giveaway


Reidinger magnetic pencil & giveaway 10

You might recognise the name Reidinger from Lexkaliker’s blog. He wrote about their “Pencil Configurator” in one of his previous blog posts. Despite their pencil configurator, Reidinger is not really a pencil manufacturer but is selling pencils, including carpenter pencils, and folding rules as promotional gifts.

The magnet

Good it's not a CRT...

One of their products is a magnetic pencil, which I got sent by Mr Lorber earlier this month, together with some of Reidinger’s crystal pencils1. It is a black wood pencil with a neodymium magnet at the end. Unlike Viarco’s or Lexikaliker’s version the magnet is hidden by a metal sleeve and is not directly visible. A metal disc is available and comes with one of the magnetic pencil sets, for sticking to non-metallic surfaces so that the pencil can be placed there. The disc is however not magnetic. A quick attempt to magnetise the disc using the magnetic pencil was unsuccessful (I was hoping to magnetise the disc to be able to use it for Eberhard Faber’s Microtomic or General’s Kimberly pencils). You might know that neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets available and I have to say it is pretty amazing how much these pencils “stick” and what you can do with them: if you can connect two pencils at the end you can swing them around, which is pretty fun.

The pencil

Don't need the metal disc here...

The pencil itself is very good. It lays down a very dark line, is easy to erase and sharpen and is quite smooth, similar to a good pencil, like the Staedtler Tradition or Noris, but short of an excellent pencils, like the Faber-Castell Castell 9000, the Tombow Mono 100 or the Staedtler Mars Lumograph.

After talking to Mrs Morse from Reidinger I found out that many of their pencils are manufactured in Eastern Europe and are made using lime wood2 and was told that the quality of the materials has  been certified by TÜV. I am however not sure where exactly the magnetic pencils and the crystal pencils are made. I know that some of the other crystal pencils available are made in China, but to my surprise there seem to be several factories making black wood crystal pencils as Mrs Morse confirmed that their pencils are not from China. Last year my wife bought some crystal pencils from The Pen Shop. They are in her office at the moment – so I cannot check now, but I should have a look and compare them to the ones from Reidinger…

Magnetic and Crystal Pencils

Giveaway

As these magnetic pencils are promotional gifts you cannot buy them individually. I believe you have to buy at least 288 for an order, but since Mr Lorber sent me several of them I am happy to give away a pack of three crystal pencils with Swarovski elements and a magnetic pencil with a metal disc. I am happy to send the prizes to any country as long as Royal Mail doesn’t refuse to send them there. I will use random.org to get a random number and the author of the corresponding article will get the price (unless I am the author or the comment is definitely spam). To take part please leave your comments at this blog post before Sunday, 4th September 2011, 23:59 UTC.



I would like to thank

  • Mr Lorber for sending me these pencils and
  • Mrs Morse from Reidinger for providing me with more information about Reidinger’s pencils.
  • Sean from The Blackwing Pages for the Eberhard Faber Microtomic and the General’s Kimberly pencils I tried to use with the metal disc.

Related information:

 

 

  1. using Swarovski elements []
  2. American English: Linden wood []

Congratulations

Congratulations to the winners of the first Bleistift giveaway. I’ll send your prizes out first thing tomorrow morning and will also include a few other pencils I have lying around,  including the Faber-Castell 1117 and a Graf von Faber Castell pencil.

The first number I got from random.org was 20, this means Kartike E from Indonesia gets the first prize. She chose the rubber-tipped version of the Noris, the Noris 122 HB.

The next number from random.org was 16 – Palimpsest from the UK wins the Welsh-made sketching pencils.

Number 15 came next. That was a post by myself, so I requested another number from random.org instead, which was number 5: Lexikaliker from Germany. Since he already has some Staedtler Tradition 110s he was kind enough to give someone else the chance to win. Thank you! The replacement number I got was the 13, which means that Sheryl C from the USA wins the blister pack with Welsh-made Staedtler Tradition 110s.

Thanks again to all who took part. I hope the winners will receive the pencils soon.


Staedtler UK 52

The 100th post at Bleistift. I thought I should make an extra effort for this blog post, so there will be the first ever giveaway at Bleistift (oh, go on then, scroll down to find out more about the giveaway before you read the article). Today’s post will look at the history of Staedtler UK. It is a follow-up post to the Staedtler Tradition1 110 post from March 20102.

By Appointment to the Late King George V

1790 – 1920 Wolff and Cohen

Elias Wolff

The history of Staedtler in the UK seems to date back as far as 1796. As far as I can tell this was the year when Elias Wolff, aged 15, started his career as a pencil maker. In 1822 he officially started his own company and by 1840 his son was on board and the name of the company changes to Elias Wolff and Son.

Why London?

The company was based in London, which is not surprising. The UK was and is very centralised and in the past graphite mining and production was controlled by the crown. Graphite had to be transported all the way from Cumbria to London, to be sold or auctioned. Soon Flemish traders were supplying graphite to all of Europe and the Society of Mines Royal asked the family of Höchstetter to apply their Bavarian mining techniques to make mining more efficient.

Solomon Cohen

Solomon Cohen, another pencil maker, was born around the same time as Elias Wolff. When his son Barnet Solomon Cohen took the business over he started trading as B.S. Cohen. In 1919, at a time when England had some of the best pencil factories in the world, B.S. Cohen and E. Wolff and Sons merged. The name for the new company: Royal Sovereign Pencil Co.

… and Napoleon?

These were turbulent times. Elias Wolff and Solomon Cohen were born around the time of the French Revolution and worked as pencil makers while the war between Britain and France and the Napoleonic Wars were going on.

Paulus Staedtler

Paulus Staedtler, another pencil maker, was born in 1779, in Nuremberg. Turbulent times there as well: Prussia took Nuremberg over before, in 1806, Napoleon’s army gave the city to their ally Bavaria – not long before all of Franconia was annexed to Bavaria in 1815. In 1835 Paulus’ son Johann Sebastian Staedtler started his own factory, the company we know today as Staedtler.

1919 – 1992 Royal Sovereign Pencil Co

The Royal Sovereign Pencil Co started life in 1919 and was renamed to Royal Sovereign Group Ltd in 1974, just before the factories where taken over by Staedtler. Strangely enough the names Wolff and Royal Sovereign never belonged to Staedtler. I have to assume that the new Royal Sovereign company only held on to the names and maybe some other intellectual property rights, not to any hardware. As far as I can tell, based on information provided by Companies House, the United Kingdom Registrar of Companies, the company was taken over in 1987. It took me a while to figure out that the company that took over the rights to the trademarks etc must be the Dickinson Robinson Group, a company that pioneered a number of innovations in paper-making in the 19th century. In 1989 this group was then taken over by Pembridge Investments, around the same time the rest of Royal Sovereign became part on Nontradorm, before the rest of the Royal Sovereign Group was officially dissolved in 1992. The names “Wolff” and “Royal Sovereign” do however live on. A family owned business, West Design Products, somehow got hold of the rights to the names Wolff and Royal Sovereign and sell Indonesian-made pencils under this name. A first attempt at contacting West Design Products nearly twelve months ago was unfortunately left unanswered, as was a subsequent attempt, so I was not able to find out how these traditional names came into their possession and whether their pencils are made in Staedtler’s Indonesian factory.

West Design’s Wolff’s Graphite Sketch Set

1975 – 2009 from Royal Sovereign to Staedtler UK – how the pencils changed

RS Bonded

In April 1966 Royal Sovereign started to produce two different types of Staedtler pencils in Pontyclun, Wales. The early Staedtler Tradition 110 pencils made there had “RS – Bonded” printed on them. The factory still made Royal Sovereign pencils and they, too, had “RS – Bonded” printed on them. These early Staedtler Tradition pencils were pre-sharpened on the right side, i.e. looking at the pencil with the print facing up, the right side of the pencil has been sharpened. The RS Bonded version hexagonal, like all other Tradition 110s, and mainly red. The cap has the typical Staedtler look, but only the side of the pencil with the gold letter print is painted black. All other sides of the pencil are red with a thin black strip in the middle.

Bonded

The next generation of Welsh-made Tradition 110 pencils is pre-sharpened on the left, the same way as nearly all modern pencils. This means that the text on the pencil is not upside down if the pencil is held in the right hand, as was the case with the RS Bonded version. The black and red pattern changed, too, and is identical to modern Staedtler Tradition 110s. The side with the print and the opposite side are black. The other fours sides are red with a black strip between two adjacent red sides. For this generation the stamped text “RS Bonded” has been replaced with “Bonded”.

Jet Bonded

The next generation of Tradition 110 pencils was probably released around 1972, a few years before Staedtler bought the factory in Pontyclun in 1975. This is the first generation of UK Tradition 110s, where the glue has been applied by a machine. Previous version had the glue applied manually. The print changed from “Bonded” to “Jet Bonded”.

Barcode S

I am not sure whether there has been a generation3 of Tradition 110s between the previous Jet Bonded version and the next version that features a bar code. It is more than likely that this version of the Tradition 110 was released in 1990 or shortly after.

Last generation

You can still find the last generation of the Tradition 110 made in Pontyclun in some shops that have old stock. This generation was in production until the factory was closed in 2007/2008. Around the same time, in 2008/09, the rest of Staedtler UK moved to nearby Bocam Park, about five miles West of Pontyclun.

Australia

Royal Sovereign had two factories, one in Pontyclun, South Wales (UK) and one in Sydney, New South Wales (Australia) and when Staedtler took over they bought both factories.  Unfortunately, the one in Dee Why (Sydney) closed down nearly 40 years after it opened, around the same time as the one in Pontyclun. Another Staedtler plant that was closed shortly after was the one in Pahang, Malaysia. Products previously manufactured in Australia and Malaysia are now made in Thailand (pens) and Indonesia (pencils). It is a real shame that these factories had to close down.

Pencils can last a long time. On several occasions I took a whole day worth of notes using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph F without having the sharpen the pencil the whole day. In comparison some other pencils wear down really fast, a Dixon Ticonderoga for example, or most of the Korean pencils I know4. Even the ones that wear down fast are usually good value for money, the ones that last longer often cost a bit more, but are even better value for money. In a time when many consumers will buy the cheapest pencil they see in the supermarket it must be difficult for the established, high quality pencil manufacturers to keep smaller factories and factories in high wage countries alive. I hope that in the future consumers will not just buy any old, scratchy pencil, but a good one, so that these factories can stay open as long as possible.

Pencil and ballpoint pen from Staedtler UK, sharpener from KUM

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. There was more I wanted to include, but this post starts to get a bit too long, so I will write more about Staedtler’s popularity in the UK another time. If you have further information about Staedtler UK’s history or pencils, not mentioned here, or if you find any mistakes please let me know.

Giveaway

After I heard that Staedtler’s Welsh factory closed down I started buying pencils from this factory in different shops. To celebrate the 100th blog post I am giving away three prizes, they are not worth a lot (check penciltalk’s anniversary post: How much is my pencil worth? Probably nothing! …but they were made in Staedtler’s UK factory in Pontyclun).

You can win…

  • A dozen Welsh-made Staedtler Noris. You can choose between the rubber-tipped version (Noris 122 HB) or the version with the traditional Staedtler cap (Noris 120 HB)
  • A pack of six  Welsh-made sketching pencils
  • A blister pack with three Welsh-made Staedtler Tradition 110s

I am happy to send the prizes to any country as long as Royal Mail doesn’t refuse to send them there. I will use random.org to get a random number and the author of the corresponding article will get the price (unless I am the author or the comment is definitely spam, e.g. advertising for medicine, …). To take part please leave your comments before Friday, 8th July, 23:59 UTC.


I bought West Design’s Wolff’s Graphite Sketch Set in September 2010 from Granthams in Preston for £4.25 (~ $6.80; €4.70). The Sketching pencils set with six pencils (B – 6B) used to sell for £1.70 (~ $2.70; €1.90) in Granthams and for £3.70 (~ $5.90; €4.10) in Paperchase. All the old Staedtler Tradition 110 pencils are from shops in and around Lancashire. The oldest ones are from a corner shop about 200 yards from my home.

Exchange rates: July 2011

If you want to read more about Staedtler UK’s pencils…

You can find more information about…

I would like to thank my colleague and business historian, Dr. Mitch Larson, who gave me very useful information and suggested contacting Companies House, a registrar I hadn’t been in contact with for ten years.

  1. Last time I spelled Tradition lower case, as printed on the pencils, but for this post I decided to consistently start with a Capital. []
  2. A post that mentioned that Stephen Wiltshire is using the Staedtler Tradition. Twelve months later Staedtler managed to get his support for their pigment liners. []
  3. or several generations []
  4. This is not meant as complaint. These pencils have other advantages, e.g. a very dark line []

Anniversaries 9

2011 is the year Faber-Castell celebrates its 250 year anniversary (1761 – 2011). Stephen from penciltalk told me about an anniversary set of 6 Castell 9000 pencils that was for sale on eBay. Faber-Castell gave these away at this year’s Paperworld trade fair. Unlike the centennial tins with 12 and 72 pencils, this tin does not contain the normal Castell 9000 pencils you can buy in shops, but Castell 9000 pencils with 1761 – 2011 * 250 years printed on them. They are not available in shops (yet), but according to comments on Faber-Castell’s facebook page Faber-Castell seems to consider producing them for sale. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Stabilo celebrates the 40th anniversary of their Boss Highlighters. As part of this anniversary there is a giveaway from Tiger Pens, where you can win Boss mugs, and a game from Stabilo where you can win Boss mugs, USB sticks and other prizes (there are different prizes for different countries).

Stephen Wiltshire, using a Staedtler tradition, on BBC's Top Gear (Image © BBC)

Staedtler‘s  historic pencil construction kit will unfortunately not be available in shops. The good news: you can order these kits directly from Staedtler for € 5 each. You can also get Staedtler’s historic Lumograph tin (100 M12H: € 16.20), the historic Tradition tin (Nr. 110 M12H: € 14.40) and the historic Noris tin (Nr. 120 M12H: €  9.60) directly from Staedtler. All of these special items are only available while stocks last. The historic pencil construction kit is not available yet, but can already be ordered.

Staedtler also managed to get the support of Stephen Wiltshire for their pigment liner. Lexikaliker mentioned him in his report about the Paperworld 2011 and I mentioned him previously in this blog post.


The photo of Stephen Wiltshire using a Staedtler Tradition has been taken from Top Gear Episode 5 of Series 14 and has been used previously in a blog post from March 2010 about the Staedtler tradition. I believe that the use of this image falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.