End of last year I had the opportunity to get a tour of Kaweco’s premises in Nuremberg, lead by none other than Sebastian Gutberlet himself. He is the son of Michael Gutberlet – the man who brought Kaweco back in the 1990s.
Kaweco did offer a tour of their premises at the time the Insights X trade fair was on, but back then I didn’t have the time to take this offer up.
The offices and the factory are actually just next to Nuremberg’s convention centre. They will soon house a shop and a museum, too.
As you might know, Kaweco used to be based in Heidelberg (where Lamy is), but since Michael Gutberlet brought it back to life in the 1990s it is based in Nuremberg (where Staedtler and many other stationery manufacturers are).
The factory visit was actually supposed to take place a few days earlier, but illness meant that our family’s trip to Germany was delayed. Luckily we were able to rebook the ferry. Kaweco was happy to accommodate, but as the tour now took place on 23rd December, with December 24th being kind of the most important Christmas day around here, there were no workers in the factory assembling pens and I couldn’t see (or film) the machines in action.
In case you wonder: the plastic parts for the pens aren’t made at this location. They are designed by Kaweco but outsourced as you’d need a lot of expenditure for machines etc if you’d want to make all the parts yourself. The parts are however all coming back to Nuremberg to be assembled here. Depending on how big the batch or order is the pens can also be engraved here.
Except housing the machines these premises also include the warehouse, which was busy because annual stocktaking was just taking place.
Since we were in Nuremberg anyway and it was just before Christmas we used to opportunity to visit Nuremberg’s Christmas market, probably the most famous one in Germany. By the way, Sebastian’s Ewok hat in the following picture from Nuremberg’s Christmas market that day was handmade by Shangching from East…West…Everywhere.
We had a great day visiting Kaweco and Nuremberg. I hope I will have a chance to go back there once the museum and shop are officially open.
After the quick interruption to my Insights X posts (I just had to post about October’s Pencil Pot of the Month, so that the post is on time): let’s continue with all the cool stuff from Insights X and move on to Faber-Castell.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to look around at their stand as much as I would have wanted to, so this is not a in-depth as I would have liked it to be.
Faber-Castell did hand out goody bags to everyone from the blogger group and I am quite happy that this included the green (Castell 9000) version of the Perfect Pencil. You might remember that I lost mine after years of use. This summer I bought a new green one in Müller, a German drug store chain. They sell them for around €8. Even though I got one again since summer it’s nice to have a spare one (the one from the goody bag) – just in case I lose it again. In my opinion the Castell 9000 version of the Perfect Pencil is by far the best product Faber-Castell is selling (but I also love their dust free eraser).
One of the new line of products Faber-Castell presented was the Pixel-it line. My guess is that if adults want to be kept busy with colouring books then children want that to. Faber-Castell thinks that with normal ‘connect the dots’ pictures you often know in advance what the final result will be.
This reminds me of a scene from Red Dwarf with our favourite Scouser. This video should hopefully start at the right scene (7 minutes 44 seconds in).
With these new Pixel pictures you don’t draw lines but colour squares / pixels that make up the picture. The colour you are supposed to use is printed as a number in the square, which solves the problem of making it too easy to recognise the shape of the final picture too soon. I think it is possible to recognise some shapes, before starting to colour the picture – especially if there are areas of colours represented by a single digit number next to areas represented by a double digit number, but the surprise doesn’t get spoiled as much as with connect the dots pictures.
Here’s a magnification of the picture above so that you can see how the numbered pixels look like:
The centrepiece of Faber-Castell’s stand was the Karl Box. They were so proud of it, they also presented it at the entrance of the trade fair Hmm, somehow reminds me of the old Remington ad.. It contains a selection of Faber-Castell pens and has been created together with Karl Lagerfeld. It’s limited to 2,500 and the price is 2,500, too – €2,500 that is.
I was quite excited to see Insights X branded Grip 2001 pencils. Unfortunately they were not part of the goody bag.
In the press pack I saw that Faber-Castell has also released
new pens in their Ambition range with a good looking guilloche pattern,
white, grey and black pencils in the style of their Grip 2001 pencils, but the dots looking like crystals, similar to the Staedtler pencils with crystal dots,
different, new sets of coloured pens and pencils
and new colours for the Grip 2010 and 2022 pens
Except the Magnum Perfect Pencil, mentioned above, Graf von Faber-Castell has also released
desk accessories made from leather
a very good looking pen roll made from leather
‘Limited Edition Heritage’ fountain pens
uni-ball / uni / Mitsubishi Pencil
This might not be well known outside the German speaking countries, but in Germany (maybe even more markets, I don’t know) Faber-Castell is distributing uni-ball products. I am not sure when this started, but when I was still living in Germany uni-ball products didn’t have the Faber-Castell logo printed on them. Now they do, so I am not sure whether the cooperation is just more obvious now or whether there was no cooperation in the past.
For the Insights X that meant that Faber-Castell and uni / Mitsubishi Pencil were next to each other. Faber-Castell also included uni-ball products in their press releases. This included the ‘Trend’ version of the uni-ball Air, a pen I was disappointed with, mainly because of the false claims in their UK advertising. Well, those claims about producing fine and broad lines are the same in Faber-Castell’s press release, but at least they don’t seem to be the big selling point for Faber-Castell. Faber-Castell also presented the uni-ball Power Tank Trend – the advertising seems to indicate that this pen is similar to a Fisher Space Pen.
When I asked at the uni / Mitsubishi Pencils stand about pencils I was told that they don’t do pencils in this market and therefore don’t have any here. Maybe not selling pencils in this market is part of the agreement they have with Faber-Castell? Who knows.
Outside Insights X – Karstadt
The most exclusive Faber-Castell products were not at Insights X though, instead I found them in Karstadt, a department store in Nuremberg’s city centre – just opposite Staedtler’s shop.
I wonder whether Faber-Castell thought something along the lines of ‘If Staedtler has a shop in the city centre we also want to make sure we have a big presence in Nuremberg, the closest city to our headquarter’. Well, what I saw in Karstadt were the most expensive Graf von Faber-Castell products I have seen in my life.
Here are some of the highlights.
Two Pen of the Year 2015 Sanssouci Potsdam. One of them will set you back €3,500.
And here’s the pencil that is worth more than my car: a Perfect Pencil for €10,000.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take more photos with my phone because a shop employee told me off, saying that I need a signed letter from management if I want to take photos of the expensive pens. Well, luckily my wife was able to take the photo of the €10,000 pencil with her mobile, but the employee watched us with hawk eyes Suspecting we plan a heist to get the pencil out?, so we didn’t dare to take a close up photo of the pencil 8^(
I was surprised to see that Karstadt didn’t sell any Pelikan or Staedtler products. I found that rather odd as other department stores like Kaufhof sell these brands.
As usual please open the links on the images in a new tab to see them in high resolution (otherwise you can’t see the €10,000 pencil well).
Kaweco’s stand was the stand most visitors would see first as it was just next to the entrance to the first hall.
They showed many of their new products. I particularly liked the red fountain pen. It is a red colour that feels like a red that has been revived from Kaweco’s past, but when I asked about this I was told that it is a new colour they came up with recently.
Kaweco also introduced new packaging in the form of a big plastic screw (you can see it in the back on the left, in the photo above).
The employee at the stand also told me that black is their ‘best colour, so they introduced black as part of their ICE Sport series (that’s the series of Sport pens that are half transparent)
Ink-wise they showed their new colours Smokey Grey and Sunrise Orange.
Kaweco’s new aluminium dip pen / nib holder was also being presented at their stand. There is only one nib for now, but more will be available in the future.
What I found most exciting: They brought all the tools needed to assemble their fountain pens. I was lucky enough to have witnessed how these tools are being used and made a little video. The pen being assembled is a fountain pen that is a bit darker than the new Macciato colour. This Caramel colour is limited to 300 pieces.
The last item I want to show is their new pen holder in the shape of a German Shepard, Kaweco’s heraldic animal. The pen is made from artificial stone. I have used Pelikan’s pen holder in the shape of a pelican, but it is made of some sort of ceramic and will scratch the plastic body of Pelikan pens. From the looks of it I think the problem with scratches shouldn’t be as bad with Kaweco’s pen holder, but I haven’t really tried it out.
I was happy to hear that all of these items will be available in the UK.
On the way there two exciting things have happened. Out of the blue I saw someone at Manchester Airport with a t-shirt that seemed to feature Staedtler’s Mars logo from fifty years ago – you can see the old logo in this blog post from Lexikaliker. I assume this seeing this Mars head on a t-shirt is a coincidence and not linked to Staedtler, but to the Mars symbol itself …but seeing it in an unexpected place was still exciting.