Made in Germany


Faber-Castell Grip 2011 1

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.

Now with a cool hologram sticker

Properties

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.

The Grip 2011 is pretty light

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.

Mechanism

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.

Lead capacity

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.

Conclusion

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.

If you want to find out about the fountain pen version have a look at the Well-Appointed Desk’s review.


Faber-Castell’s Goldfaber pencil set 2

Helping Hands

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 Goldfaber pencil set

Back to the less exotic Faber-Castell item I want to write about today: The Goldfaber set contains

  • 4 Goldfaber HB pencils,
  • a sharpener (presumably from Eisen [1]an underrated sharpener brand I have been occasionally mentioning over the last twelve years),
  • and the big version of my favourite eraser [2]find out more in this 2010 blog post.

The Goldfaber pencils are made in Indonesia, just like the Columbus, its Irish cousin, and the Bonanza, its Arabic [3]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.

Goldfaber 1221

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 [4]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 [5]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.

A video with an overview

Conclusion

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.

References

References
1an underrated sharpener brand I have been occasionally mentioning over the last twelve years
2find out more in this 2010 blog post
3The Bonanza used to be more widely available, but seems to be difficult to get outside the Middle East
4higher value = darker
5Eraser and sharpener are approximately half the value of the £4.50

Fake Lumographs 3

I get why there is a market for fake luxury pens, but creating fake versions of affordable pens seems rather ridiculous. In this case the pencil being copied costs less than £1. Yes, you could argue that £1 is much more than what you’d pay for a no name pencil …but if you think about how long a pencil lasts (when you use it the way it is supposed to be used [1]i.e. writing or drawing on paper, I mention this because if you use pencils e.g. to mark wood it won’t last very long, so a Lumograph might not be the best choice for that) then I have to say that the Lumograph is excellent value for money. You can enjoy writing with an excellent pencil for weeks or months for much less than what a coffee costs on the high street.

top: real, bottom: fake

Bleistift blog reader Koralatov made me aware that fake Lumographs are being sold on eBay and I couldn’t resist ordering a pack to have a closer look.

The fake Lumographs next to a ‘real product’ in a Staedtler Box

Differences

The box

The fake Lumographs come in a Staedtler Box. In Europe the Lumograph usually not being sold in this box, but, and this was new to me, Staedtler confirmed that in Asia you can actually buy the Lumograph in this box.

Some of the information on the box doesn’t make sense for a graphite pencil. The lead protection that is being mentioned on the box (the triangular red logo you can see on the photo above) is a technology that is being used for coloured pencils, not for graphite pencils, so certainly has no place on Lumograph packaging.

The floppy fake Staedtler box compared to a robust real Staedtler box

The pencils

The wood being used is very(!) different to the one being used for real Lumographs. It is very pale, we’re talking basswood pale or even more pale.

The hardness is only printed on one side of the end of the pencil instead of being printed on all sides. Some pencils don’t have the hardness printed at all and for most pencils the indentation around the hardness is very deep, as if they have been stamped too hard.

top: real, bottom: fake

The fake pencils are being sold as Chinese made factory seconds. Staedtler does produce the Lumograph in Asia, but it is made in Indonesia with German Leads. The real Indonesian Lumograph pencils are marked with “German Lead” instead of “Made in Germany” and use cheaper wood, like Jelutong. They are also sold in other Asian markets, as seen at this link.

top: fake, bottom: real – notice the different wood colour

Suffice to say that these fake Lumographs are very scratchy, even the soft degrees, and are not nice to use at all.

Since we’re talking about pencils: Here’s a bonus link for you: It’s a Dutch music album called Bleistift from 1981:
https://www.discogs.com/Bleistift-Bleistift/release/1914478 – I wonder how it sounds like. I assume it’ll sound quite different to the Pencil Revolution song.

References

References
1i.e. writing or drawing on paper, I mention this because if you use pencils e.g. to mark wood it won’t last very long, so a Lumograph might not be the best choice for that

Caran d’Ache 849 Claim Your Style 3

The latest addition to my Caran d’Ache 849 Claim Your Style collection has arrived. I couldn’t resist getting a turquoise one myself after getting one for my wife earlier this year and seeing how beautiful the colour looks. To properly claim it as my style it is again engraved with a computer-related font. The Pen Company did another excellent job with their free engraving. I’m also always amazed how quick they are. I ordered it in the afternoon and it arrived the next morning, engraved exactly how I wanted it.

Funnily enough, just this week The Well-Appointed Desk just posted a review of the 849 in exactly this colour. The Pen Addict also reviewed this colour in the past.

I fed my new 849 with Schneider’s Slider 755 XB – extra broad and blue. A very smooth refill that offers a lot of line variation compared to normal ballpoint refills, but that, of course, doesn’t lay done a line quite as nice and saturated as a gel refill.

Last year I made two videos about the 849 which might be of interest to you.

One about using gel refills…

…and one that is more generic.


More student colours

After seeing Brad’s tweet about the new Kaweco Student colours, see below..

.. I couldn’t resist showing you my Kawecco Student 70s Soul again.

I have more fountain pens than I dare to admit and love EF nibs. The Soul has the smoothest and ‘finest’, in both senses of the word, EF nib of all my fountain pens.

PS: Nice naming scheme, Kaweco.