50 years of Mouse TV

The Maus pencils are triangular and come in 12 colours

This year the German TV show “Die Sendung mit der Maus” celebrates 50 years on air. By now it is apparently being broadcast in 100 different countries, but I am not sure how popular it actually is outside Germany as I couldn’t find much information online that confirms what I read on Wikipedia about its popularity [1]Wikipedia tells me that there are also English dubbed versions being broadcast, but when I had a quick look I didn’t see any..

The packaging is nice, but on the pencil the outline of the Maus is smaller than the company logo

It is however very popular in Germany and teaches children a lot of things, including how products and things work and how they are made. By now there also a Maus radio station and, of course, there are (or were) Maus pencils.

I am not familiar with the maker of the Maus pencils. Based on what I have seen and based on the sparse information I have seen on the FSC web site I assume the company behind the pencils is a ‘marketing company’ that just paid to use the Maus logo and name on a pencil and then paid a manufacturer to put produce the Maus pencils for them.

The pencils are quite good for a ‘marketing product’, certainly better than some other coloured pencils with famous children characters.

Happy Birthday

All the best to the Maus. If you have a chance to watch an episode, please do so. They are quite informative – even for adults.

Die Sendung mit der Maus in Japanese…


1 Wikipedia tells me that there are also English dubbed versions being broadcast, but when I had a quick look I didn’t see any.

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Scraping pencils

Pencils not only seem to be reliable writers, they also seem to be reliable in terms of keeping their prices affordable.

In June this year, I used R to do some web scraping. The data collected was supposed to be for a follow-up of my Why did stationery become so expensive? blog post. Well, this is the follow up blog post and there isn’t much to show, maybe because we are talking about wood-cased pencils. Fountain pens and mechanical pencils had a more extreme price development.

I did the R code not only for the follow up, but also to teach myself a bit more R, I would have normally done this in PHP, which I am more familiar with, having used it since the 90s and having used it for similar tasks in the past (even though people didn’t call these tasks web scraping at that time, or if they did I didn’t know).

chart showing how the Koh-I-Noor PolyColor Art Pencil prices have changed.So what exactly did I do? I was looking at how the prices for pencils have changed on the Cultpens web site over time. My code that will get historic prices from archived versions of the Cult Pens pencil web page from is available on GitHub if you want to try it or change it for your own purposes. If you do please bear in mind that my code is not very good, I realise this, but as I am new to R I don’t know how to improve it (at the moment – I hope to find more time to learn R in the future). Also, if you try this please try to minimise any strain on the server you get your data from.

The findings were less exciting than expected. VAT has changed a few times over the last few years and there are obviously currency exchange rate fluctuations to be taken into account, as well as inflation and other factors.

The most interesting changes I could see was a > 10% price increase for some Graf von Faber-Castell products between 2010 and 2011.

The  Tomboy Mono 100 got cheaper over the years. Between 2010 and 2013 it got > 20% cheaper.

The most extreme price rise was for Koh-I-Noor products. At the beginning of 2014 the big Polycolor Art Pencil tin got nearly 40% more expensive, smaller tins got more expensive, too.

Overall prices seem remarkably stable.

As mentioned before I assume the price stability is also linked to this being pencils. As shown in my previous blog post fountain pens seem to attract more extreme price hikes.

Picture: Mongol plus Pilot Color Eno pencils on Brunnen Der Grüne Block.

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Erasers, pencils and 3D pens

I just found out that Erasers are ‘an instrument of the devil and should be banned’. That came as a surprise.

Not only did erasers turn out to be evil, apparently you can summon demons with pencils.

Come on, what’s going on with British newspapers this morning‽ No need to sell stories in such a sensationalistic way.


Since we’re talking about surprising things anyway: I was also surprised to find out that 3D pens are very cheap now. You can now get one for under £30 / under $45. I think they started out costing more than three times that. Of course the more expensive ones might be better, but I wouldn’t know – I haven’t tried any.

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