Minerva


Racing Ducks with Staedtler’s Minerva 4

Waddington Duck Race

When visiting the Waddington Duck Race, a duck race taking place once a year here in England’s North West, I was happy to see that the bureaucratic side of the duck race was run by Staedtler’s Minerva pencils.

Waddington Duck Race

The Minerva didn’t used to be common in the UK at all, but a few years ago it suddenly made it into lots of corner shops.

Staedtler Minerva

My employer, a university, also sold it in its shops. Unfortunately, since then the Minerva has disappeared nearly as fast as it appeared.

Waddington Duck Race

This made me even happier when I found many of them in the booth where the race tickets were sold (in the cardboard box in the photo above). They were used to record details of participants.

Waddington Duck Race

The race started at this end.

Luckily Staedtler pencils haven’t disappeared. They are still the staple pen of British schools. I hope this will be the case in the future, even after Staedtler’s switch to more Gmelina wood.

Waddington Duck Race

Goodbye, Waddington

 


Billographe 5

My father was a joiner. When he used to make plans for customers he always used to label them with this stencil. I think this stencil is one of the earliest things I remember from his workshop. He used it until he retired, when he was in his seventies.

A few years ago I decided to take it with me to the UK. At that time it was still in perfect shape. I kept it in a plastic bag for a few years and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I took it out of the bag recently. The stencil was completely deformed and the surface was very oily. I assume something from the plastic bag somehow interacted with the plastic form the stencil.

What a shame. I put some heavy books on, in the hope that it will help get the stencil at least a little bit back into shape, but I am not too confident that this will work.

The label reads BILLOGRAPHE №4 (bille fine) MINERVA FRANCE

It looks as if these are still being made, at least in some sizes, but they seem to be extremely difficult to get hold of outside France1.

 

  1. In Germany Standardgraph, which you might know because of their DUX sharpeners, is selling similarly coloured stencils – not only letters, also stencils to make plans of rooms, etc. []