Stationery Shopping in Germany

After several blog posts and videos about stationery shopping in Shanghai today’s post is about stationery shopping in Germany.

The video shows one of Müller’s branches’ stationery selection. Originally a pharmacy, Müller are now a chain selling all sorts of items.

The video is in 4K, so you’ll see more details if you open it in YouTube instead of watching it embedded in this blog post.

✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎ ✏︎

On a different note: a former colleague [1]Thanks, Mark. sent me a link to this article from The New York Times Magazine today:

Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories

The pictures are droolworthily excellent. Have a look.


1 Thanks, Mark.

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KUM Correc-Combi

Today I want to show you KUM’s Correc-Combi, a sharpener in an eraser case, which I bought this April for €2.79 (~$3.65; £2.25) in Müller in Volkach, Germany.

KUM's Correc-Combi opened

The eraser

The blade of the sharpener is fixed to a plastic body which in turn is encase by (quite a large) eraser. I am sure it will take quite a long time to use this eraser up.

KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica

The sharpener

The performance of the sharpener is quite good, certainly much better than the performance of KUM’s 400-1K. The sharpener produces thin shavings with an average thickness of 0.2 mm [1]I recently bought a calliper in Lidl, so I thought the thickness of the shavings would be a good thing to measure, especially since Lexikaliker mentions the thickness of shavings in his blog..


KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica

I also saw a set square from Globus by KUM for 49c (~ 65¢; 40p) in the same shop and couldn’t resist buying it. You might remember the list of sharpening angles of the different sharpeners in the KUM 400-1K blog post. When I figured these angles out, two years ago, I didn’t have a set square – so this time figuring the angle out was much easier. With about 22° the sharpening angle of the KUM Correc-Combi is very similar to the sharpening angle of Möbius+Ruppert’s grenade.

Globus by KUM's set square


A very good sharpener/eraser combination. The lid fits well, despite being a ‘click in’ lid (no screw thread) . The performance of the eraser is similar to that of KUM’s Correc Stick. It could be better, but is by no means bad. The performance of the sharpener is quite good and overall this eraser/sharpener combo offers very good value for money.

KUM's Correc Stick, KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica


Prices: April 2012
Exchange rates: May 2012

I would like to thank Hen Chung from RAH for the Staedtler norica 132 46 HB you can see on the photos. It’s the less purple version with blind stamped “SRP” [2]My more purple version is blind stamped “SRL”..

The Correc-Combi is part of KUM’s Blue Ocean series. You can read a review of KUM’s Blue Ocean pencil set at pencil talk. You can also read a review of Staedtler’s norica at pencil talk.

In a previous blog post I wrote about Faber-Castell’s sharpener-eraser pen.


1 I recently bought a calliper in Lidl, so I thought the thickness of the shavings would be a good thing to measure, especially since Lexikaliker mentions the thickness of shavings in his blog.
2 My more purple version is blind stamped “SRL”.

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Faber-Castell TK-Fine

Today: a mechanical pencil – The Faber-Castell TK-Fine, which is – despite the similar name – quite different to the TK-Fine Vario L, discussed by Dave. or the TK-Fine Executive, also reviewed by Dave.

Price-wise the TK-Fine is only about a third of the price of the TK-Fine Vario L. The TK-Fine is also slighlty cheaper than the Executive version, but this price difference is not that big.

All of the different TK-Fine pencils come in Faber-Castell’s famous dark green colour you know from the Castell 9000, but the TK-Fine version does not have the twist eraser, nor does it have (adjustable) lead cushioning. Another difference is that the Vario has a grooved metal grip area and that the Executive has a similar plastic grip while the TK-Fine‘s grip area is very much like the Apollo‘s. The Apollo has unfortunately disappeared, but a few weeks ago Lexikaliker had a post about the Apollo (Google translation of Lexikaliker’s Apollo post) and he was even kind enough to give his Apollo to an artist whose Apollo broke after 15 years of intense use.

…but the grip is not the only similarity between the Apollo and the TK-Fine. Let’s have a closer look at the similarities and differences between the Apollo and the TK-Fine.

The Apollo was available from 1983 until 2000. Different version can be seen in Lexikaliker’s post and in my opinion the Apollo XL looks just beautiful!

The TK-Fine has been available for over ten years and looks very similar, the main difference in appearance being the different top cap. It is actually being manufactured using the same tools that were used to make the Apollo, but the TK-Fine is made for technical drawings with a rigid, but fully-retractable lead sleeve, similar to the one you might know from Staedtler’s Mars micro. The Apollo on the other hand was made for writing and had a sliding sleeve that retracts as the pencil is used.

The TK-Fine is being produced in Geroldsgrün in Upper Franconia (Germany) available in 0.35mm (TK-Fine 9713), 0.5mm (9715), 0.7mm (9717) and 1.0mm (9719) and has an according top cap marked according to the ISO norm for technical drawing.

I bought the TK-Fine 9717 in April 2010 in Müller in Volkach (Germany) for €4,39 (~$5.80; £3.70) and the TK-Fine 9715 from Schule-Uni-Shop.de, who also ship internationally, for € 2,67 (~$3.50; £2.25). The price in the UK is comparatively high: At CultPens TK-Fine sells for £4.16 (~$6.50; €4.90).


The TK-Fine offers great value for money if you find a shop that sells it for a reasonable price, but since it is not a common pencil you might have problems getting hold of one.It comes with 3 super-polymer leads in HB, offers a pocket-safe lead sleeve (fully-retractable), it is colour coded according to ISO for lead width, it has an adjustable lead-grade indicator (2B – 4H, plus one neutral setting) and the eraser comes with a cleaning pin.

Prices: April 2010 and November 2010

Exchange Rates: December 2010

I would like to thank Ms Schaklies from Faber-Castell Customer Care for the additional information about the TK-Fine.

By the way… Faber-Castel made it into the Economist again. This time into the Economist’s Schumpeter column, which was introduced about a year ago.

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Eberhard Faber Lederetui

I think I should start this blog entry with a warning. If you expect this to be a pencil case review you might be slightly disappointed …there is a bit, but not too much, to be written about this pencil case, so to make this blog entry more substantial I will also talk a little bit about the Eberhard Faber brand and include a little bit of information about the pencils they offer in Europe. OK, let’s start:

When I was in Germany in April 2010 I bought this Eberhard Faber pencil case at the Müller store in Volkach, Lower Franconia. Müller is a drug store chain with shops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and other countries. The Müller shops I have seen so far had a nice selection of stationery.

Keeping the size of the shop in Volkach in mind they had a rather big stationery section. All the common products and brand were stocked …those that you would find in most shops in Germany, i.e. mainly Staedtler, Faber-Castell and for mechanical pencils the common Japanese brands as well.

You will also find some Lyra pencils, but don’t get your hopes up if you are looking for niche products. You will certainly find sharpeners, but if you are want a specific model not from Staedtler or Faber-Castell, but from Dux, M+S  or Eisen you will be disappointed …but to be fair: not many stationery shops stock these brands anyway.

One of the reasons why I bought this pencil case was to get it while it is still available. Eberhard Faber was an American brand, but was sold to Faber-Castell. Since the 1990s Sanford owns it and as far as I know Eberhard Faber products disappeared more or less completely in the USA. If this is not the case and Eberhard Faber articles are still available in the USA I would be grateful if you could let me know. Not uncommon in such a case: another company held the trademark for another geographic area, in this case Staedtler continued to use the Eberhard Faber name in Europe [1]This reminds me of Grundig, I mentioned them recently in another blog entry. Recently Staedtler sold the Eberhard Faber trademark, which now belongs to Faber-Castell. My understanding is that current Eberhard Faber products will not completely disappear, but will instead be sold under the Staedtler name in the future.

Eberhard was the brother of Lothar von Faber, the great-great grandfather of Count Anton Wolfgang, the current CEO of Faber-Castell. Originally Eberhard managed the subsidiary in New York and later  he established his own company under his own name (see page 8 of the 2 / 2007 issue of Faber-Castell topics).

If you want to know more about the Eberhard Faber brand: page 5 of the 1/2010 issue of Faber-Castell topics has a great article about the history of the Eberhard Faber brand.

Back to the pencil case. The pencil case was €14.99 ($19.90, £ 12.45) and is filled with 17 pencils (all of them triangular shaped), an eraser, a ruler, a sharpener, 6 ink cartridges and a timetable. The material of the pencil case is real leather, but unfortunately the leather is rather thin. Four of the pencils are the Tricki Dicki highlighter pencils in neon colours: yellow, orange, green and red. The pencil case was available in three different colours: tan, black and maroon, the one I bought. Just for your information: In Germany maroon is usually referred to as “Bordeaux red”.

Eberhard Faber Tricki Dicki highlighter pencils

Although possibly not the best choice of name for English speaking countries, these pencils work very well, but like all highlighter pencils they cover written or printed letters to some extent. They look very similar to the Staedtler textsurfer dry, so I assume the Tricki Dicki and the textsurfer dry might actually be the same pencil. The circles, stars and triangles printed on the Tricki Dicki pencils can also be found on Staedtler’s new learner’s pencil. I could not find a direct equivalent to the other colour pencils from the pencil case in Staedtler’s product range. The most similar pencil seems to be the Staedtler ergosoft, but unlike the ergosoft, the Eberhard Faber 1410 colour pencils do not have ABS coating.

Eberhard Faber colour pencils 1410

The sharpener that comes with the pencil case is the Möbius+Ruppert double hole magnesium sharpener 0211. The white eraser that you get does not have anything printed on it.

Möbius+Ruppert double hole magnesium sharpener 0211

The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is a tri-fold pencil case with the fold-out part containing a timetable on one side and the ruler, the ink cartridges and three 1210 pencils on the other side.

I am not sure whether there is an equivalent pencil that is being sold under the Staedtler name. If there is one it might be the triangular Noris Club.

The Eberhard Faber 1210 pencils are very nice indeed, rather dark and not scratchy. They do however look relatively boring and I have to admit that I am less of a fan of triangular pencils than most other people.

Eberhard Faber 1210 - Faber Castell 9000 - California Republic Palomino
Eberhard Faber 1210 pencil


The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is great value for money. You get quite a few pencil and a nice sharpener for your money. Compared to high-end pencil cases like the Sonnenleder Lasse it does however feel a bit flimsy and the leather, even though it is real leather, feels quite plasticy. This pencil case is being sold to school children, therefore the thin leather makes me wonder whether the pencil case will survive very long in the real world… Nevertheless I am sure it will last for a long time if you look after it.


Staedtler press release about selling the Eberhard Faber trademark to Faber-Castell

Price: April 2010

Exchange rates: August 2010


1 This reminds me of Grundig, I mentioned them recently in another blog entry

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