Made in China


Back to school, sci-fi style

In many countries back to school offers have arrived in the shops. Why not do back to school in style: Sci-Fi style – with The Wandering Earth-themed stationery.

The Wandering Earth is a novella from Liu Cixin and also a Sci-Fi movie based on the novella. As far as I know the movie can be watched on Netflix in many countries.

I first came across Liu Cixin though his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy – when the first book The Three-Body Problem was dramatised for a German radio station. A year later the dramatisation of the trilogy’s next book The Dark Forest was broadcast on the same radio station. By that time I was so hooked that I didn’t want to wait another year so I read the English version of the final book of the trilogy (or rather I let my phone read me the ebook on my work to and from work).

M&G, a Shanghainese stationery manufacturer that made several previous appearances on bleistift.blog, approached Frant Gwo, the director of The Wandering Earth movie for this cooperation.

Grant Gwo

The Morning Light Award Series won the iF award in 2019.

The Morning Light Award Series

The Morning Light Star Universe Series is the girly high-end stationery from the Wandering Earth stationery.

The Morning Light Star Universe Series

There’s also the Morning Light Flavour Series.

The Morning Light Flavour Series

The images in this blog post has been taken from an M&G post and fall under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Chung Hwa in the News 1

Today’s edition of China Daily has a few very nice photos taken in Shanghai’s Chung Hwa factory.

Image © IC / China Daily

You can see all of the photos at

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201906/10/WS5cfdcd8ea310176577230489_1.html


You might also like the following blog posts about Chung Hwa

2012: Chung Hwa 6151
2012: Chung Hwa 6903
2019: Ordering Food? There’s a Pencil for that…

The image in this blog post has been taken from the China Daily web site. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Ordering Food? There’s a Pencil for that… 1

The Chung Hwa Drawing Pencil 101 is still the pencil of choice in Shanghainese Dim Sum Restaurants.

In the nicer dim sum places, like here in a branch of Sue Hsiao Liu, they are of course also nicely sharpened.

If you wonder where they come from or how many a restaurant would keep: here’s this branch’s ‘secret’ stash of sharpened Chung Hwas, ready for the customers.


If you want to read more about Chung Hwa pencils – here’s a selection of related blog posts form around the web.

The 101:

Other Chung Hwa Pencils:


Copic Copies (and Lego Notebooks)

Another one of those ‘there’s a good offer in the UK’ blog posts, so the following might be of limited interest if you are not in the UK.

My first (and only) set of Copic markers is from the Nineties. Back then a friend told me about them and after hearing about their miraculous properties I really wanted to try them out. Back then, like today, they were not cheap. As far as I remember I paid around 20 Deutschmarks for each of them1. Well, they did and still do a nice job, but they usually bleed through the paper, maybe because they are alcohol based, so the reverse of the sheet of paper will look nearly as ‘stained’ as the front.

They certainly keep well over the years, my Copics all still work well. Just one of them had some of the ‘ink’ leak a bit into the cap, but that can be cleaned easily. If they ever dry out you can refill them.

Why did I mentioned them?

When we went grocery shopping this weekend I saw that Aldi in the UK sells a whole pack of what looks like Copic copies for less than the price of one real Copic marker. It seems a good offer, but I can’t comment on the quality of the pens.

✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎

..and here a little bonus I found in the local Lego shop: Lego notebooks, reduced from £10 to £6. I assume the offers are similar in different Lego shops, but I can’t be sure.

In case you wonder, I bought neither the Copic copies, not the Lego notebook.

  1. As a comparison, as far as I remember a casual job paid around 10 DM/h at the time and video and computer games were around 60 DM at the time []

Tiger’s Blackwing 15

You might have noticed that it’s been very quiet here on Bleistift. That’s not because I lost interest in pencils, but because my job has been keeping me more than busy. Just in case you wonder – no: I didn’t change jobs and didn’t get promoted. In the past, there were up to fifteen blog posts a month, but for now, probably up to and including January there won’t be many blog posts. I might also have to suspend the Pencil Pot of the Month series for now. A shame as it has been running continuously for exactly 24 months – the two years from October 2015 until September 2017. I will, however, try to give occasional life signs every now and then, like I do today, until blogging can resume again as usual.

Since we’re talking about the Pencil Pot of the Month: the one from August 2016 was from the Danish chain ‘Tiger’1 which has a shop in the city where I live. The last purchase I made there was Tiger’s version of the Blackwing pencil.

Tiger’s Blackwing

In today’s ‘life sign’ I want to talk about this new Blackwing copy. If you read pencil blogs, and if you are here you do, the Blackwing probably doesn’t need any introduction. CalCedar’s remake of the Blackwing doesn’t need any introduction either. Well, now it’s not the only remake anymore. As mentioned aboveTiger, also known as Flying Tiger Copenhagen, introduced one, too.

Tiger’s Blackwing

In the introduction I wrote that I am quite busy, so am not following what’s going on in the pencil fandom (with very few exceptions). That’s why I didn’t know that there seems to be some controversy going on about the new Danish Blackwing remake. I was told that apparently, some CalCedar/Palomino Blackwing fanboys are pretty upset about there being a copy of the Blackwing. I don’t know what arguments have been made or where they have been made, but here are my initial thoughts after having used the Danish Blackwing for a while.

Ship of Theseus

We could start by talking about the Ship of Theseus and what makes the CalCedar Blackwing2 a descendant of the original, but in reality I don’t see much of a link.

Well, what happened is: the Theseus sunk. Somebody else registered another ship under the same name.

Here’s why. There used to be a pencil called Blackwing. The company behind it stopped making this pencil. The owner of the trademark didn’t renew the trademark so it lapsed. An unrelated company took the trademark and manufactured a similar looking pencil, the main similarity being the characteristic ferrule. The lead recipe is different. It’s made in a completely different country. There is no continuity, nothing that links the original and the remake except the name ..and with me being German I am automatically reminded of the German saying “names are but noise and smoke”3.

A real Blackwing and Tiger’s Blackwing

The Theseus example doesn’t apply because the original Theseus sunk. There’s a new Theseus. There’s a new Blackwing. In the end York and New York have more of a link4 than the Blackwing and the new Blackwing.

CalCedar’s contribution

My point here is: don’t complain that Tiger’s pencil is a copy of the Blackwing. The new Blackwing from CalCedar/Palomino is itself only a copy with no link to the original.

What CalCedar did do is bring a pencil (that was previously mainly known to pencileers, molyvophiles5 and molyvologues6 through anecdotes and the odd poem) to the mass market. In my 2010 blog post I wrote that the new Blackwing might become the new Moleskine. With its price tag I think it must have an even higher profit margin than a Moleskine – and like the Moleskine you can now buy the new Blackwing on the high street in the UK. Something the original Blackwing never achieved. I guess that’s the power of marketing – you create a link to something greater in people’s mind and make it a Veblen good. People who wouldn’t have bought 3B, 4B, 5B pencils in the past are happy to pay a premium and because of the characteristic ferrule it’s easy to show off that it’s a posh pencil.

 Tiger’s Blackwing

With that in mind, I think the Danish Blackwing is as much a modern Blackwing as the CalCedar one. Actually, I like it even more than the CalCedar remake, because it actually keeps the point. Something I don’t like about the Palomino Blackwing, as explained earlier. If you write small with Tiger’s Blackwing you don’t have to sharpen it every few words often. Ok, the wood on the Danish7 one doesn’t look as good, but I can buy 4 for £1, so 12 are £3, whereas 12 CalCedar ones are £29.95 in the UK, nearly exactly ten times as expensive. For such a price difference I take the one that keeps the point ..and is therefore usable for my purposes8 any day.

PS: What a shame that Tiger didn’t put 602 in the item or barcode number, then I could have referred to the Tiger Blackwing as a 602.


If you want to find out more about the Blackwing and its history visit the Blackwing Pages.

 

  1. Outside our store is labelled Tiger, but the in-store newsletter refers to the company as Flying Tiger Copenhagen []
  2. ..which I will refer to as the new Blackwing []
  3. apparently this saying is from Goethe []
  4. They used to be ruled by the same empire []
  5. Someone passionate about pencils (see this post) []
  6. A student of pencils (see this post) []
  7. ..but Made in China []
  8. Your mileage may vary. If you are an artist you might be after a different pencil than me. []