If you have seen this year’s first Faber-Castell newsletterIf you haven’t seen it yet: You’ll also find an article about our pencil community’s own Sean, who is the man behind Contrapuntalism and The Blackwing Pages, in the newsletter. these two items might remind you of the fountain pen our favourite count Usual disclaimer as mentioned previously: He is not really a count. According to Part 2, Section 1, Article 109(2) of the Weimar Constitution privileges based on birth or social status and titles of … Continue reading received for his 70th birthday: the pen’s barrel looks rather similar …but is probably made from Castell 9000 pencils. Just like the Derwent pencils these two items are made in the North of England. The company behind the fridge magnet and the keyring is Zincwhite from Huddersfield I certainly won’t be able to mention Huddersfield without mentioning that Professor Sir Patrick Stewart is Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield..
Usual disclaimer as mentioned previously: He is not really a count. According to Part 2, Section 1, Article 109(2) of the Weimar Constitution privileges based on birth or social status and titles of nobility were abolished in the Weimar Republic in 1919. Graf (Count) is just part of his surname. In reality no one seems to care about this rule though. I assume this rule hasn’t been broken in the latest book about Faber-Castell, when his wife is referred to as Gräfin (Countess), because adapting the “surname” to the gender of a person seems to be permissible. As you can see, the whole issue is rather complicated.
Thank you for the anniversary comments. I was hoping to get this blog post out by 21 November, the third birthday of this blog, but unfortunately I didn’t find the time. Anyway here’s the first blog post in the fourth year of Bleistift.
Considering that I don’t live too far away from the Cumberland Pencil Museum, both the Museum and I are in North West England, it took me quite a while to get there – but this May my wife and I finally made the trip. The weather was fantastic and the Museum managed to convey a lot of information despite being rather small. Admission is £4 (~$6.40; €4.95), but comes with a ‘free’ souvenir pencil.
There were explanations how pencils are made and you could admire historic pens and pencil and machines. I will only show one photo from inside the museum as I haven’t asked whether they permit the posting of photos taken in the museum on the web.
There was a pencil labelling machine, too, but unfortunately it was broken at the time …I would have really liked to get some personalised pencils. A subsequent enquiry regarding the pencil labelling machine was not as helpful as it could have been, so I decided not to chase this up further. Maybe the machine will work again if I go there again in the future.
Obviously I couldn’t resist stocking up on pencils in the museum shop. The shop’s selection is aimed at artists, but if you use pencils for office purposes you’ll also find nice products. Pencils are from Derwent, who are running the museum, but you can find pencil related items from other brands.
One of the products I picked up in the museum is the Eisen 060Eisen changed their web site. The pages are only available in German at the moment, so unfortunately all links to Eisen are to their German product page. . I like this sharpener because the rounded corners make it “different” while still maintaining the classic wedge shape look Eisen’s classic wedge sharpener is the 040.. I paid £1 (~$1.60; €1.25). This sharpener’s body and blade were both made in Baiersdorf near Nuremberg. The 060’s produced in the last three years still feature the blade made in Baiersdorf, like all Eisen sharpeners, but the body is now made in Taicang near Shanghai. Performance of this little sharpener is very good, too.
24° – 25° I measured 25°, the official figure is 24° which is also the one I used for in the list of sharpeners
“MADE IN GERMANY” (blade); Eisen logo plus “Made in Germany” (body)
Place of Manufacture
Baiersdorf (Germany) and Taicang (China)
As this is a (belated) birthday blog post I am giving away an Eisen 060, some British-made Staedtler pencils and possible a few other small items I can find. 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 comment will get the price (unless I am the author or the comment is definitely spam). To take part please leave a comment for this blog post before Friday, 30th September 2011, 23:59 UTC.
Prices: May 2012
Exchange rates: November 2012
I would like to thank Stephan Eisen for providing additional information regarding the Eisen 060.
I found another one of the previously mentioned recycled pencils. This time in the souvenir shop of Martin Mere, a wetland nature reserve. The price was the same as what I paid at the Lancashire Science Festival: 50p (~ 78¢; 63c). Suffice to say that this one isn’t any better than the ones previously shown in this blog. As Kevin wrote in a comment, these pencils are not only not eco, but even anti-eco as they are pretty unusable when it comes to writing with them. A scorched piece of wood writes better than this pencil… This didn’t stop this pencil and the company behind it receiving several awards for it. Oh, well, at least their other, newer products look exciting, like their Saponite pencil holder.
I also bought another recycled item I have previously seen in different shops for quite a while now This pencil case must have been available in Sainsbury’s, maybe also in other supermarkets, for at least five years now.: a pencil case made from recycled car tyres. That’s definitely a better use for those old tyres than the horrible pencil made from recycled car tyres shown in another blog post. This pencil case is flexible, only smells a little bit like tyres and is nice to hold, even though it feels a bit wet and oily. I hope the material doesn’t get porous over time, but we’ll see. The case was £4.99 (~ $7.76; €6.33). You can get these slightly cheaper online – in some places these cases cost £4 each or less.
Over the last three days the first Lancashire Science Festival took place on the premises of my employer. There were some really exciting shows – and there were souvenirs.
I couldn’t resist and bought two pencils made from recycled CD cases, for 50p each (~ 78¢; 62c). When I saw them I knew they were the same kind of pencils as the red pencil, made from recycled CD cases, discussed in the Battle of the eco pencils, but I was hoping these pencils had improved over the last two years.
This hope was unfortunately misplaced. The pencil is as bad as the red one I looked at two years ago. The lead is not very dark and writing with this pencils feels rubbery, but also a bit scratchy at the same time. After my bad experience last time I didn’t use my Deli pencil sharpener 0635 for this pencil. Instead I used the Dux 9207-N sharpener, which is so sharp that it can easily cope with the hard plastic that makes up the casing, but that only makes me happy about the good sharpener and doesn’t help at all with this horrible pencil. I only know one pencil that is worse: the Ticonderoga Renew HB.
A fantastic science festival, but horrible souvenir pencils.
Price: June 2012
Exchange rates: July 2012
I would like to thank Lexikaliker for the fantastic DUX 9207-N sharpener that has been used to sharpen the pencil for the photo.
In a previous blog post I compared three Staedtler tradition 110 pencils, made in three different factories – the one in Wales, the one in Australia and the one in Germany. Today I want to look at three different Staedtler Noris 120 pencils – made in Malaysia, Wales and Germany. I bought a dozen of the Malaysian Noris in March 2010 for £2.24 (~ $3.40; €2.78) from a Malaysian seller on eBay.
The only pencil from this comparison that is still in production is the Nuremberg-made Noris. The factory in Malaysia closed down two years ago and the factory in Wales closed down four years ago. You can still find Welsh-made pencils in the UK, but there are very few shops left that still have stock. I am not sure about the situation in Malaysia, but I assume most of the Malaysian Noris are also sold by now. In a previous blog post I mentioned that 2B is the most common pencil grade in Malaysia. It is so popular in Malaysia that the Malaysian Noris is only available in 2B, therefore I’ll compare it with the Welsh and German Noris in 2B.
The colour of the Noris cap normally indicates the pencil grade. The HB Noris has a red cap. Strangely enough the cap colour is not consistent. The older Welsh and Malaysian 2B Noris have black caps, while the newer German Noris, bought in April 2012 at Müller in Volkach, Germany for €0.59 (~ $0.73; £0.47), has an orange cap, similar, but a slightly lighter in colour than the orange cap of a Welsh Noris B.
Which eraser could be most suitable to sharpen a Noris? None other than the Staedtler Noris sharpener, of course. Bought at Currys / PC World in Preston, when they tried to get rid of their stationery in December 2011 this sharpener was part of a ‘study set’ that came with 2 Noris HB, one Staedtler Mars plastic eraser and the Staedtler Noris sharpener for £1.17 (~ $1.79; €1.45). The blister pack says “Made in Germany”, but the wedge sharpener in the Noris sharpener is made in China, or at least the the metal body of the sharpener inside is. I wonder why Staedtler put a metal sharpener in there. Most people probably wouldn’t notice and Staedtler sells plastic sharpeners with the same form factor that could have been used in the Noris sharpener to keep the price down…
The bottom of the metal sharpener 510 10 in the Noris sharpener features a ‘W’, which indicates that this sharpener is one of Staedtler’s newer sharpeners, optimised for use with the Wopex. It has a sharpening angle of 23°. The thickness of the shavings produced by the Wopex-optimised sharpener is the same as the one by the older model, usually just under 0.3 mm. I assume the difference is in the way the blade has been sharpened.
I used a notepad from Brunnen bought in August 2011 at McPaper in Schweinfurt, Germany for €1.19 (~ $1.46; £0.96) to compare the different leads in terms of smoothness, reflectiveness, darkness, erasability, graphite transfer to another page and how long they keep the point. As far as I can tell the three different Noris perform very similar. The graphite from the Malaysian Noris might transfer a bit easier to another page, e.g. in a diary, but it’s only every so slightly worse than the other two Noris pencils.
In terms of exterior appearance the Welsh and German Noris are nearly on par, with the paint on the Noris from Nuremberg being slightly more even. The paint of the Malaysian Noris is however much worse, but still better than the no name or own brand pencils you usually get in super markets. The Welsh Noris has a diameter of 7mm, which is slightly more than the 6.9mm the Malaysian and German pencils have.
For me the Noris is THE typical pencil. Previous blog posts showed the Noris being featured on TV. Today I want to add two more screen shots. One from Episodes, where Sean Lincoln (played by Stephen Mangan …who recently, as Dirk Gently, used a Faber-Castell Grip 2001 ) is using a Stadtler Noris in the USA, even though it isn’t officially on sale in the USA. The character must have brought it from the UK, the desk is full of Noris pencils ..or, in the real world, this scene might have been filmed in the UK.
The other screen shot is from episode 705 “Liebeswirren” of German/Austrian/Swiss crime TV series Tatort. One of the actors in this episode from Munich was Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds fame.
Exchange rates: June 2012.
I believe that the use of the following images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service:
The screen shot of Stephen Mangan and the Staedtler Noris, taken from episode three of the second season of the TV series Episodes
The screen shot of Udo Wachtveitl and the Staedtler Nori, taken from the Tatort #705 Liebeswirren