Engrenages


Un crayon français 2

Season Seven of French police procedural and legal drama series Engrenages (English: Spiral) doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the Staedtler Noris. In a previous blog post I showed the judge’s (juge Roban’s) Staedtler Noris and the police’s Staedtler Tradition. This time the protagonist, police officer Laure Berthaud, played by Caroline Proust, is using a Staedtler Noris. Good choice!

Laure Berthaud’s Noris (Image © Son et Lumière)

This Noris sighting has been added to the Noris in the wild page.

I believe that the use of the screenshot, taken from Engrenages Season 7 Episode 3 falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


A Franconian Noris

Franconia Day

This weekend is Franconia Day (Tag der Franken) again, so I thought this blog post should feature some Franconia pencils – in the wild.

Juge Robin's pencil

Juge Roban’s pencil (Image © Son et Lumière)

Engrenages

According to Wikipedia “only two European regions continue to be associated with the Franks”1:

  • Franconia – to link this blog post to Franconia: it’s where the pencils in the following pictures were probably made (unless they were old stock)
  • and Île-de-France where the pencils in the following pictures were being filmed.

Juge Roban's pencil

Juge Roban’s pencil (Image © Son et Lumière)

These screenshots have been taken from Engrenages, where they used to use the BIC Matic last season.

While the magistrate is using Staedtler’s Noris the police is using the Tradition:

Staedtler tradition

Staedtler tradition (view in full resolution to see the pencil) (Image © Son et Lumière)

The Game and Clifton

Meanwhile, on the other side of the channel. Actually, not meanwhile, but kind of 40 years earlier: MI5’s Alan Montag is using a Staedtler Noris. There are a lot of pencils in the series, but usually they are unidentifiable yellow/orange pencils. For a few minutes I thought Joe Lambe’s accent is Irish until I realised it’s one of the different types of Scouse2.

Alan Montag listening in with a Noris

Alan Montag listening in with a Noris (Image © BBC Cymru)

The previous screenshot is from the great TV series “The Game” – from 2014, but set in the 1970s. In contrast here’s an MI5 pencil from the real 1970s – from the story Atout…coeur! / Hartkloppingen! from Franco-Belgian comic series Clifton. Burton and Taylor seems to be a reference to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the design of the pencil seems to be based on the Staedtler Lumograph.

Clifton's pencil

Clifton’s pencil (Image © Turk & De Groot)

Make me Welsh

After the BBC’s Make me a German this time: Make me Welsh. Funnily enough the TV series The Game I just mentioned was produced by BBC Cymru Wales, too. Sean told me about this programme and sent me a screenshot showing pupils using Staedtler’s Noris (very common in British schools).

Pensiliau Cymraeg

Pensiliau Cymraeg (Image © BBC Cymru)

 

Episodes

If that’t not enough Franconian pencils yet – there are plenty more in the latest season of Episodes. Episodes does again feature an extremely high density of Noris pencils per episode. I’ll skip the screenshot though as it would be virtually indistinguishable from the last one I posted.

 

Noris in the wild

To celebrate what is probably my favourite pencil, the Noris, I have put together a page from the different Noris in the wild blog posts, which can be found here.

Franken Bleistift


I would like thank Sean for the Make me Welsh screenshot.

I believe that the use of the screen shots, taken from Engrenages, The Game, Clifton and Make me Welsh falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. I’m not sure whether this claim is true, but nevertheless I’ll just repeat it here []
  2. I should have recognised it earlier …a few years ago I had a student with a very similar accent []

The BIC Matic Classic 0.7mm 15

BIC Matic Classic

Introduction

Today: A mechanical pencil from France, the BIC Matic Classic 0.7mm. Probably their most simple pencil1. It’s main advantages, according to the packaging (click on the images of the packaging to enlarge, the thumbnails are rather small):

  • No need to sharpen and
  • Writes 2x nore than a graphite pencil.

 

Value for money

In April I bought a pack with three pencils in my local Morrisons (a supermarket chain from the North of England) for £1.50 (~$2.30; €1.75). £1.50, that’s very cheap – per pencil it’s cheaper than a typical, branded woodcased pencil. If you by the Matic in bulk you can get it even cheaper (i.e. ridiculously cheap). Other lead diameters (0.5 mm and 0.9 mm) and other looks (e.g. a girly, dotted version) are also available.

Matic Colours

 

About the BIC Matic

BIC Matic ClassicThe clip colours of the “default version” currently on sale in Europe remind  me very much of Lamy’s limited edition colours Aquamarine and Lime2. The colours used for the clips seem to have changed since this pencil has been reviewed by Pencil Revolution and Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, but the reason for the colour change might be geographical rather than temporal. I haven’t used this pencil in the past, but my pencils’ erasers perform very well, unlike Dave’s specimens. This could indicate that the quality of the eraser might have improved …or the quality of the eraser might vary depending on the origin of the pencil3.

These pencils don’t seem to be as common in the UK or Germany as they are in the USA or New Zealand …or France, I noticed this pencil in the French TV series Spiral (Engrenages).

Tintin using a BIC Matic (Image © Son et Lumière)

Tintin using a BIC Matic (Image © Son et Lumière)

I’ve often seen similar looking, but different, pencils with a similar grip section supplied as no name stationery in offices or supplied as freebies usually with company logos printed on them, but the BIC Matic isn’t a common sight here.

The Matic and the Noris

Looking at them my first thought was that they’d be uncomfortable to hold because they are so slim, but actually they aren’t. With more than 8.0 mm at the grip section and more than 7.5 mm at the at the body their diameter is bigger than that of typical hexagonal pencils (7 mm edge to edge, 7.5 mm vertex to vertex).

 

Writing 2x moreWrites 2x more

What about the claim that this pencil writes 2x more than a graphite pencil? This might be an accurate claim for many users, but will largely depend on how you use your pencils4). The length of the three leads per Matic added together is twice the length of the lead in a woodcased pencil. The “2x claim” is actually the same on the 0.5 mm and on the 0.9 mm version of BIC’s mechanical pencil, so it’s probably based on the overall length of the leads provided.

In reality your use would determine how much of the graphite you’re actually using. If you sharpen your woodcased pencil a lot you might not even use all of the central 0.7 mm of the lead, but if you don’t sharpen that often and rotate the pencil you might be using more than the central 0.7 mm of your pencil’s lead.

Arnaud, the intern, using a BIC Matic (Image © Son et Lumière)

Arnaud, the intern, using a BIC Matic (Image © Son et Lumière)

 

Want to double the 2x more?

If you see the statement “writes 2x more” as a personal challenge that you want to top this paragraph will explain what you need to do to double the BIC Matic‘s 2x writing with a normal, woodcased pencil. The trick is to use as much of the central part of the lead as possible. The central part you use should have a diameter of at least 1 mm. Done? Congratulations. You have now used twice as much of the lead (0.385 mm3 per mm of lead for the Matic compared to 0.785 mm3 for the woodcased pencil). In the following picture you can see a Black feet Indian Pencil with a diameter of more than 1 mm for the “unused” part of the “lead cone”. By rotating the pencil after every few words of writing the average writer should easily be able to produce a line of about 0.4 mm width, or even less if you rotate the pencil more often.  You also wouldn’t want to waste graphite when sharpening, so if you really want to increase your use the graphite you could a sharpener with a point adjuster to avoid removing graphite from the central part of the lead5. A suitable sharpener is the Deli 0668 – other sharpeners with point adjusters are available from DUX, M+R, Dahle, Carl and other manufacturers. Finally, to avoid wasting the last few centimetres of the pencil: use a pencil extender.

Blackfeet point

There’s another argument in favour of the woodcased pencil: the typical mechanical pencil can’t use the last centimetre or so of a lead, just because of the way the grip mechanism works. You can find more information about this at Lexikaliker. Thanks to Sean‘s help I got my hand on a few Staedtler Integrity pencils a few years ago. The Integrity wastes less then 2 mm of the lead (the Matic wastes about 11 mm)6.

Laure using an orange notepad (Image © Son et Lumière)

Précédemment dans Engrenages: Laure using an orange notepad (Image © Son et Lumière)

Since I mentioned Engrenages before and this blog post has a French theme: Laure, the main character in Engrenages is using an orange notepad, but unfortunately it’s none of the three I have shown in this blog (except the Rhodia there’s the Carrefour one and the Oxford one). I wonder how many how many people in France use the BIC Matic and how many different orange A7 notepads there are in France …

 


Price: April 2013

Exchange rates: June 2013

I’d like to thank Sean for the Blackfeet Indian Pencil seen in this blog post.

The screenshots in this blog post have been taken from episode 7 and episode 9 of the third season of Son et Lumière’s Engrenages. I believe that the use of the screenshots shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

  1. On the high-end of BIC’s spectrum you’d find the BIC AI and the BIC Rondo, which has been removed from local shops and from their catalogue, so I assume you will only be able to get the Ballgraf version from now on. []
  2. The Lamy pens in these colours sell extremely well and are sought after. The BIC colours don’t match the Lamy colours exactly, but without a direct comparison they look pretty similar. []
  3. It seems to be produced (or has been produced) in at least four different countries. []
  4. I’m taking the softness of the lead out of the equation. The provided lead seems to be a standard lead which behaves like many other HB leads []
  5. A great discussion of the percentage of graphite used in a woodcased pencil can be found at Lexikaliker. []
  6. Unfortunately I didn’t succeed in using the Integrity to use up short bits of lead, feeding it already short bits of lead doesn’t really work []