A Franconian Noris

Franconia Day

This weekend is Franconia Day (Tag der Franken) again, so I thought this blog post should feature some Franconia pencils – in the wild.

Juge Robin's pencil

Juge Roban’s pencil (Image © Son et Lumière)


According to Wikipedia “only two European regions continue to be associated with the Franks”1:

  • Franconia – to link this blog post to Franconia: it’s where the pencils in the following pictures were probably made (unless they were old stock)
  • and Île-de-France where the pencils in the following pictures were being filmed.
Juge Roban's pencil

Juge Roban’s pencil (Image © Son et Lumière)

These screenshots have been taken from Engrenages, where they used to use the BIC Matic last season.

While the magistrate is using Staedtler’s Noris the police is using the Tradition:

Staedtler tradition

Staedtler tradition (view in full resolution to see the pencil) (Image © Son et Lumière)

The Game and Clifton

Meanwhile, on the other side of the channel. Actually, not meanwhile, but kind of 40 years earlier: MI5’s Alan Montag is using a Staedtler Noris. There are a lot of pencils in the series, but usually they are unidentifiable yellow/orange pencils. For a few minutes I thought Joe Lambe’s accent is Irish until I realised it’s one of the different types of Scouse2.

Alan Montag listening in with a Noris

Alan Montag listening in with a Noris (Image © BBC Cymru)

The previous screenshot is from the great TV series “The Game” – from 2014, but set in the 1970s. In contrast here’s an MI5 pencil from the real 1970s – from the story Atout…coeur! / Hartkloppingen! from Franco-Belgian comic series Clifton. Burton and Taylor seems to be a reference to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the design of the pencil seems to be based on the Staedtler Lumograph.

Clifton's pencil

Clifton’s pencil (Image © Turk & De Groot)

Make me Welsh

After the BBC’s Make me a German this time: Make me Welsh. Funnily enough the TV series The Game I just mentioned was produced by BBC Cymru Wales, too. Sean told me about this programme and sent me a screenshot showing pupils using Staedtler’s Noris (very common in British schools).

Pensiliau Cymraeg

Pensiliau Cymraeg (Image © BBC Cymru)



If that’t not enough Franconian pencils yet – there are plenty more in the latest season of Episodes. Episodes does again feature an extremely high density of Noris pencils per episode. I’ll skip the screenshot though as it would be virtually indistinguishable from the last one I posted.


Noris in the wild

To celebrate what is probably my favourite pencil, the Noris, I have put together a page from the different Noris in the wild blog posts, which can be found here.

Franken Bleistift

I would like thank Sean for the Make me Welsh screenshot.

I believe that the use of the screen shots, taken from Engrenages, The Game, Clifton and Make me Welsh falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. I’m not sure whether this claim is true, but nevertheless I’ll just repeat it here []
  2. I should have recognised it earlier …a few years ago I had a student with a very similar accent []
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Pierre Henry file boxes

I feel like this is a ‘Soennecken’ blog post. As mentioned in a previous blog post he invented the ring binder and the hole punch, two items mentioned in this blog post. Even though Soennecken is not very famous outside Germany they are still around and you can still buy their pencil and mechanical pencils.



Ring binders

Ok, on to the real blog post. I used to store all my bills, invoices and other important documents in folders / ring binders. This somehow, should I say because of my laziness, ended up in me collecting letters for weeks or months and then filing them away in one big session that involved lots of hole punching and sorting.

After the last ‘filing away session’ I was wondering why I go through all that effort if I hardly ever look up what I have filed away. If I change my energy supplier or switch to another credit card I will shred all the carefully sorted pages anyway, probably without ever having looked up a single document.

Wouldn’t a system be better where I can just drop’ documents, even if looking things up might take a bit longer?

Made in France

Made in France

Filing boxes

That reminded me of a filing box I had seen in Aldi several weeks earlier, but I didn’t need one at the time. I remembered that they were cheap, made from metal and made in France. A quick look on the Internet  made me find them online: These were filing boxes by Pierre Henry, a brand I wasn’t familiar with. Looking a bit more I found that these were just on offer at Staples. One A4 file box was only £12.49 (~$19.65; €17.60) (and still is).



Fast storage, slow retrieval

No hole punching involved. You just drop your documents in the right bit of your suspension files. It’s quicker, but if you want access to a specific document it takes a bit longer to get it out. It’s a bit like the good old magnetic core memory: storing information is quick, but retrieving information takes a bit longer – unlike my previous solution, ring binders, which are more like MiniDiscs: storing information is complicated, but reading it is easy …or to use a more stationery related analogy: it’s like cursive versus block letter: cursive is faster to write, but reading it takes longer.

The label roll from the previous blog post

The label roll from the previous blog post

Suspension files

For my purpose the file boxes came with a few, but not with enough suspension files. Staples’ suspension files were quite expensive, so I bought some from eBay instead. Unfortunately half of my order was the wrong size: foolscap instead of A4, but luckily the seller sent the right size after I contacted them. If you don’t live in a country where foolscap is being used you might have come across it in the Sherlock Holmes books. I think this is where I first came across it.


As mentioned earlier I bought the metal file boxes from Staples. They promised next day delivery to my local Staples, but somehow it was Monday before they arrived, not Saturday as promised.

Some good offers in Staples

Some good offers in Staples

Stationary in a stationery store

Stationary in a stationery store


So far I’m very happy with my new way of storing documents. I got a 30% off voucher from Staples after my first order. The voucher expires tomorrow. I wonder whether I should get some more metal file boxes.


Price and exchange rates: June 2015

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Label Roll 3

In the last few days I had more visitors than usual, so I had a look where they came from. Turns out that both the Pen Addict Podcast and Erasable linked to my blog, with more than 100 visitors coming form the Pen Addict Podcast and more than ten visitors coming from the Erasable Podcast. Thank you.


Anyway, this blog post was supposed to be about something else: about the Label Roll I bought in my local Tesco homeplus for £4 (~$6.30; €5.60). Not cheap, 3M products never seem to be, at least not here in the UK, but they always seem to be useful and last a long time. Post-its don’t seem suitable to label things, the glued area on the back is just too small and won’t last long enough – and their labels, which have the whole back glued, are even more expensive.


One of the main advantages for me is that the labels are much bigger than what you get from a embosser / demo label maker, so it is easier to read on big items. So, despite the expensive price tag quite a nice new item of stationery.

Price and exchange rates: June 2015

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I lost my Perfect Pencil 6

It looks as if I lost my Perfect Pencil. My trusted companion since February 2009. With me nearly every single day since I bought it. I guess there is a small chance I will find it again, but that seems unlikely at this stage.

The Castell 9000 version is, in my opinion, by far the best version. I don’t like the look of any of the other Faber-Castell versions and the Graf von Faber-Castell versions are on the one hand a bit too ‘show off’ and they are also very heavy …which makes them feel unbalanced – plus I know from experience that if both of them fall from a meter or so on tarmac the Castell 9000 version will usually survive unharmed while the Graf von version will get a corner chipped off, because its weight made the fall so much worse.



The picture is from an old blog post about the Pencil Cedar – when I still had my Perfect Pencil.


The big question: should I buy a new one, the green one again? They got more expensive in the UK. I bought mine from Cult Pens where they now sell for 12% more (when taking VAT out of the equation). On the other hand the refills got nearly 50% cheaper!1 Even though a 12% price rise seems reasonable they are only half of the UK price when bought at Müller, a German drug store chain.

In the past I was tempted to get the black version. The black version looks as if it would look good with a Noris as a refill, but the only place where I have seen the black version for sale is in Japan, so it does get quite expensive – and currently I shouldn’t really spent money on expensive2 stationery.

I’m not sure yet whether I pay the more expensive UK price, wait for a one from Germany or pay the premium to get the black Japanese version.

  1. I used to use the long eraser-tipped 9000 in B to save on refills. Letter colour is different (gold vs silver) and the layout is different, but otherwise they seem identical except length. []
  2. >£10 []
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