Volkach


KUM Correc-Combi 10

Today I want to show you KUM’s Correc-Combi, a sharpener in an eraser case, which I bought this April for €2.79 (~$3.65; £2.25) in Müller in Volkach, Germany.

KUM's Correc-Combi opened

The eraser

The blade of the sharpener is fixed to a plastic body which in turn is encase by (quite a large) eraser. I am sure it will take quite a long time to use this eraser up.

KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica

The sharpener

The performance of the sharpener is quite good, certainly much better than the performance of KUM’s 400-1K. The sharpener produces thin shavings with an average thickness of 0.2 mm1.

 

KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica

I also saw a set square from Globus by KUM for 49c (~ 65¢; 40p) in the same shop and couldn’t resist buying it. You might remember the list of sharpening angles of the different sharpeners in the KUM 400-1K blog post. When I figured these angles out, two years ago, I didn’t have a set square – so this time figuring the angle out was much easier. With about 22° the sharpening angle of the KUM Correc-Combi is very similar to the sharpening angle of Möbius+Ruppert’s grenade.

Globus by KUM's set square

Conclusion

A very good sharpener/eraser combination. The lid fits well, despite being a ‘click in’ lid (no screw thread) . The performance of the eraser is similar to that of KUM’s Correc Stick. It could be better, but is by no means bad. The performance of the sharpener is quite good and overall this eraser/sharpener combo offers very good value for money.

KUM's Correc Stick, KUM's Correc-Combi and Staedtler's norica

 


Prices: April 2012
Exchange rates: May 2012

I would like to thank Hen Chung from RAH for the Staedtler norica 132 46 HB you can see on the photos. It’s the less purple version with blind stamped “SRP”2.

The Correc-Combi is part of KUM’s Blue Ocean series. You can read a review of KUM’s Blue Ocean pencil set at pencil talk. You can also read a review of Staedtler’s norica at pencil talk.

In a previous blog post I wrote about Faber-Castell’s sharpener-eraser pen.

  1. I recently bought a calliper in Lidl, so I thought the thickness of the shavings would be a good thing to measure, especially since Lexikaliker mentions the thickness of shavings in his blog. []
  2. My more purple version is blind stamped “SRL”. []

Schwanberg and the Pencil Cedar 6

The 'town' of Castell

In the 12th century my home town, Volkach, became part of the county of Castell, which belonged to – you might have guessed – the Counts of Castell1. Quite a bit later, in 1896, Alexander Graf zu Castell-Rüdenhausen married Ottilie Freiin von Faber and the name of the pencil manufacturer Faber changed to Faber-Castell.

Except this link to Faber-Castell there isn’t really much of a “pencil link” in the surrounding area of Volkach. All the exiting pencil stuff is happening about 100 km further South where you’d find the big pencil manufacturers like Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Schwan-Stabilo and Lyra.

 

Some branches the forest's caretaker removed. He also cut other trees nearby to give the Pencil Cedars more space.

 

I wrote there isn’t much of a “pencil link” here – well, the area around my home town can boast with one other link to the world of pencils, even though it is rather unknown. Trees from North America were planted in Germany to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production …and some of them were planted on Schwanberg2, an elevation not far from the town of Castell, by the Counts of Castell – to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production. The trees brought over from North America were the Pencil Cedar (juniperus virginiana) and the Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus). You can still find some of the Pencil Cedars near Castell. 100 years ago there were also many well established Pencil Cedars North East of Faber-Castell’s home town, Stein, planted by Faber, which probably didn’t survive3. These trees are not really used any more for pencil production, but if you have an old pencil that is more than 70 years old, the wood might be from a Pencil Cedar.

The Schwanberg, seen from Volkach



More about the Pencil Cedars at Lexikaliker’s blog post “Der Graphit” (German) (Link to the Google Translation)

  1. At that time it actually wasn’t a town yet, but documents show that by 1258 it was a town (‘in civitate nostra Volka’). []
  2. The Schwanberg isn’t really a hill, but an elevation (474m / 1555 feet) – about 200m above the surrounding area. According to legend Saint Hadeloga (sometimes called Adeloga or Hadla) built an abbey (nunnery) on Schwanberg. She was the daughter of Karl Martell (Charles the Hammer). He repudiated her when she vowed virginity (so she is not mentioned very often in history) but they reconciled many years later. She is actually an aunt of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, and she is the patron saint for fever. []
  3. This tree was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century. Faber is supposed to have planted, between several thousand and several tens of thousands of these trees in the 19th century, depending on which source you check. I assume many must have survived outside Schwanberg, but it is unknown how many are left and where they are. One of Lexikaliker’s blog posts indicates that the trees planted by Faber near Nuremberg did not survive. Other Pencil Cedars planted in Germany did not survive either. []

Faber-Castell TK-Fine 13

Today: a mechanical pencil – The Faber-Castell TK-Fine, which is – despite the similar name – quite different to the TK-Fine Vario L, discussed by Dave. or the TK-Fine Executive, also reviewed by Dave.

Price-wise the TK-Fine is only about a third of the price of the TK-Fine Vario L. The TK-Fine is also slighlty cheaper than the Executive version, but this price difference is not that big.

All of the different TK-Fine pencils come in Faber-Castell’s famous dark green colour you know from the Castell 9000, but the TK-Fine version does not have the twist eraser, nor does it have (adjustable) lead cushioning. Another difference is that the Vario has a grooved metal grip area and that the Executive has a similar plastic grip while the TK-Fine‘s grip area is very much like the Apollo‘s. The Apollo has unfortunately disappeared, but a few weeks ago Lexikaliker had a post about the Apollo (Google translation of Lexikaliker’s Apollo post) and he was even kind enough to give his Apollo to an artist whose Apollo broke after 15 years of intense use.

…but the grip is not the only similarity between the Apollo and the TK-Fine. Let’s have a closer look at the similarities and differences between the Apollo and the TK-Fine.

The Apollo was available from 1983 until 2000. Different version can be seen in Lexikaliker’s post and in my opinion the Apollo XL looks just beautiful!

The TK-Fine has been available for over ten years and looks very similar, the main difference in appearance being the different top cap. It is actually being manufactured using the same tools that were used to make the Apollo, but the TK-Fine is made for technical drawings with a rigid, but fully-retractable lead sleeve, similar to the one you might know from Staedtler’s Mars micro. The Apollo on the other hand was made for writing and had a sliding sleeve that retracts as the pencil is used.

The TK-Fine is being produced in Geroldsgrün in Upper Franconia (Germany) available in 0.35mm (TK-Fine 9713), 0.5mm (9715), 0.7mm (9717) and 1.0mm (9719) and has an according top cap marked according to the ISO norm for technical drawing.

I bought the TK-Fine 9717 in April 2010 in Müller in Volkach (Germany) for €4,39 (~$5.80; £3.70) and the TK-Fine 9715 from Schule-Uni-Shop.de, who also ship internationally, for € 2,67 (~$3.50; £2.25). The price in the UK is comparatively high: At CultPens TK-Fine sells for £4.16 (~$6.50; €4.90).

Conclusion:

The TK-Fine offers great value for money if you find a shop that sells it for a reasonable price, but since it is not a common pencil you might have problems getting hold of one.It comes with 3 super-polymer leads in HB, offers a pocket-safe lead sleeve (fully-retractable), it is colour coded according to ISO for lead width, it has an adjustable lead-grade indicator (2B – 4H, plus one neutral setting) and the eraser comes with a cleaning pin.


Prices: April 2010 and November 2010

Exchange Rates: December 2010

I would like to thank Ms Schaklies from Faber-Castell Customer Care for the additional information about the TK-Fine.

By the way… Faber-Castel made it into the Economist again. This time into the Economist’s Schumpeter column, which was introduced about a year ago.


Eberhard Faber Lederetui 20

I think I should start this blog entry with a warning. If you expect this to be a pencil case review you might be slightly disappointed …there is a bit, but not too much, to be written about this pencil case, so to make this blog entry more substantial I will also talk a little bit about the Eberhard Faber brand and include a little bit of information about the pencils they offer in Europe. OK, let’s start:

When I was in Germany in April 2010 I bought this Eberhard Faber pencil case at the Müller store in Volkach, Lower Franconia. Müller is a drug store chain with shops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and other countries. The Müller shops I have seen so far had a nice selection of stationery.

Keeping the size of the shop in Volkach in mind they had a rather big stationery section. All the common products and brand were stocked …those that you would find in most shops in Germany, i.e. mainly Staedtler, Faber-Castell and for mechanical pencils the common Japanese brands as well.

You will also find some Lyra pencils, but don’t get your hopes up if you are looking for niche products. You will certainly find sharpeners, but if you are want a specific model not from Staedtler or Faber-Castell, but from Dux, M+S  or Eisen you will be disappointed …but to be fair: not many stationery shops stock these brands anyway.

One of the reasons why I bought this pencil case was to get it while it is still available. Eberhard Faber was an American brand, but was sold to Faber-Castell. Since the 1990s Sanford owns it and as far as I know Eberhard Faber products disappeared more or less completely in the USA. If this is not the case and Eberhard Faber articles are still available in the USA I would be grateful if you could let me know. Not uncommon in such a case: another company held the trademark for another geographic area, in this case Staedtler continued to use the Eberhard Faber name in Europe1. Recently Staedtler sold the Eberhard Faber trademark, which now belongs to Faber-Castell. My understanding is that current Eberhard Faber products will not completely disappear, but will instead be sold under the Staedtler name in the future.

Eberhard was the brother of Lothar von Faber, the great-great grandfather of Count Anton Wolfgang, the current CEO of Faber-Castell. Originally Eberhard managed the subsidiary in New York and later  he established his own company under his own name (see page 8 of the 2 / 2007 issue of Faber-Castell topics).

If you want to know more about the Eberhard Faber brand: page 5 of the 1/2010 issue of Faber-Castell topics has a great article about the history of the Eberhard Faber brand.

Back to the pencil case. The pencil case was €14.99 ($19.90, £ 12.45) and is filled with 17 pencils (all of them triangular shaped), an eraser, a ruler, a sharpener, 6 ink cartridges and a timetable. The material of the pencil case is real leather, but unfortunately the leather is rather thin. Four of the pencils are the Tricki Dicki highlighter pencils in neon colours: yellow, orange, green and red. The pencil case was available in three different colours: tan, black and maroon, the one I bought. Just for your information: In Germany maroon is usually referred to as “Bordeaux red”.

Eberhard Faber Tricki Dicki highlighter pencils

Although possibly not the best choice of name for English speaking countries, these pencils work very well, but like all highlighter pencils they cover written or printed letters to some extent. They look very similar to the Staedtler textsurfer dry, so I assume the Tricki Dicki and the textsurfer dry might actually be the same pencil. The circles, stars and triangles printed on the Tricki Dicki pencils can also be found on Staedtler’s new learner’s pencil. I could not find a direct equivalent to the other colour pencils from the pencil case in Staedtler’s product range. The most similar pencil seems to be the Staedtler ergosoft, but unlike the ergosoft, the Eberhard Faber 1410 colour pencils do not have ABS coating.

Eberhard Faber colour pencils 1410

The sharpener that comes with the pencil case is the Möbius+Ruppert double hole magnesium sharpener 0211. The white eraser that you get does not have anything printed on it.

Möbius+Ruppert double hole magnesium sharpener 0211

The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is a tri-fold pencil case with the fold-out part containing a timetable on one side and the ruler, the ink cartridges and three 1210 pencils on the other side.

I am not sure whether there is an equivalent pencil that is being sold under the Staedtler name. If there is one it might be the triangular Noris Club.

The Eberhard Faber 1210 pencils are very nice indeed, rather dark and not scratchy. They do however look relatively boring and I have to admit that I am less of a fan of triangular pencils than most other people.

Eberhard Faber 1210 - Faber Castell 9000 - California Republic Palomino

Eberhard Faber 1210 pencil

Conclusion:

The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is great value for money. You get quite a few pencil and a nice sharpener for your money. Compared to high-end pencil cases like the Sonnenleder Lasse it does however feel a bit flimsy and the leather, even though it is real leather, feels quite plasticy. This pencil case is being sold to school children, therefore the thin leather makes me wonder whether the pencil case will survive very long in the real world… Nevertheless I am sure it will last for a long time if you look after it.

Links:

Staedtler press release about selling the Eberhard Faber trademark to Faber-Castell

Price: April 2010

Exchange rates: August 2010

  1. This reminds me of Grundig, I mentioned them recently in another blog entry []