Maped


Royal Sovereign Briton 8

Royal Sovereign Briton

I have touched on the complicated history of the Royal Sovereign Pencil Co in a previous blog post. Today I want to show another pencil made by Royal Sovereign: the Briton.

Royal Sovereign Briton

To put this pencil into context: it was made in the early 1970s, i.e. after Staedtler’s partnership with the British Royal Sovereign Pencil Company started in 1960 and after the owner or Royal Sovereign, the Charnaud family, offered Staedtler their shares in 1966. I guess there’s a chance these pencils were made on the same machines as the early Staedtler Tradition pencils shown here.

Royal Sovereign Briton

The Briton pencil was available in five different degrees: 2H (yellow), H (green), HB (red), B (light blue) and 2B (dark blue), but towards the end of the Briton line, before it was replaced by the Staedtler Tradition, only the HB and B pencils were still in production.

Royal Sovereign Briton

Just like the earliest Staedtler Tradition pencils, it has golden lettering and was pre-sharpened on the right side. This means that the text is upside down if you hold the pencil (the normal way) in your right hand.

Royal Sovereign Briton

The Briton is easy to sharpen and erase. Sharpening was tested using a Maped Metal sharpener, made in Suzhou1, near Shanghai.  In terms of darkness, the lead produces a line similar to modern Staedtler pencils but feels a bit scratchier. It is definitely a good all-round and everyday pencil.

Royal Sovereign Briton


I would like to thank mrsnuffles for telling me which other Briton degrees were available at the time.

  1. That’s one of the nice things in Chinese supermarkets: the label on the product or shelf will tell you which city a product is made in. []

Tesco, LeGou and Maped 2

When I go to the supermarkets in Shanghai it’s usually E-Mart, a large Korean supermarket chain. In the past I used to go to Carrefour, but I think I haven’t been to a Carrefour in Shanghai for at least five years – just because it’s less convenient to go there. It’s a shame, because they always had a good selection of Faber-Castel products with very low prices. Even though I’ve seen Tesco in Shanghai1 in the past, I’ve never actually visited one.  This had to change. I mentioned Tesco in previous blog posts. It’s one of the biggest or the biggest supermaerket chain in the UK. Many Brits try to avoid Tesco for various reasons, but my wife and I usually don’t mind and visit more or less all supermarket chains nearby, we don’t have a particular favourite.

The Tesco I went to is in SongJiang, not far from the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. The selection of stationery is fantastic, much better than in the English Tesco extra I usually visit. The stationery products on offer are dominated by Chinese brands, which is no surprise – there are a lot of Shanghainese M&G products in the shelves. Even though I did not notice this brand in the beginning of the decade, it has certainly been in all the supermarket chains in recent years. Pencil-wise the choice is not great, there are only a few different pencils to choose from. Most are hexagonal, some are triangular. Most space was reserved for Tesco’s own brand yellow pencils (I’ll try to check where they are made when I go there again), Staedtler’s yellow pencil 134 (produced in Shanghai) and Chung Hwa’s Drawing Pencil 101. Pens are surprisingly cheap, but I’ll write more about that another time. One brand that seems to grow year on year in China, Britain and Germany is Maped. Maped –  Manufacture d’Articles de Précision Et de Dessin (Manufacture of Precision and Drawing Tools) is a French company established in 1947. Unlike companies like Staedtler or Faber-Castell, Maped concentrates more on non-pen stationery, like paper-clips, scissors, etc. Since 2006 they own Helit and Diplomat, two German companies. Helit manufactures Bakelite desk accessories and other items. You can see their Bakelite blotting roller in this blog post. This blotting roller is from a mould or based on a mould that is at least 90 years old. Back to Shanghai: I’m quite happy to have so much choice. You can be sure that I already bought quite a few stationery products in LeGou Tesco.

A small fraction of the stationery in LeGou

  1. Tesco entered the Chinese market in 2004 when they bought the Chinese supermarket chain 乐购 (LeGou – Happy shopper) []