Tombow


This and that (hexagonal cedar eraser edition) 2

A parcel from Japan

Last month Tombow released a new eraser (Japanese announcement, Google translation). It’s quite similar to an old, familiar friend, the Staedtler Mars plastic, but with a Tombow Mono inside. The eraser stick has a diameter of 6.7 mm and a length of 100 mm.

Tombow’s new Mono Stick and Staedtler’s Mars plastic

Tombow isn’t the only company with new erasers. Look at this special eraser from Seed. Seed’s Radar is one of their famous erasers. This version has a sleeve made from 300 year old cedar wood.

Cedar Seed

Here it is again, next to some other Seed erasers.

Comparison: different Seed erasers

Since we are talking about Japanese erasers: in case you were wondering about the symbols you can find on them: have a look at this document from JEMA, the Japan Eraser Manufacturers Association (Google Translation). It also contains explanations regarding testing.

from the JEMA document (Image © JEMA)

I also noticed the Orenznero, discussed previously, in the Bun2 magazine…

 

..as well as a nice sharpener and organiser from Nakabayashi. There’s an automatic (~£28; $39, €31) and a manual version (~£9; $13; €10) of the Pacatto sharpener.

The Stationery King1 did of course have several appearances, too).

…and now for something completely different. I dare to include it because it has hexagonal in the title: Hexagonal Phase.

The computer animations from the TV series were actually hand drawn.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is back. The Original Cast of the Original Radio 4 Radio Comedy in new episodes, written by written by Eoin Colfer.

Image © BBC Radio 4

 


I would like to thank Yumiko for the nice parcel and Gunther and Sola for the additional information.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy images in this blog post are from the BBC series of the same name. I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Sean rightly wonders whether he shouldn’t be the emperor of stationery. []

More Vietnamese Monos

The bottom of the box

This is just a quick follow up, linked to my previous blog post about Lexikaliker’s investigation into the Vietnamese Mono 100s1.

The familiar box…

The Vietnamese Mono…

If the Mono 100 is now made in Vietnam then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mono (without the 100) is now made in Vietnam, too.

You can see the Made in Vietnam blind stamp against the light (open in a new tab to see clearly)

..and the Dong-A Fable

I would have liked to compare the Japanese and Vietnamese Mono, but everywhere where I thought I’ve seen a non-100 Mono in our house it turned out to be the similarly looking Dong-A Fable2, a pencil that has made a few appearances on this blog since 2009.

The Tombow Mono and the Dong-A Fable

Mono’s history

Well, 1963 is not only the year Terry Farrell, Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine3, was born. It is also the year the Mono was released. It was ‘kind of’ a successor to the Homo, which was released in 1952, but wasn’t liked by Tombow anymore, or should I rather say: they didn’t like the name anymore, after the

‘diparaging slang-term “homo” became well-known in Japan’ (Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee, 2013:p.38).

Mono display from the 1960s. ¥60, seen on the display, was the original price, later lowered to ¥50. (Picture from Tombow)

In 1967, for Tombow’s 55th anniversary, the Mono 100 followed ..and two years later there was a Mono eraser, too. I don’t want to bore you with more details, but if you’re really interested, let me know in the comments and I’ll write up more when I have time.

Mono box from the 1960s (Picture from Tombow)

References

Tombow Pencil 100 Year History Project Committee. (2013) The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil. Tokyo, Tombow Pencil Cp., Ltd.


I bought this dozen straight from Japan and paid just under £9, I think.

Unless otherwise stated pictures in my blog are taken by me. Well, this is one of those ‘otherwise stated’ occasions. The pictures marked as such are from Tombow’s book “The 100 Year History of Tombow Pencil”. In January 2015 Tombow Europe granted me permission to use them in blog posts.

  1. English translation here. []
  2. To me the Fable is more common than the Mono. A fate I probably share with very few people outside Korea. []
  3. I just had to add a Star Trek fact. []

Mysterious Mono 100s 8

Sean and Gunther are the detectives of the pencil world. While Sean has specialised in solving cold cases Gunther is investigating up-to-date issues.

In Gunther’s latest blog post (in German / automated English translation from Google here, from Bing here) he is having a closer look at the new Vietnamese made Tombow Mono 100s.

Mystery solved – thank you, Lexikaliker.

I support his hypothesis that the blind code on the pencils is in the format YYMM. I bought most of my Mono 100s in 2009 and the blind codes of my Monos start with 08 and 09.

In case you wonder about my photo: After some of the original occupants of my Mono 100 case moved out the remaining Monos invited the two Faber brothers to move in.

 


Two deliveries – from Japan and Germany 2

uniqlo-tombow

What an exciting day. I got two deliveries, one from Japan and one from Germany.

Both seem to be XL... (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

Both seem to be XL… (Japan in green, Europe in yellow)

The parcel from Japan was sent from Yumiko, a friend of Sean, who helped me get a few things I couldn’t order myself …including Uniqlo’s Tombow t-shirts. I was able to get the Pelikan version here in Europe, but the Tombow version is not being sold here.

I was hoping that the Japanese XL will be similar in size to the European XL, especially since the t-shirts being sold here come with English/Japanese tags, but unfortunately it turned out that the Japanese XL is at least one size smaller than the European version – so the t-shirts won’t fit unless I lose a lot of weight. I guess I should see this as my incentive to lose more weight ..but I don’t think it’s achievable for me to fit into these anytime soon.

...the tags are different though

…the tags are different though

There was also something else in the parcel. Something very special.

Special Hi-uni

Not as posh as the ones shown on Contrapuntalism, but nevertheless extremely nice. Lexikaliker had similar ones, too.

 

The other parcel did contain a replacement Pollux. You might remember that had problems with my first Pollux. Thanks to Lexikaliker, without whom I wouldn’t have any Pollux, I got a replacement

Here’s a quick look at the replacement Pollux.

As a comparison: the second video features a knife sharpened pencil. You can also see Staedtler’s sand paper in the second video.

 

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph

A Pollux sharpened Mars Lumograph


Lexikaliker has a blog post about the unsharpened Mars Lumograph pencils.


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 archive.org 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.