Just a quick blog post for today’s 12th anniversary of the Bleistift blog:
One of Count Alexander von Faber-Castell’s estates, Wolfgangshof, maybe five miles from Faber-Castell’s headquarters, was recently used as the backdrop for a TV show about Franconian folk music (as far as I know the first TV show of its kind).
There doesn’t seem to be any geoblocking going on as I can watch this video here in the UK without problems. It is available from the BR Mediathek (from Bavaria’s public-service radio and television broadcaster).
Count Alexander von Faber-Castell was the first “Faber-Castell” Count – before his marriage he was known as Count Alexander zu Castell-Rüdenhausen.
Today: a look at the Faber-Castell Grip 2011 mechanical pencil. Many years ago I bought a gel pen from the 2011 series. Unfortunately Faber-Castell stopped this gel pen and their gel refills, but there are good alternatives available.
Just like the 2001, the Faber-Castell wood-cased grip pencil, the 2011 has a triangular design with rubbery grip dots and I have read in the past that this series of triangular gip-dotted pens was a big success and saved Faber-Castell from many headaches.
Availability and price
I paid around £10 for my grass green version at PurePens. From what I can tell these are easily available in many European counties and I have seen them in high-street stores in Germany and the UK. In the USA the situation is different: I had a look to see how much they are in the USA, but I only found one place that sells them: Amazon Marketplace – for $18.
Shape and grip
I have already mentioned the main deign feature: the triangular design with rubbery grip dots.
As always, different people buy a specific pen for different reasons. I bought the 2011 mechanical pencil so that my blue gel pen from this series has company. Other make that decision to help them write without pain: a previous colleague of mine only had items from the Faber-Castell grip line in his office. When I asked him about the reasons behind this he told me that he has carpal tunnel syndrome and that it is easier for him to write with pens from the Grip line. He only used pens from this Faber-Castell series and instead of typing on his keyboard he used dictation software. I don’t know enough about this syndrome to comment further, but it sounds as if Faber-Castell’s grip design can help people to write easier or with less pain.
Weight and the grip diameter to weight ratio
Another speciality of this mechanical pencil is the low weight, probably partly down to the clutch mechanism I will mention later. As seen in the diagram below the 2011 mechanical pencil is very much on the light side.
If you don’t only want a light pencil, but also a big grip diameter then it’s worth looking at the diameter to weight ratio. Here the Grip 2011 is near the top, with a ratio 2.5 times better than some other pencils, like the TWSBI precision. Only the the Staedtler 925-15 is doing better, thanks to its low weight and its big diameter, but it does have a slightly thinner grip diameter. The only pencil in my database with a similar grip diameter to the Grip 2011 is the Caran d’Ache 888 Infinite.
The main disappointment for many seasoned mechanical pencil fans will be the Grip 2011’s clutch mechanism: it is a very simple two-jawed plastic clutch. That’s not a problem, but many mechanical pencileers prefer a brass mechanism. Generally speaking very cheap mechanical pencils, like Staedtler’s $1 graphite 777, will come with plastic clutches, but there are also much more expensive mechanical pencils than the 2011, like the Rhodia ScRipt, that have plastic clutches.
If you want a mechanical pencil that can hold a lot of leads then the Grip 2011 might also be for you: 0.7 mm leads usually have a diameter of less than 0.7 mm. The inner diameter of the Grip 2011 is 6.75 mm. If you look at the circle packing in a circle problem you will realise that this pencil can hold a huge number of leads.
The clutch will put many potential customers off, but with it’s low wide, its good grip-ability, the above average looks and the reasonable price this pencil will have no issues finding enough customers.
A few weeks ago David from Helping Hands Craft contacted me. He asked me if I want to review any of their products. I wasn’t aware of their shop before he contact me but was quite impressed by their selection of Faber-Castell products. As a review item I picked the Goldfaber pencil set for £4.50. Looking through their Faber-Castell items I was positively surprised to see other unusual items, for example
the Faber-Castell’s erasing knife. In the past I couldn’t find this one anywhere in the UK, so Gunther sent me one from Germany,
The Goldfaber pencils are made in Indonesia, just like the Columbus, its Irish cousin, and the Bonanza, its Arabic The Bonanza used to be more widely available, but seems to be difficult to get outside the Middle East cousin. The pencil set is marked as being Made in Germany, so I was initially surprised and thought Goldfaber production has moved back to Germany, but when I checked with Faber-Castell they confirmed that this is a mistake and that they will fix this in the future. They have also confirmed that the Goldfaber is made in Indonesia. Unfortunately that’s as far as I got. My further request to get my suspicion regarding the wood being used confirmed was not successful.
The Goldfaber 1221 pencil is a nice writer. It is HB but writes darker than a Castell 9000 in B. I am not surprised though – I always found the 9000 to be lighter than similar grades in other pencils. Pearson’s Graphite 2015 confirms this, the Goldfaber HB is listed with a darkness of 12, the Castell 9000 B with a darkness of 8 higher value = darker. The wood being used in the Goldfaber is also very good. For the price you pay the quality is excellent, but it can’t compete with high-end pencils from Faber-Castell or other brands. Out of the four pencils from the set one is slightly bent, two could have a better centred lead and all four don’t have a perfect paintjob. These small shortcomings don’t detract from the positive impression left by the dark graphite and the nice wood, especially not at this price Eraser and sharpener are approximately half the value of the £4.50. There was also a faint smell of paint when the Goldfabers were fresh out of the box, something Faber-Castell’s Castell 9000 with its water-based varnish doesn’t suffer from, but the smell disappeared after a while.
Sharpener and eraser
The German-made sharpener, presumably an Eisen 040, does an excellent job, as does my favourite eraser, the Malaysian-made 187120, a dust free / no dust eraser.
Overall, this is a very nice pencil set, especially if you want a nice eraser and want a small sharpener and don’t need it to be a container sharpener.
Just to spell it out, I have not been paid for this blog post or for any other blog posts.
Bleistift Blog is wishing you all the best for 2020.
If you want to start the new year with new mechanical pencils (from Caran d’Ache, Faber-Castell, Lamy and BIC) you still have a few days left to take part in the Stationery Wiki:Mechanical Pencil Day Contest 2019 (..if you read this blogpost on the day it was published).