A Prototype! The Kaweco AL Sport Stonewashed Pencil

Kaweco AL Sport stonewashed pencil prototype

Kaweco’s AL Sport stonewashed series

Having used Kaweco’s AL Sport stonewashed fountain pen since 2014 I thought that a stonewashed pencil might look rather nice, too. Unfortunately, the ‘Stonewashed series’ only includes a fountain pen, a ballpen (that the official name) and a rollerball – no mechanical pencil (or push pencil, the name used by Kaweco).

Kaweco AL Sport stonewashed pencil prototype

No pencil

The ballpen and the push pencil look very similar, so I thought it might be possible to simply use the AL Sport pencil mechanism in the ballpen body, but that would mean having to buy the ballpen even though I wouldn’t use it – and it’s just guesswork that the parts would fit, so earlier this year, in February, I contacted Michael Gutberlet from Kaweco asking whether there is or will be a AL Sport stonewashed pencil. I had his contact details from an earlier email exchange in 2013, when Michael Marzani from Just Another Pen and I were discussing the brass body of the Kaweco Liliput he reviewed in his blog. As part of the discussion Michael Marzani contacted Michael Gurberlet, who was providing information about the brass he used for this pen.

Great balance: The centre of gravity is slightly towards the front

Great balance: The centre of gravity is slightly towards the front

 

A prototype

To my surprise Michael Gutberlet then made a Prototype1 for me. I got the impression that the main issue when creating this pen  was the push button, but since I don’t have an AL Sport ballpen I can’t really comment how much the ballpen and the pencil’s push button differ. I assume the top looks the same, but the button is different, probably because the pencil push button is held by the lead pipe, but the ballpen push button is on the click mechanism – but this is pure speculation. Michael Gutberlet seems to be very hands-on with the pens he creates, so as far as I know he made this prototype himself. He also finishes each Lilliput Fireblue fountain pen individually. Massdrop is currently selling them for $139.

In March 2016, when the pencil was ready, I was contacted by Sabine Götz – and she called it a prototype – how exciting! The word prototype hadn’t been mentioned before, so that was a very exciting moment. I guess this makes this pencil a one of a kind.

I also got a bill. The pencil was a bit more expensive than the AL Sport stonewashed fountain pen I bought a few years ago, but that was more down to the fact that I found a shop that sold it for a good price. I guess what I paid for the pencil is similar to what the official retail price for an AL Sport stonewashed pencil would be.

Kaweco AL Sport stonewashed pencil prototype

The pencil

Shape and lead

The pencil itself is quite stubby, but all Kaweco Sport push pencils are, so I knew what I was getting. Nevertheless, I think the stubbiness makes the pencil less elegant than the fountain pen version. The pencil takes 0.7 mm leads. According to the mini manual that came with the pen there seem to be versions of the Sport pencil in 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.9 mm and 2 mm, but I don’t think I ever saw the Sport in 0.5 mm.

Pencil and fountain pen

Pencil and fountain pen

Clip

I ordered a clip for the pencil so that I can transport it easily. Pen Heaven had the best price I could find in the UK, £1.99 (~$2.90; €2.50), including postage. I do use the pen with the clip, but that does make rotating the pen (and using the lead up from all sides) more difficult.

Kaweco AL Sport stonewashed pencil prototype

Material

The pen itself feels solid and feels like it’s mainly made from metals (mainly aluminium) or metal alloys (the mechanism?), but the lead pipe is made of clear, slightly flexible plastic. The push button gets stuck on this pipe (friction fit). There is no eraser in this pencil.

Kaweco AL Sport stonewashed pencil prototype

The plastic pipe for the leads

Lead

According to the manual you can store two leads in the pipe. You might think that, as with mechanical pencils from many decades ago, you can store leads in the space between the pipe and the body, but you would only be able to store leads with a length of about 2 cm there, so this space is more or less ‘wasted’.

By the way, my wife was very impressed by the lead the pencil came with. Her comments were: ‘creamy and buttery, soft, but does not smudge’. That is high praise coming from her as she doesn’t like leads that smudge …so the Lamy Scribble’s original leads had to go. Her dislike for smudgy leads goes so far that she is using H leads in a pencil that is used for an Atoma notebook (H is actually great with Atoma’s paper).

Pencil and fountain pen

Pencil and fountain pen

Numbers

A quick look at the dimensions of the pen:

It is hexagonal and has a diameter of 13 mm (just over half an inch) – much wider than most mechanical and wood cased pencil. For comparison: the current Noris has a diameter of 6.8 mm. The pens length is 10.8 cm and it has a weight of 29 g (just over one ounce).

This blog post has been brought to you by Kryten and the Jupiter Mining Corporation: If you don't gosub a programme loop you never get a subroutine

This blog post has been brought to you by Kryten and the Jupiter Mining Corporation – Kryten’s wide words: If you don’t gosub a programme loop you never get a subroutine

Daily use and overall verdict

I have used this pencil for a while now, together with the AL Sport stonewashed fountain pen. Together they are such a nice pair. I have to say that I always preferred using the pencil, despite its stubiness. I find the pencil’s look much less attractive than the stonewashed fountain pen’s elegance, but because it is instantly ready it was my pen of choice – there is no cap that needs to be taken off and posted first.

Overall this is a great pencil, even though I would prefer a slimmer, longer version. I wonder whether this stonewashed pencil (not my imaginary slimmer, longer version) will be available in shops in the future. I guess the original problem was that different pen parts need ‘stonewashing’ for different lengths of time, but now that there is a prototype (and a recipe how long its parts need ‘stonewashing’) it should be easier to make more stonewashed pencils.

Regarding the stonewashing: I have to add that my fountain pen has a better stonewashed effect, but this might be caused by the different shape of the parts (or, less likely, the different paint). The question now is whether Kaweco sells enough pencils to think it’s worth offering an AL Sport stonewashed pencil.

There's an old android saying which has particular relevance here: If you don't gosub a programme loop you never get a subroutine (Kryten/Red Dwarf)

Magnified from the previous photo: The AL Sport in action


Price: March / April 2016

Exchange rates: May 2016

I would like to thank Michael Gutberlet for making this prototype for me.

Dries has a review of the RAW version of this pencil.

The Massdrop link contains a friend invitation code.

  1. A real prototype 8^) not like this year’s April Fools Day Prototype. Kaweco and Prototype, that reminds me of SBRE Brown’s blog post and video about the Kaweco Ranger, which, as far as I know, is not a prototype, but one of the first models released after Kaweco became Gutberlet owned. Unless of course the reviewed set was a prototype for the Ranger series that was available in the 1990s. []

The Power of the Pen

Well, I was dreaming there’s a new pencil grade: ‘L’, for use in libraries …because it’s quieter to write with than HB.

I guess that was because yesterday evening I listened to BBC Radio 4’s The Power of the Pen.


Pencil Pot Of The Month – April 2016 2

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Description: A can of Coke

Price: <£1 (~<$1.40; <€1.30)

Material: Aluminium or tin-plated steel

Further information: Comes with a free drink.

I have used drink cans as pen pots since the 1980s. Here’s a little making of:

IMG_20160225_110257

 


Price and exchange rates: April 2016


BUBM pen roll 7

BUBM pen roll

Just a very quick post showing you my new pen roll. I’ll call it BUBM pen roll, just because there’s a BUBM1 logo on the roll.  My pen roll was advertised as a “Cable Organizer Roll Up Bag Storage Case for Tool Batteries Pen Earphone”.

BUBM pen roll

I bought it for £3.59 (~$5.15; €4.55) from eBay, including postage. The same item was being sold for a lower price by other sellers, but these cheaper ones would have come directly from China and would have taken a long time, this one was already in the UK.

Difficult to see, but the URL bubmcase.com is printed on the green surface

Difficult to see, but the URL bubmcase.com is printed on the green surface

Material-wise it reminds me very much of Nock products. I compared it to the Nock pen case I have. The Nock product does look more sophisticated, but I can’t say I am surprised ..and for the price I paid the BUBM pen roll is extremely good value for money and quite well made.

BUBM pen roll

If you use it for pens it will usually be big enough, but very long unsharpened pencils, like the TiTi Kyung In T-Prime in the photo above, are a bit longer than the 17cm of the case.

I noticed that some of my pens and pencil slid out of the pen case when the roll wasn’t stored horizontally in my backpack – only wider pens and those with a rougher surface (unpainted pencils) stayed where they were. The surface of painted pencils doesn’t seem to have enough friction and pencils are rather slim, so they won’t be held in place – unless you put a lot of them in one slot – so if this was a dedicated pen roll it would make sense to have narrower slots, but as this is more of an all purpose pen roll the wider slots make more sense.

BUBM pen roll

Well, let’s go a bit off topic then and look at other uses for this pen roll.

Off topic: Swiss army knives

Here’s an example where I used the pen roll for Swiss knives. I’ll go even more off topic by giving a short explanation of each of the knives.

BUBM pen roll

 

The first knife from the left is an Elinox. Elinox was Victorinox’s economy line and this is the last knife my father used at work. I don’t know what happened to the ones he had before, maybe they were too ‘used up’ and he got rid of them. This one’s blade is pretty ground down from sharpening it with the tools in his joinery. As a kid I was so used to Elinox knives that I thought the Elinox logo is the ‘normal’ logo for Swiss army knives. When I first saw a Victorinox I thought they must have recently changed the logo. I also thought only the real posh knives come with tooth picks and tweezers, because Elinox knives didn’t have those.

The second knife form the left is a Swiss Cheese Knife from Victorinox. I got it a few years ago when Switzerland Cheese Marketing AG sent them out for free if you bought Swiss Cheese and sent them the bar codes, plus postage. Luckily this promotion was open world wide, so I could send them bar codes from cheese i bought here in the UK, I just had to send them together with the postage in Swiss Franks.

The third knife from the left is a normal Vicorinox Spartan. Maybe my father’s Sunday knife, but I should date it to be sure.

The fourth knife from the left is Wenger‘s equivalent of the Spartan, I think it’s called Hunter. My wife got it many years ago, but she already had a similar one so I got it.

The last knife is a Swiza. This is the D04 version. which has a screw driver instead of a cork screw. Swiza only started selling knives similar to the well known Swiss army knives a few months ago.
A quick note on the link Victorinox – Wenger- Swiza: Victorinox and Wenger make/made Swiss army knives, but Swiza, originally a clock manufacturer, is fairly new to the world of knives. Their knives have not (yet) been used by the army, so Swiss folding knives might be a better term to describe Swiza’s knives. Like Wenger they are from the Canton of Jura.
A few years ago Victorinox bought Wenger. In the last few months two things happened:  Victorinox started selling Wenger knives under their own Victorinox name (Delémont Collection) and a former Wenger CEO has started to make knives again, now under the Swiza brand.
To be honest: the Swiza knives look better on pictures than in reality. They aren’t bad knives at all, but what makes them interesting is probably the fact that they are new. For use in the UK they are not great as they have locking blades which means they are “illegal to carry in public without good reason”.

Please let me know if you liked the off topic part of this post and whether you’d like more or less off topic, i.e. not stationery related, bits like this in the future

 


Price and exchange rates: April 2016

You can see Lexikaliker’s small black and red and big Swiss army knives on his blog.

Dave has also shown his knives in the past.

 

You can also catch a glimpse of another one of my knives in a previous blog post.

  1. BUBM stands for Be Unique Be Myself, with it being an imperative I would have gone for Be Unique Be Yourself. []

Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil 8

Welcome to my blog post about the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil, which was provided for free by The Pen Company. This blog post has also been published on their blog.

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50 years of the Lamy 2000

The Lamy 2000 was first released in 1966 so this year is its 50th anniversary – and after several special editions covering materials like grenadill wood, ceramic, titanium, and more, we can expect a new special edition in 2016. I went ahead and compiled a list of the special editions so far, which can be seen at the still unnamed pen wiki. I checked with the company that handles the launch of the 50 years Lamy 2000 special edition. They checked with Lamy and I was told that the list is complete. I wonder whether someone has all of them. Maybe the person who bought the Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson special edition in red?

 

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The material

It’s still not clear how the special edition will look, but however it looks, the ‘normal’ edition is stunning in itself. The main body is made from Makrolon (polycarbonate) and the surface is brushed, which means that use over time will slowly start to polish the surface and it will become shinier. This reminds me very much of Lexikaliker’s ‘beauty through use’ post (Translation / Original). It is a beautiful concept and idea and just one of the things I love about the Lamy 2000.

The surface of the Lamy 2000 in the middle changed after years of use.

The surface of the Lamy 2000 in the middle changed after years of use.

The Lamy 2000 Fountain pen

Even though I’ve been using Lamy (Safari) fountain pens since the 1980s, I only bought my first Lamy 2000 fountain pen in 2008. The most expensive fountain pen I had before that was probably a Parker, which was less than half the 2000’s price. Before I bought it I was looking at the 2000 pen for several months before I decided that it’s worth the €89.95(~$102; £72) it cost back then, and in the end I got this pen as a Christmas gift that year from my wife. It’s a great pen! After I got it, it was the only fountain pen I used for a very long time. One unusual thing about my 2000 fountain pen is the enormous ink flow you get if you start using a bit of force. The M nibbed one I have is like this, but I wouldn’t know whether all Lamy 2000 in M are like that. Well, I liked this pen so much that I bought an EF version a bit later, mainly because of the fairly big line variation I got from my version in M.

Lamy 2000 fountain pen and mechanical pencil

Lamy 2000 fountain pen and mechanical pencil

Even today, after Lamy has increased their prices a few times, they provide excellent value for money. You won’t find many piston fillers with a gold nib for the price the Lamy 2000 fountain pen sells for – and you’ll find even fewer fountain pens as handsome as the Lamy 2000, especially not for this price.

The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

The Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil

Well, technically it’s not really the 50th anniversary of the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil; even though the fountain pen was released in 1966 the mechanical pencil was only added in 1970 (and the ballpoint pen in 1968).

Despite loving wood-cased and mechanical pencils, and despite the good reviews out there, I hadn’t had the pleasure of using a Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil until I got one from The Pen Company in January 2016.

lamy2000pencil7

 

Vitals

My first impressions: the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil was much lighter than expected. I know these numbers won’t mean much to most readers, but in case you want to compare it to another pen, here are the vitals: The length of the pen is just under 14cm, with the thickest part of the barrel having a diameter of 12mm. The weight is just under 19g. The centre of gravity is very much in the middle as you can see from the picture where the 2000 is balanced on a type.

What a well-balanced pencil!

What a well-balanced pencil!

Look and Feel

One of the other things I noticed first was that the Lamy 2000 pencil is much slimmer than the Lamy 2000 fountain pen version. As I was used to the thickness of the fountain pen version I did initially find the mechanical pencil too slim, but by now I like it the way it is. The clip has a similar design as the fountain pen, but again, is slimmer. This is a good thing as many users of mechanical pencils will rotate them in their hand, so a slimmer clip makes it less obtrusive when it rests on the purlicue between the thumb and index finger. You’ll still notice the clip in your hand though, because the corners are not rounded – the clip is still quite noticeable and can even be distracting.

The clip

The clip

If you write using a fairly acute angle, i.e. if you hold the pencil very flat, the pencil’s body can still be too wide, especially when writing near the spine in a notebook where the pages don’t lie flat. In that case, the body of the pen can touch the paper, making writing difficult – but this issue doesn’t usually occur.

The grip section

The grip section

The good thing about the cap is that it fits quite firmly on the pen and there is no danger of it falling off by mistake. I mention this because the cap of the my Caran d’Ache 844 is quite loose and can come off easily.

lamy2000pencil6

 

Speaking of the cap: the 5 on the cap seems to be laser etched, similar to what you get on some keyboards, so I don’t expect the 5 to rub off anytime soon.

lamy2000pencil2

 

Conclusion

This is a great mechanical pencil. I am sure I will enjoy it for many years to come. Since I got it, it has been my most used mechanical pencil.

The fountain pen and the mechanical pencil – easy to distinguish in your shirt pocket

The fountain pen and the mechanical pencil – easy to distinguish in your shirt pocket


Price: 2008

Exchange rates: April 2016

I would like to thank The PenCompany for providing this pen free of charge for this review.

You can find more about the origins of the Lamy 2000 design on the Fountain Pen Network.

Dave has a review of the Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil too.

If you like the Lamy 2000, have a look at the Lamy Scribble, as well.

lamy2000pencilshirt1