Visiting Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory 3

While in Germany in August this year I was given the chance to part in a factory tour at Staedtler’s factory in Nuremberg. These factory tours are taking place nearly every day, but the audience seems to be predominantly school children. Unfortunately photography was not allowed for most of the tour, so there aren’t many pictures to show.

Staedtler factory tour

Lead production

Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory is just short of an hour’s drive from my home town. Here in Nuremberg they make the leads for wood cased pencils and coloured pencils, They also make mechanical pencils and lots of other pens, like the Triplus, the Pigment Liner and the Lumocolor, just to name a few.

I was able to see how the leads are made, which was very exciting, but unfortunately I didn’t see the wood cased pencil production, as it takes place in the Staedtler factory in Neumarkt, approximately 50 km (30 miles) South East of Nuremberg.

The leads for all Staedtler pencils are made in the Nuremberg factory. That means that if, for example, you buy a Thai-made Staedtler Minerva the lead is still from Nuremberg. Not all leads are the same though. They all use Bavarian graphite and German clay, but the better ones get, for example, a much longer oil bath.

Seeing how fast the machines make the coloured Triplus (running day and night thanks to the adult colouring boom) compared to t how long it takes to make the leads for the pencils I wonder how it is possible to produce the pencils for such a low price.

By the way, I asked which lead is most popular, after HB. After asking around Mr Rüdel, the tour guide and Staedtler expert, told me that the second most popular lead is 2B. I am not too surprised, since many people seem to like soft leads, but on the other hand some of Staedtler’s pencils are not available in 2B, so you’d think B might be more popular…

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler's history in the Staedtler Museum

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler’s history in the Staedtler Museum

Eberhard Faber and Neumarkt

The Neumarkt factory used to be the German Eberhard Faber factory1, until Staedtler bought it in the 1970s.

One of the reasons Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber company was the fact that consumers associate “Eberhard Faber” with “Faber-Castell”, so in 2009 Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber name and trademarks to Faber-Castell, who are now using it to sell their cheaper, lower quality products. Staedtler did however keep the Neumarkt factory and they are making wood cased pencils and leads for mechanical pencils there.

Staedtler factory tour

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of a factory tour and would like to thank Mr Rüdel who showed us around and who answered all my questions patiently, showing great knowledge of all things Staedtler. I would also like to thank Ms Förster who also answered many of my questions, Mr Schindler, who told me about the factory tours, and Mr Hufnagl, who took the time to say hello, despite being so busy.

 

  1. which was independent of the American Eberhard Faber company []

Star Trek stamps 3

startrek-stamps

Me as a Klingon in the 1990s. Digital Cameras have certainly improved since then.

Me as a Klingon in the 1990s. Digital Cameras have certainly improved since then.

Today: something different.

 

Time flies. In my room I used to have a poster from Star Trek’s 25th anniversary. Now it’s already the 50th anniversary.

 

I didn’t know, but the US Postal Service has released Star Trek stamps for this anniversary and Sean was not only kind enough to tell me about it, he also got me some.

Thank you very much!

 


In a Belgian Supermarket 2

Last month we1 went to my home town in Northern Bavaria2.

In the past we used to take the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, an easier drive3, but recently this ferry got really expensive. We have neither too much time, nor too much money, so deciding wasn’t easy, but in the end we went with the cheaper option: going through Dover to France. This option was much cheaper than what the ferry we used to take costs now, but the drawback is that it involves two whole days of travelling (driving from North West England to South East England, then taking the ferry to France and then driving through Belgium and the Netherlands into Germany (driving through four different German states. Bavaria for example is more than twice the size of Belgium, but within a country there usually isn’t much variation, so there aren’t too many new things to discover, compared to driving through another country. Saying that, there was a new part of the motorway in Germany which was quite nice. On the side of the motorway you can see all the ‘trees of the year’ from the previous decades and a sign showing the name and the year for that tree.).

Well, it’s a little adventure that, as an added bonus, contains the opportunity to buy cool stationery and other items I can’t get in the UK or Germany (except stationery this was mainly caramel tea and flavoured Perrier).

So here’s a mini blog post about a visit to a Belgian supermarket: Carrefour, a French chain that is present in many countries. They used to sell their own Rhodia clones, but I haven’t seen those in recent years anymore.

This being Belgium the main attraction was to stock up on Atoma style notebooks – and the Belgian supermarket didn’t disappoint.

Atome-style notebooks

Atome-style notebooks

They also had a surprising amount of retro video game hardware. I found that very cool as I used to collect retro video games. I did/do have an interest in this: Fifteen years ago some friends from Singapore and I were running the biggest Gameboy web site at that time (called EAGB)4.

In a Belgian Supermarket

There was also a great choice of Lucky Luke comics. A big proportion of German shops selling magazine will sell Lucky Luke comics, but you wouldn’t get the choice you got in this supermarket – unless you go to a specialist shop. The photo I took on the day was blurred, so I’ll just skip adding it to this blog post.

…and finally: flavoured sparkling water. In the UK flavoured water has sweetener in it, basically making it lemonade, but in Belgium you can get Perrier with all sorts of flavour. Nice. I know these from Shanghai, but in Belgium they are much cheaper.

In a Belgian Supermarket

  1. My family and I. []
  2. Franconia []
  3. Without packing you travel 1 12 days []
  4. I still have an interest, but no time – my free time is mainly spend on stationery now. []

Pencil Pot Of The Month – August 2016

Description: A pencil pot that looks like a wheelie bin

Price: £2 (~$2.63; €2.35) for a black or a red one

Material: Plastic

Wheelie bin pencil pots

Wheelie bin pencil pots

Further information: Seen in a Tiger store. Tiger is a Danish retail chain. I’ve bought stationery there in the past. In one of his videos TJ Cosgrove mentioned that he is using their notebooks, but I haven’t tried those yet. While in the shop anyway I bought their copy of Google Cardboard for £3.

Some other stationery they were promoting

Some other stationery they were promoting


Price and exchange rates: August 2016


Pencil production on TV

This wood will become Wopex material

This wood will become Wopex material (Image © Pro7)

Earlier this month I was in Germany and was lucky enough to have been part of a Staedtler factory tour in Nuremberg.

Sharpening the pencils

Sharpening the pencils (Image © Pro7)

Staedtler’s pencils are actually made or assembled in Neumarkt, but the leads are from Nuremberg, so even though I wasn’t able to see the pencils being made I was able to see how the leads are being made there …but more about this another time.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 16.20.24

(Image © Pro7)

I am mentioning this because Mr Rüdel, who showed us around, told me about a clip from a TV programme that has recently been filmed in the factory. You can watch it here. It’s about Staedtler’s pencil production. Unfortunately the clip is in German only and if you live outside Germany it might not play form that web site and you might need to use some tricks to get it to play, but I’ve added some screenshots to give you a rough idea what the video is about.

Mr Rüdel making pencils as a medieval craftsman

Mr Rüdel making pencils as a medieval craftsman (Image © Pro7)


I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post, taken from episode 191 from the 2016 season of Galileo, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.