Made in Indonesia


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

Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000 26

Here in the UK there are several TV shows about buying holiday homes abroad or emigrating. One of those shows is “Wanted Down Under”. The format is usually the same and involves showing how much more people would earn down under and showing what to expect in terms of costs, facilities etc. I’ve never seen a whole episode, but over the years I’ve seen different bits from several episodes and (suspenseful music) they have never talked about the stationery situation down under!

Time to remedy this. Let’s look at the Castell 9000 down under.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

The Castell 9000‘s main markings. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia
Please enlarge by clicking, so that the differences are more obvious.

For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia [1]Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia [2]Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance.. They said that prior to this they bought them from Germany, but if Faber-Castell Indonesia is out of stock Faber-Castell Australia will request replenishment from Faber-Castell Germany.

castell9000-indonesia2

The Castell 9000‘s bar codes. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia

In reality this situation seems to be a bit more complicated than that. You might remember Kevin from New South Wales because of his guest review of the Dahle 133 sharpener. Kevin reports that for the last eight to ten years he usually only came across Indonesian Castell 9000 pencils, the exception being some mixed grade tins, which are from Germany.

Sarab from Western Australia also struggles to find the German Castell 9000, which he prefers, and reports that its not easy finding a stationery shop in Europe that will ship small orders internationally. In his experience the differences in grade of the Indonesian Castell 9000 are very subtle or non-existent. In the past he managed to get Bavarian made Castell 9000 pencils in some branches of Jacksons Drawing Supplies, but now they also only stock Indonesian made Castell 9000 pencils.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

Only the German Castell 9000 (top) has markings on three sides. The Indonesian Castell 9000 (bottom) only has markings on two sides.

There seem to be so many unused numbers after 9000. I can see that Castell 9000 is an established brand, but I wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if the Indonesian pencil had another model number – what about 9001? It’s easy to distinguish the different 9000s anyway. In terms of colour and feel the paint of the Indonesian 9000, which doesn’t seem to be water-based, seems to be more similar to the paint used for the Mitsubishi 9800 and less similar to the one used for the Castell 9000 from Stein. The bar code, lead hardness font and print on only two sides of the hexagonal pencil also give the game away anyway…

 

The 'town' of Castell

The ‘town’ of Castell. The Castell 9000 is (indirectly) named after this town, through the Counts of Castell.
Nearby, on Schwanberg, you can even find pencil cedars. The first seeds to plant these trees in Bavaria were imported by Lothar von Faber (Faber, 1873, p.44) [3]Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei.


I would like to thank Sarab, who brought this issue to my attention, Faber-Castell Australia for further information, Kevin for further information and for the Indonesian Castell 9000 he sent me in October 2011 and Sean for telling me about the book referenced in the third footnote.

More Castell 9000 related posts can be found at Contrapuntalism, Pencil Talk and Bleistift.

References

References
1Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously.
2Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance.
3Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei