nice stationery

Drool, so much nice stationery

Staedtler’s premium line

I do love Staedtler products, you might have noticed that this blog has more articles about Staedtler than about any other manufacturer5 but so far I haven’t been very excited about their foray into the world of more expensive stationery, their Initium line. Based on the photos I have seen online I think the Initium fountain pens look like cheap ‘own brand’ pens from a high street stationery chain – I might revise my opinion when I see one in reality, though, photos can be deceptive. The pencil on the other hand looks nice to me, but maybe not >£60 nice. So I went with the mechanical pencil instead. On the photos it looks better than the fountain pen, but I couldn’t really imagine how the clip works – is there a spring like in the Lamy 2000?

staedtler-atoma2

Arrived!

Well, my purchase has arrived now, I just unpacked the items. First impression: The body of the Staedtler pencil looks a bit more plasticy than expected, but overall it looks good. The Atoma leather notebook looks just amazingly beautiful!

staedtler-atoma1

I’m very much looking forward to trying all the items out.

staedtler-atoma3

 


You can read more about Atoma in my 2012 blog post about this system.

  1. I guess I should buy it. In a recent Pen Addict podcast they were talking about a similar situation https://www.relay.fm/penaddict/204 , it all reminds me of a Bavarian movie called ‘The sooner you die, the longer you are dead’ []
  2. Mady by Belgium’s Ruitertassen. []
  3. Think Yo no bi, which reminds me: I just hope my Rustico notebook doesn’t get too dark over time, but based on experience with a leather bag I think I will be fine []
  4. including Scribble, Philofaxy, Pen Paper Pencil and Gourmet Pens []
  5. So fat there are 50 Staetdler articles. Faber-Castell, the number two only has  39 articles at Bleistift. []

Scraping pencils 1

Pencils not only seem to be reliable writers, they also seem to be reliable in terms of keeping their prices affordable.

In June this year I used R to do some web scraping. The data collected was supposed to be for a follow up of my Why did stationery become so expensive? blog post. Well, this is the follow up blog post and there isn’t much to show, maybe because we are talking about wood cased pencils. Fountain pens and mechanical pencils had a more extreme price development.

I did the R code not only for the follow up, but also to teach myself a bit more R, I would have normally done this in PHP, which I am more failure with, having used it since the 90s and having used it for similar tasks in the past (even though people didn’t call these tasks web scraping at that time, or if they did I did’t know).

chart showing how the Koh-I-Noor PolyColor Art Pencil prices have changed.So what exactly did I do? I was looking at how the prices for pencils have changed on the Cultpens web site over time. My code that will get historic prices from archived versions of the Cult Pens pencil web page from archive.org is available at GitHub if you want to try it or change it for your own purposes. If you do please bear in mind that my code is not very good, I realise this, but as I am new to R I don’t know how to improve it (at the moment – I hope to find more time to learn R in the future). Also, if you try this please try to minimise any strain on the server you get your data from.

The findings were less exciting than expected. VAT has changed a few times over the last few years and there are obviously currency exchange rate fluctuations to be taken into account, as well as inflation and other factors.

The most interesting changes I could see was a > 10% price increase for some Graf von Faber-Castell products between 2010 and 2011.

The  Tomboy Mono 100 got cheaper over the years. Between 2010 and 2013 it got > 20% cheaper.

The most extreme price rise was for Koh-I-Noor products. At the beginning of 2014 the big Polycolor Art Pencil tin got nearly 40% more expensive, smaller tins got more expensive, too.

Overall prices seem remarkably stable.

As mentioned before I assume the price stability is also linked to this being pencils. As shown in my previous blog post fountain pens seem to attract more extreme price hikes.


Picture: Mongol plus Pilot Color Eno pencils on Brunnen Der Grüne Block.


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 []