Mars Lumograph


Pencils for score keeping

My ‘baseball pencil’ choice

Last month Josha from the Netherlands sent me an email. He is using pencils for the purpose of keeping score during baseball games. He wrote:

For baseball score keeping addicts, like myself and many others out there, there are three important things to a pencil:
1. lead must not smear
2. a good sharpener so you can use the pencil without sharpening too often during a match (which can take up to three and a half hours)
3. a good eraser.
(4th optional: a good red pencil!!)

Pencil (graphite) and no sharpener

Keeping all the requirements in mind my first idea for a graphite pencil is a Mars Lumograph in F. It doesn’t smear and will keep the point for a long time. I have written many pages of text in meetings with the Lumograph in F, without sharpening, so I think it should be able to survive 3½h of writing of score keeping.

Eraser

There is no eraser tipped version of the Lumograph, so I would take a dust free eraser with me. My favourite type of eraser. You can get them from Faber-Castell (in big and small), Staedtler, Tombow and many other brands.

Red pencil

Josha explains:

The red pencils are commonly used for tho things: number the strike-outs and underline red handed players. So they’re mostly used for writing numbers.

As a good red pencil that keeps the point for while I would go for the Staedtler Noris colour, made from Wopex material, or the Mitsubishi 7700. Both pencils have been covered in this previous blog post. Mitsubishi’s 7700 line was stopped, but luckily the red 7700 is still available.

As described in that blog post the Mitsubishi creates a darker shade of red on the paper (…at least when used with 1.8 N and an angle of 90° while moving along the paper with 25 mm/s. The pencils will behave differently under different conditions).

Mitsubishi 7700 #15 RedNoris colour, a similar shade of red
Sample:m15Histogram:
hbm15
Sample:ncredHistogram:hbncred

The comments from Josha’s Instagram account imply that he is selling notebooks he made for baseball score keeping. I don’t have further information and didn’t try to explore this further. I just liked matching the pencil requirements to real world pencils.


Interlead 3

Just a quick Interlude (or should that be Interlead) before I continue with the blog posts about the Insights X 2016.

The first edition of the James Bond novel “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” from 1963 features a hand sharpened Mars Lumograph.

( Image from www.raptisrarebooks.com )

(Image from www.raptisrarebooks.com)

For comparison: here’s a similarly sharpened Mars Lumograph.

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph

Hand sharpened Mars Lumograph


The photo of the James Bond book has been taken from the article about James Bond First Editions from Raptis Rare Books. I believe that showing the picture of the book in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


The Snowman and The Snowdog 2

Pencils sorted by colour (© Rare Day)

Pencils sorted by colour (Image © Rare Day)

The Snowman

I know, Christmas is over, but the weather is still fairly wintery and it’s just starting to get warmer now, so you might forgive me if I wrote about snowmen. Since 1982 Channel 4 has been showing The Snowman every year for Christmas. It’s a 26-minute animation drawn using pencils.

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (© Rare Day)

A blue Prismacolor pencil at work (Image © Rare Day)

I don’t think The Snowman is very well known outside the UK, but if you’re not on the British Isles you might know another animation from the author Raymond Briggs: When the Wind Blows.

Are these Caran d'Ache pencils? (© Rare Day)

Are these Caran d’Ache pencils? (Image © Rare Day)

According to the Cumberland Pencil Museum, where you can see a making of video, it has been drawn using Derwent Cumberland pencils.

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (© Rare Day)

A Mars Lumograph in the Lupus Films Studio (Image © Rare Day)

The sequel

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the animation Channel 4 made a sequel: The Snowman and The Snowdog. When I first heard about the sequel I was sceptical and didn’t expect it to be hand drawn using pencils, but to my surprise it’s hand made using pencils. The sequel cost £2 million and according to a documentary about the making of the sequel 200 000 sheets of paper and 5000 pencils were used.

Prismacolor 20044 blue (© Rare Day)

Prismacolor 20044 blue (Image © Rare Day)

In a documentary, also shown on Channel 4, you can see all sorts of pencils being used in the studio in North London where the cells were hand drawn. I was surprised to see fairly few Derwent Cumberland pencils1. The pencils visible in the documentary don’t have to be representative of those used for the animation, but the pencils you get to see in the documentary are not from Derwent – they are mainly Prismacolor pencils. The 20044, an eraser-tipped blue pencil, seems to be particularly often used for outline animations2. I believe the reason blue is being used is because cameras or copiers will ignore this colour or shade of colour, so that sketch lines don’t need to be erased and the final black lines can just be drawn over the sketches3. You can also see some Caran d’Ache pencils, Staedtler’s Mars Lumograph and two mechanical pencils, which I think were both Pentels.

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (© Rare Day)

Some of the pencils in the home of Raymond Briggs (Image © Rare Day)

Some scenes were filmed in Raymond Briggs’ House where many Derwent Cumberland pencils were visible and where you can also see him using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph.

 

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (© Rare Day)

Composer Ilan Eshkeri is using a red and blue pencil during recording at Abbey Studios (Image © Rare Day)


The images in this blog post have been taken from Rare Day‘s documentary How the Snowman Came Back to Life. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

The Snowman and The Snowdog (© Lupus Films, Rare Day)

The Snowman and The Snowdog (Image © Lupus Films, Rare Day)

  1. I would have thought that Derwent Cumberland would have an interest in sponsoring this movie – 5000 pencils wouldn’t have been a lot for them. []
  2. If that’s the right word. []
  3. I first read about this when I discovered Staedtler’s non-photo-blue pencils. []

Graphite transfer and the Wopex 5

Today: another blog post about one of the items I have received from Office Hero, the Staedtler Wopex. You might remember my previous two blog posts about the Wopex, one was looking at the Wopex 2B and 2H and one was comparing different eco pencils. Office Hero sent me a pack of twelve Wopex as a free sample. Their normal price is £4.01 (~ $6.35; €4.60) plus VAT.

Why another blog post about the Wopex? The Wopex has one property I really like, even though there are actually also a few things wrong with the Wopex. Back to the characteristic I like, which is why I pick this pencil more and more often when making entries in my diary. The reason is simple and has been mentioned by Koralatov in a recent comment: there’s hardly any graphite transfer between different pages when writing on the reverse. I use my diary to keep track of appointments and to record things that need doing. Graphite from soft pencils will transfer easily after something has been written on the reverse or on the next page, which will in then look very unsightly. Even though you can get graphite from the Wopex to transfer to another page if you want to, as seen on the photos, this transfer is usually not happing under normal circumstance and is therefore not a problem.

Graphite comparison in a Castelli Academic Diary

 

I think the Wopex has great potential, but it also has a few flaws which I want to mention.

  • The “fibre Wopex material” is too hard, so I use dedicated sharpeners in my office and at home, just for the Wopex. The “fibre Wopex material” is also too hard for rotary blade sharpeners.
  • If you sharpen the Wopex to a very fine point the point will break easily.
  • Small bits of the “fibre Wopex material”, close to the lead, can crumble off when sharpening.
  • There doesn’t seem to be a difference between the Wopex 2B, HB and 2H.

There are quite a few other issues, but mentioning them all would distract from the main issue I want to address here: Wopex‘s great lead that is a very good choice for diaries.

Top-bottom: Mars Lumograph HB, F, Castell 9000 HB, 2B, Technograph B, Wopex HB, Mono HB, Ticonderoga HB

Let’s look at the results from my (unrepresentative) graphite transfer test, conducted by writing on one page, putting the next page on top and applying pressure to the reverse of the next page1. Harder and lighter leads do better than softer and darker leads – no surprise here. The best pencil in my comparison was the Staedtler Wopex HB, followed by the Caran d’Ache Technograph 777 B, which has previously been reviewed by penciltalk. The worst pencils in this test were the Tombow Mono 100 HB and the Amos Dixon Ticonderoga HB. This was obviously due to their softness which does however bring other advantages, e.g. better pressure/darkness ratio – I do however prefer a tidy diary and do tend to use the Tombow and Dixon only when smearing, smudging and graphite transfer don’t matter.

 


Price and exchange rates: October 2011.

I would like to thank

The comparison has been conducted in a Castelli Academic Diary my wife got from her employer. I use a no name  academic diary from my employer, which has very different paper. My initial impressions are that graphite-transer-wise good pencils behave better in my diary, but bad pencils behave worse.

  1. The effects can be stronger when applying pressure directly to the reverse of the page you wrote on. []

The ubiquitous Staedtler pencils 20

This is not the first time that I mention the fact that Staedtler pencils are quite common in the UK1. Today I want to show you some examples of Staedtler pencils seen on TV. In the UK school is about to start soon, so there’s  even Staedtler advertising on TV these days. The examples shown here are however not part of an advertising campaign and I believe that Staedtler pencils have just been used because they are quite common. I apologise as nearly all picture shown have been taken from TV series. As usual, all pictures not taken by myself come with a note explaining where they are from or who owns the copyright.

 

Real people

Let’s start with real, i.e. non-fictional, people using Staedtler pencils.

Stephen Wiltshire

I’ll skip photos of Stephen Wiltshire using Staedtler pencils. One reason is that you might remember seeing him using a Staedtler pencil from a blog post from March 2010 about the Staedtler Tradition. The other reason is that about a year after the blog post he started making advertising for Staedtler, so any new pictures showing him using Staedtler pencils would arguably be because of his contract with Staedtler, not because of the omnipresence of Staedtler pencils. I have seen him using other pencils in the past, I assume he is only or mainly using Staedtler products now.

Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay with a Tradition (Image © One Potato Two Potato)

Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity chef in the UK. Since he has been mocked in South Park I assume he must be a celebrity in the USA, too – or at least be known there. Here are photos of him in an episode of his TV series Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, where a restaurant ten miles from where I live was competing. I first wasn’t sure whether this is a real Tradition 110 or one of those copies available in many shops, but during this episode there were some moments when the reflection of the writing on the pencil can be seen quite well. It is not a copy.

Gordon Ramsay with a Tradition (Image © One Potato Two Potato)

 

Fictional characters

The Armstrong and Miller Show (Image © Toff Media / Hat Trick)

You can see Staedtler Tradition and Noris pencils in several school sketches in The Armstrong and Miller Show. Staedtler pencil’s use in The Armstrong and Miller Show is not really surprising. They are common and also to some extent the archetype of a pencil.

Tradition and Noris in The Armstrong and Miller Show (Image © Toff Media / Hat Trick)

 

In advertising

Staedtler’s pencils’ image as typical pencils means that you can see them often when an association with school is needed or in related advertising as in the example seen on the right. The advertising, probably created specifically for the UK and Ireland, was on a phone booth. A Staedtler Noris can be seen, even though the film is from the USA, where the Noris is not officially distributed and not available.

In the next example Harvey Nichols, a posh department store, used Noris look-alikes in their shop window to advertise perfume – I am not sure what the link between the perfume and the pencils is.

Noris look-alikes in Harvey Nichols shop window. (Thank you to Mrs Schmitt for allowing me to use Staedtler’s photo)

Before I finish this blog post, a quick look at fictional characters outside the UK who use Staedtler pencils.

USA

Ted Mosby with a Mars Lumograph (Image © CBS)

In the US-American TV series How I Met Your Mother the main characters, architect Ted Mosby (actor: Josh Radnor), can be seen using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph. Unlike the Noris and the Tradition, the Mars Lumograph is officially being sold in the USA. A fitting pencil: in the past the Mars Lumograph has been advertised a pencil for technical drawings and for engineers.

I apologise for the poor quality of these photos.

Ted Mosby with a Mars Lumograph (Image © CBS)

Iceland

Daníel and a Noris (Image © Saga Film)

Daníel and a Noris (Image © Saga Film)

His second appearance in this blog …both times with a pencil: Daníel Sævarsson (actor: Jörundur Ragnarsson), one of the main characters from the …vaktin series and from the film Bjarnfreðarson, this time with a Noris in episode two of Fangavaktin.


In previous blog posts the Tradition was written with lower case letters because this is how the name is printed on the current version of this pencil. I decided to capitalise Tradition from now on, but I will probably refrain from changing the spelling in previous blog posts.

I would like to thank Mrs Schmitt from Staedtler for giving me permission to use Staedtler’s photo of the Harvey Nichols shop window.

I believe that the use of the following images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service:

  • The two photos of Gordon Ramsay and the Staedtler Tradition, taken from episode three of the TV series Ramsay’s Best Restaurant
  • The two school sketch photos, taken from the second series of the TV series The Armstrong and Miller Show
  • The photo of the UK advertising for the film Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2
  • The two (poor) photos taken from the TV series How I Met Your Mother
  • The two photos taken from the TV series Fangavaktin

By the way, this is blog post 112. Quite fitting, as 112 is the article number of the rubber-tipped Staedtler Tradition.

  1. The blog post about the Staedtler Tradition and the one about the Chung Hwa drawing pencil both mentioned this, then there also the post about Staedtler UK. []