Stationery Factlets

Stationery Factlets #6: Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of mechanical pencil leads

Time for another stationery factlet: Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of mechanical pencil leads.

Staedtler made lead holders and leads for the lead holders for a long time. Below is a page from their 1935 catalogue.

Staedtler Catalogue 1935
Staedtler Catalogue 1935

When thinner lead diameters were introduced Staedtler was the first European manufacturer of these thinner leads – the kind of leads I would refer to as mechanical pencil leads.

Staedtler’s catalogues from the 1960s don’t seem to show pictures of these leads, but the catalogue from 1970 does – and it shows a very familiar lead container.

Staedtler Catalogue 1970
Staedtler Catalogue 1970
Staedtler Catalogue 1970
Staedtler Catalogue 1970

The Mars lead container still has the same shape today, but the plastic is now transparent. The opening of this lead container has the perfect diameter for refilling Mars micro mechanical pencils as you can see in the old video from my 2015 neox blog post.

I would like to thank Eberhard Rüdel for his detective work regarding my mechanical lead questions.

Stationery Factlets #5: The Staedtler Foundation

Time for another stationery factlet – the last one was a while ago, in March.

Since 1997, all shares in the Staedtler Group have been held by the Staedtler Foundation.
The Staedtler Foundation supports

  • scientific research projects that pursue innovative approaches or that apply pioneering methods
  • as well as cultural projects.

Next time you use a Staedtler pen you know that your purchase wasn’t just a contribution to a company’s profits but did something for the common good.

Staedtler’s HQ

The image shown in this blog post has been reused. It was first shown in my Staedtler Factory Visit blog post from 2016.

Stationery Factlets #4: International Women’s Day Edition

Grace Scurr’s passport photo

So far Bleistift’s Stationery Factlets have covered stationery and a woman. No man yet. We wouldn’t want to change that on International Women’s Day, would we – so today’s factlet is about Grace Scurr (1894 – 1987).

She started working for Normal & Hill in 1921 as a temp / typist. Norman & Hill became what is now known as Filofax. The idea for the name Filofax, from ‘file of facts,’ came from Grace Scurr and she is also the one who saved the company after Norman & Hill’s offices were destroyed in the war: she had all supplier and customer data written down in her Filofax, which she took home every day [1]Depending how the data is organised this kind of behaviour might get you into trouble when the GDPR comes into effect in May 2018..

When she left the company in 1955 she was president and shareholder in the company.

There are more stories to tell about Filofax, but I’d like to keep the focus on Grace Scurr, so am stopping here.

Photo from Filomaniac, copyright unknown, possibly expired. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


1 Depending how the data is organised this kind of behaviour might get you into trouble when the GDPR comes into effect in May 2018.

Stationery Factlets #3: The Queen’s Ink

This factlet is quite different to the previous ones. One difference is that I was unable to corroborate this information from other sources, so there is a chance it is a factoid rather than a factlet. The other difference is that it is not well known, so it’s probably a ‘You read it first on Bleistift’ factlet.

I believe there are a few very popular TV series about Queen Elizabeth II at the moment, though I haven’t seen any of them. With renewed interest from these TV series his factlet might be of interest to a wider audience than it might have been a few years ago.

The fact that Queen Elizabeth II is using Parker pens is well known. I believe Parker was been issued a Royal Warrant of appointment as sole supplier of pens and inks more than 50 years ago.

A Parker Penman ink bottle. This one is Mocha.

Well, here’s the factlet about one of her favourite inks:

“There have been a number of different Parker Penman ink colours produced over the years including the most beautiful shade of tangerine [1]I am not sure whether this is the ‘Ruby’ colour. I didn’t come across many Penman inks. Ruby is the closest one to Tangerine I know of. which is supposed to have been a favourite of the Queen and used by her on personal correspondence. The story goes that when the colour was withdrawn the palace planned to remove the Royal Warrant only restoring it when they agreed to continue producing the colour especially for the Queens private use.”

Someone I don’t have a reason to distrust has confirmed to me that in his company’s archive they have a private letter from the Queen, written in Penman’s tangerine coloured ink.

The Penman inks were discontinued more than fifteen years ago. They had a high saturation so were popular with many users, but this high saturation also meant they would clog your pen up if left alone for too long.


1 I am not sure whether this is the ‘Ruby’ colour. I didn’t come across many Penman inks. Ruby is the closest one to Tangerine I know of.

Stationery Factlets #2: Hobonichi’s Extra and Bonus Pages

Welcome to the second Stationery Factlets post. Again, this might not be new to you, but it is something that doesn’t get mentioned often.

This factlet is just in time for starting your new diary in 2018.

Hobonichi is offering Extra and Bonus Pages. These are extra sheets you can print for your and stick into your Hobonichi. Some Extra or Bonus Page are available in several formats (Original, Cousin or Weeks) while others are only available in one format. They cover all kinds of topics. One example is a page to record who you sent New Year’s cards to and who you received New Year’s cards from. Another one example is a size conversion chart.

Have a look at the original web page here

..or at this Google Translation.