Happy Belgian National Day!

Belgium. Home of our president, home of The Pencil Case Blog, home of the chips (and moules-frites), home of SG-1′s favourite toy, home of many fantastic comic artists and comic strips1, home of some crazy music and home to some of the best2 notebooks in the world…

…and today is the Belgian National Day!

In a perfect world I’d now show you a picture of a Belgian pencil sharpened with a Belgian blade. Unfortunately I have to make do with no Belgian pencil, but at least some fantastic Belgian paper. For the photo I could even choose between different brands, but I picked Atoma paper. Regarding the blade, I chose a Dutch one, from Apeldoorn – the Netherlands is a neighbour of Belgium. About the pencil, I chose a German one, again it’s a neighbour of Belgium, plus the National Day “commemorates the day on which Leopold I took the constitutional oath as the first King of Belgium, on July 21st 1831″3. Leopold I of Belgium was born in Coburg, which is in Franconia – and this pencil was made in Franconia, too. Happy Belgian National Day



  1. from Macherot, Turk, Morris, Hergé, Peyo, … []
  2. imho []
  3. see http://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/country/belgium_in_nutshell/symbols/national_holiday/ []
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Happy Independence Day!

As a pencileer, molyvophile and molyvologue1 I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than to sharpen an American pencil with an American blade.

…but which pencil to choose? In the end I narrowed it down to the Mongol and the Ticonderoga. As these pencils where also made in other countries I obviously only put the American made versions on the short list.

Independence Day Mongols

In the end I did go with the Ticonderoga, just because I thought Faber-Castell takes some of the emphasis on the USA away. So, the chosen pencil is the Dixon’s American Ticonderoga. I did have a few of them in stock, but haven’t actually used them yet. My Ticonderoga experience so far was limited to the ‘Korean’ Ticonderogas, the awful Ticonderoga Renew and the Microban Ticonderogas.

Independence Day Ticonderoga

The knife was easy to choose, my Leatherman Style CS …just because it is the only knife I own that is, as far as I know, made in the United States of America.

Independence Day Leatherman

OK, let’s start sharpening. Because I only have a few of these American made Ticonderogas I want a less acute angle than usual – I just don’t want to waste too much of the nice pencil.

Independence Day Sharpening

I don’t want to go for a proper obtuse angle either, as that would probably be a very strange writing experience.

Independence Day Point

Here way are. By the way, the American blade was sharpened with something American, too: The Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, which could also be used to sharpen blades of pencil sharpeners.

Independence Day Point Close

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Idependence DayAs usual, please click on the pictures to see them in a higher resolution.

  1. See explanation in this blog post. []
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Noris of the Woods

More Noris spotting!

I was lucky enough to spot several Staedtler Noris pencils in the BBC’s national and regional news in the last couple of days. One of the regional news clips was even filmed just around the corner.

…but Sean has sent me an even more exciting Noris spotting:
The 6-part series from the BBC called The Story of England by Michael Woods features Staedtler pencils in several shots. Here’s a photo from this series, featuring a Welsh-made Noris.

Image © Maya Vision / BBC

Image © Maya Vision / BBC

I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Noris pencil, taken from Michael Wood’s Story of England falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

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Uncle Noris

As you might have guessed after reading The Noris, then and now or any of the other Seen in the wild posts: I’m always happy when I see the Staedtler Noris on somebody’s desk or in a shop (not really worth a blog post: “Did you know, my local bank is using Noris pencils”) or on telly (probably more interesting for you, so maybe worth a blog post).

Last time I spotted a Noris was in Episode 3 of Uncle. You could admire the Noris in Nick Helm’s right and left hand and in his mouth (maybe the production company  shouldn’t have picked the bacon flavoured Noris).

Uncle (Image © Baby Cow Productions / BBC)

Uncle (Image © Baby Cow Productions / BBC)

I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Noris pencil, taken from episode three of the first season of the TV series Uncle falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

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Recycled money pencil

Welcome to the 251st post.

Money pencil


This time: a pencil made from recycled money. My colleague Dr. Mitchell Larson saw this pencil while visiting another university and brought one back.

made from recycled money


Recycled money

A quick search on the Internet shows that many British suppliers of promotional pencils stock this green, recycled pencil. I am not sure whether it’s made from recycled Pound notes (less likely) or whether the colour is supposed to indicate that it is made form recycled Dollar bills (more likely). This is probably the same pencil as the one seen on Pencil Revolution in 2006. In any case, the pencil doesn’t feel as if it’s made from pure, recycled cotton paper. It’s much too hard and dense for that. I’d speculate that it’s made from plastic banknotes if I wouldn’t think it’s made from Dollar bills. Another explanation for the plasticy consistency, one which seems more likely, might be that the consistency of the recycled notes is just not right to be made into a pencil - so the recycled material might have had to be mixed with another material. Maybe there’s an even more exciting explanation: maybe the recycled notes had to be mixed with another material to make it impossible to use this pencil to forge money. Lots of speculation, but in the end it doesn’t matter why: this pencil is much more similar to a Staedtler Wopex or to a BIC ecolutions evolution than to a pencil made from rolled paper, like the ones shown in the battle of the eco pencils.

The pencil itself is round. I mention this because there is an older, hexagonal version - the one made from $7.33 of recycled Dollars.

Factory sharpened

Factory sharpened

The lead

The lead behaves and feels similar to the BIC ecolutions evolution, it’s just a bit less waxy. It’s definitely worse than a Staedtler Wopex, it’s not as dark and more plasticy, but much better than the catastrophic pencils made from recycled CD cases, which are widely used as promotional pencils. I’m not even looking for the CD case pencils on purpose, but have already come across four different ones. Two of them were left by students in different rooms in our university. I can’t blame them for not wanting to write with these pencils.

Sharpened using a Dux 9207-N

Sharpened using a DUX 9207-N


The Dux 9207-N

The Dux 9207-N

In a good sharpener, in this case the DUX 9207-N, sharpening the recycled money pencil is effortless. Despite being made from a material that seems quite a bit harder than wood the sharpener didn’t struggle at all. When sharpening the recycled money pencil in a ‘not so good’ sharpener or one where use has resulted in a blunt blade sharpening needs more effort than your average wood cased pencil.

Since we’re just talking about the sharpener anyway, the DUX 9207-N is a very nice sharpener, made from black Bakelite. As far as I know this sharpener has been first produced in the 1940s. You can sometimes see people on eBay trying to sell new versions of this sharpener as antiques. The DUX sharpens with an angle of ~20°. Please take the time to click on the picture of the sharpener to see the delicate, sophisticated pattern on the lid of the sharpener in higher resolution.



Some pencils made from recycled materials are truly awful. This pencil isn’t one of them. The fact that it’s made from recycled money makes it an interesting novelty. The lead is usable, even though it’S not as good as the best pencils made from recycled materials.


Tested on Banditapple 3G paper

Tested on Banditapple 3G paper


I’d like to thank Lexikaliker for getting me the Dux 9207-N sharpener. I couldn’t find it in any local shops.

I’d like to thank Dr. Mitchell Larson for the recycled money pencil.

A recycled money pencil has been recently mentioned in the Erasable podcast, probably in Episode 5.

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