Pencil Blogs – Revolution Talk 2

Just a quick follow up from the last Pencil Blog Stats post.

I just thought I spell this out. Pencil Revolution and Pencil Talk have nearly the same number of posts.

Pencil Blogs - Revolution Talk

Pencil Blogs – Revolution Talk

If the post frequency of both blogs will remain the same as in the last few weeks then Pencil Revolution will soon overtake Pencil Talk in terms of blog posts published – probably this Summer

As always in this series: if the blog owner(s) contact(s) me and objects I will take this post about their pencil blog(s) offline, so there is a chance that some of these stats posts won’t stay.

To simplify the data collection the cut off point for this blog post was the end of the first quarter 2018.

Pencil Blogs – Talk the Talk 3

Welcome to the next post in our Pencil Blog Stats series. This time we’re adding what is probably the second oldest English-language pencil blog into the mix: Pencil Talk.

The other Pencil Talk

The official address is I am mentioning this because for many years there was also, which I think belongs or belonged to a school teacher. At some stage visitors got a warning about malicious code on that web site when trying to load the web site in their browser, but these days you just get a 403 and 404 error.

The Numbers

OK, let’s look at the number of blog posts over time.

Pencil Talk Blog Posts over the Years

The horizontal axis shows time (the more left, the longer ago), the vertical axis shows blog posts (starting with 0 at the bottom, reaching more than 600 blog posts near the top).

Pencil Talk’s first blog post was end of 2005. If we look at the blog posts over time there seem to be five distinct phases.


Pencil Talk Blog Posts over the Years

Phase A – Off to a good Start

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2006 - 2008

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2006 – 2008 (Different Scale for Vertical Axis)

At the end of 2005 Pencil Talk is off to a good and consistent start. The number of blog posts grows steadily.

Phase B – The Spurt

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2007 - 2012

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2007 – 2012

Then, in the Summer of 2007, we have the beginning of Pencil Talk’s spurt. We’ll see later that this spurt is matched in strength by the blog we looked at previously, but that the length of Pencil Talk’s spurt, from the Summer of 2007 to the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011 is unmatched.

Phase C – The Slow Down

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2011 - 2015

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2011 – 2015

Between the beginning of 2011 and Autumn 2014, we have the slow down where new blog posts became more and more scarce.

Phase D – The Big Empty

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2014 - 2017

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2014 – 2017

The blog was then taken offline in Autumn 2014 and was only put back online two years later. I was running a mirror for a day, but took it offline at the request of Pencil Talk, so access to the Pencil Talk content was only possible via the web site.

Phase E – A New Hope

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2016 - 2018

Pencil Talk Blog Posts 2016 – 2018

Yay, Pencil Talk is back online. We’re all so happy.

Throw the Talk in the Mix

When comparing Pencil Talk with Pencil Revolution it’s becoming clear how enormous Pencil Talk’s spurt (Phase B) actually was. The gradient is similar to Pencil Revolution’s most productive periods, but it lasted more than three years. During this spurt, in Spring of 2008 Pencil Talk overtook Pencil Revolution in terms of the number of blog posts.

All the blogs so far: Posts over Time for Pencil Revolution and Pencil Talk

All the blogs so far: Posts over Time for Pencil Revolution and Pencil Talk

Awards, Awards, Awards…

I am happy to announce that

  • Pencil Revolution deserves the Golden Pencil Case for being the oldest pencil blog and that
  • Pencil Talk deserves the Golden Pencil for having most posts.

In case you wonder. Both awards are purely virtual. ( is a free blog without advertising, after all).

Coming soon: How does the word count compare?

As always in this series: if the blog owner contacts me and objects I will take this post about their pencil blog offline, so there is a chance that some of these stats posts won’t stay.

To simplify the data collection the cut off point for this blog post was the end of the first quarter 2018.

Pencil Blogs – More Revolutions 2

Work is keeping me busy, so there haven’t been many blog posts recently. To prove that I’m still alive here’s just a quick add-on to my first blog post in my Pencil Blog Series.

Let’s have a quick look at the word count1 of Pencil Revolution blog posts over time.

Word Count

The longest Pencil Revolution blog post had nearly 2500 words. The shortest blog posts didn’t have any words and just consisted of a picture.

Pencil Revolution Word Count over Time

Let’s have a look at the word count plot. The x-axis (horizontal axis) is used for the dates of the blog posts. The y-axis (vertical axis) is for the word counts of the blog posts.

Each dot represents a blog post. Early posts are on the left, recent posts are on the right. Short posts are near the bottom, long posts are higher up.

The black line is a straight linear regression line. The blue curve is a LOESS (local regression) curve, which is a bit more ‘flexible’ than the straight line. You can see that in the first years, posts got longer and longer, while in recent years posts got shorter and shorter.

Cumulative Word Count

Looking at the cumulative word count we see that all Pencil Revolution blog posts together reached a word count of nearly 170,000 by now.

Pencil Revolution Posts and Cumulative Word Count

In this chart, the solid line shows the number of cumulative blog posts, as seen in the previous blog post, while the dotted line shows the cumulative word count. The average word count per post is 266, both lines are aligned accordingly. You can see that up to 2011 the posts were longer than the current word count average, while the posts since 2016 have been shorter than the current word count average.

That’s it for now like I said – just a quick blog post to show I’m still here. I hope to post more once work is less busy.

  1. I guess it’s not always clear what counts as a word and what doesn’t, so your word count might vary. []

Pencil Blogs – It’s a Pencil Revolution 4

It’s a Pencil Revolution.

No, I’m not talking about the song by Schradinova.

A New Series

I’m talking about Johnny’s pencil blog – because this is another one of those R / statistics blog posts – as threatened previously. I actually started to work on this in 2015. Originally I wanted to present all the data in one blog post, but because there are old pencil blogs disappearing and new ones appearing regularly this somehow hasn’t worked out yet.

That’s why I’ve now decided to switch to looking at the pencil blogs one by one, always adding to the previous stats and since I haven’t yet figured out a better way of ordering them I decided to start chronologically. The thing is, though, if pencil shops have been around for decades, there may be older pencil blogs I’m not aware of. If you know of any pencil blogs please let me know in the comments, so that I can add it to my list of blogs to be covered. At the moment I have around 30 pencil blogs on my list. Some of the next blogs to be covered will be Pencil Talk, Dave’s Mechanical Pencils and Lexikaliker.

I decided to stick with pencil related blogs, but if there is any interest (usually there isn’t much interest in the statistics related blog posts here) I’m happy to expand to more general stationery blogs.

Also, if the blog owner contacts me to object I will take the blog post about their blog offline, so there is a chance that these stats posts won’t stay.

Pencil Revolution

Here’s the first plot about the oldest pencil blog I know: Pencil Revolution. If there are no objections from Johnny other stats about Pencil Revolution will follow soon.

So far there have been 635 blog posts on Pencil Revolution. Congratulations!

Pencil Revolution Blog Posts Over TIme

Pencil Revolution Blog Posts Over TIme

The plot above shows the blog posts over time. Horizontal lines are an indication for periods of inactivity while ‘more vertical’ lines show periods with many blog posts. In the case of Pencil Revolution, you can see that Johnny stopped revolutionising between the Summer of 2006 and the Summer 2010 and between Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 before picking up again. The latest spurt started in the Summer of 2017. I won’t comment further as the graph is fairly straightforward.

Congratulations on more than ten years and more than 600 blog posts.

Scraping pencils 1

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.