A visit to Fred Aldous 5

Earlier this month I went to Fred Aldous, an art/craft/stationery store in Manchester that has bee around for more than 100 years.

Fred Aldous entrance

 

Visiting this store is a great step up from visiting the usual chain stationery shops that all tend to offer the same items. Instead of finding what you can find everywhere you’ll find items that are usually only available in online shops or from abroad.

Ground floor

Ground floor

On the ground floor you will find imported, novelty and quirky stationery. This includes Field Notes, the first time I’ve seen them in a brick and mortar shop.

Field Notes at Fred Aldous

Field Notes

Less of a rarity: Rhodia …but I have never seen so much choice in one shop.

Rhodia at Fred Aldous
I was also able to stock up on Leuchtturm loops and saw pencils ‘live’ that I had to mail order in the past, like the Perfetto pencils mentioned previously.

Basement

Basement

ParkingThe basement did remind me of a Hobby Craft store (an arts and craft chain in the UK). Lots of pencils, inks, etc, but of the less exotic kind. It’s still exciting to see so much choice in one place.

 

Parking isn’t easy in the centre of Manchester, but one of the side streets just next to Fred Aldous didn’t have double yellow lines all the way through, so I was able to park free of charge in a convenient location.

I also managed to buy a few exciting items.

Items bought from Fred Aldous


You can find review of the Field Notes Shelterwood at The Writing Arsenal and at The Gentleman Stationer. The Field Notes I bought is the Cherry Graph, which is nearly identical.

Explosive Ltd, the company behind the Blacking Limited Edition video and running the Wood & Graphite blog, has a video review of the Cedar Pointe, bought in the same store.

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Ty/iwako erasers (again)

Beanie Puzzle EraserI like a bargain. That means I do sometimes buy things if they are cheap, even if I don’t need them.

In this case I’m talking about erasers. You never know when a good eraser might come in handy1.

This weekend I bought more Ty/iwako’s puzzle erasers.

Usually these sell for £1 (~$1.55; €1.39) each, but my local Pound World is selling four for £1.

There were lots of different packs, each with four erasers each, but all the packs had a different mix.

Please click to enlarge.


Price and exchange rates: May 2015

  1. A variation of a sentence from the computer game Leisure Suit Larry []
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Why did the sliding sleeve disappear? 5

Getting to know the sliding sleeve pencils again

Thanks to Lexikaliker whetting my my appetite and with some help from Shangching I got my hands on a Pentel Orenz. I have been using it for a few weeks now and like it very much. A blog post will follow, hopefully, once my time permits.

One of the nice features of the Orenz is the sliding sleeve. You don’t have to keep manually forwarding the lead to be able to keep writing. Instead the sleeve will slide back while you write until there’s no sleeve left. Only then do you have to forward the lead – and the sleeve will slide out again.

You start writing like this...

You start writing like this…

Retractable vs sliding sleeve

Just to clarify, when I write about a sliding sleeve I mean a one that slowly slides back while you write. The other type, a sleeve that is either completely out (for writing) or completely in (for transport) is the type I call a retractable sleeve. I hope these labels are correct, I’m not sure, but this helps to avoid confusing both types. Please let me know if the names I use for the sleeves are wrong.

In the past

The sliding sleeve is nothing new. The Staedtler Microfix1 I used in school could do that. At that time Staedtler sold mechanical pencils with three different types of sleeves: fixed (F models), half slide (HS models) and full slide (S / SL models), but as far as I know the sliding sleeves have disappeared in the late 1980s.

...after a while it looks like that

…after a while it looks like that

Why are they gone?

Unfortunately these types of mechanical pencils are quite rare. I can see the advantage of a fixed sleeve for an engineer who needs his or her pencil to create precise drawings, but these days that kind of work is done on a computer – so why did the sliding sleeve not come back? In my opinion it provides a much better writing experience than a fixed sleeve mechanical pencil.

You can still get mechanical pencils with sliding sleeves. One example is Caran d’Ache’s 844 pencil, mentioned previously, but the 844’s sleeve is quite wide meaning it will prevent full contact of the lead with the paper – the sleeve is in the way when you are writing.

Orenz, Microfix and 844

Orenz, Microfix and 844

You can still buy new old stock (NOS) of the Microfix, but it’s not cheap (If I were to win the lottery this weekend I’d buy the whole set).

Do you know of any nice sliding sleeve mechanical pencils still available?

  1. Available from 1977 until 1988. []
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Quiet 7

Sorry for the recent inactivity on my blog. I had a few days off over Easter and work as well as the baby (or should I say the toddler) have kept me very busy, too. There are a few half finished blog posts I hope to complete soon.

Work wise a new task / project will start soon. It will probably go on indefinitely, so I am just thinking which of my unused Atoma notebooks I should start using for that task.

I want to go with Atoma as I have often regretted using a Red’n’Black notebook for another project, which meant I couldn’t add sheets afterwards, or add printouts in a meaningful way.

Atoma notebooks

The A5 like size has been very useful in the past, but this time there might be benefits to be gained from being able to squeeze more information on a page – to give a better overview of things – but A4 seems a bit big and imposing for meetings etc. There are also the posh Atoma notebooks (including the Alain Berteau version) I got for my birthday in 2013, but I guess at work they would be a bit out of place…

Any advice?

 

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