Pentel Ain Clic

After seeing my link on facebook about the effects of erasers on paper1 you must have guessed that the next post is about erasers, so today: a belated blog post about the Pental Ain Clic, an eraser in a pen shaped holder2. There are strong links to the recent Temagraph blog post: More or less the same eraser is also available under the Temagraph brand.

Temagraph eraser (Image © Fila)

Temagraph eraser (Image © Fila)

I don’t own the Temagraph version though, so my blog post is based on the Pentel Ain Clic version, which was sent to me by Fudepens.com, where it currently retails for €4 (~$5.50; £3.30). If you like their products: they do ship internationally and orders over €30 get free international shipping.

Pen Erasers Overview

Different erasers in pen shaped holders.

Shape

The main difference, compared to other erases that come in pen shaped holders, is that the eraser core is triangular. This means that you usually end up having a ‘corner’ of the eraser left when you need to erase small, tricky traces of graphite – a bit like Kokuyo erasers, just not that extreme. The problem with the round eraser sticks is not so much that the area you end up erasing is too big (the end of the stick ends up, more or less, in the shape of a half sphere. If you think of a ball lying on the ground, the contact area with the ground is very small), the problem is more that the point where you erase is difficult to control, because it is difficult to see where the eraser will make contact with the paper. This is where the triangular shape comes in handy, but the pointy corners you see in the picture will of course round off, too.

Pentel Ain Clic

New and unused, let’s try it out next….

Materials

The body of the Ain Clic eraser is made in Mexico, while the eraser itself is produced in Japan and is composed of PVC and DINP. Just a warning, the P in DINP stands for phthalate, which you might have come across in the news. In the EU DINP is banned in toys and childcare articles that children can put into their mouths (see European Directive 2005/84/EC3 ). This eraser doesn’t seem to be marketed at children, but I would keep in mind that it contains phthalates and would keep it away from children (or adults tempted to put it in their mouth). It might also be advisable to put the eraser crumbs in the waste bin ,instead of just blowing them off the paper, so they don’t end up on the desk or floor.

The Staedtler Mars plastic eraser stick 528 50, used in the comparison, did contain phthalates in the past (as shown in the paper about the effects of erasers on paper), but the current product specification sheet shows that the Mars plastic, which is also PVC based, is now phthalate free. I hope Pentel will change the Ain Clic in the future and will switch to a more ‘human friendly’ plasticiser.

Pentel Ain Clic

Performance

The Ain Clic doesn’t only look good, performance-wise it’s also very good.

When just erasing with a single stroke (maybe more suitable for artists) performance is not too good, but when repeatedly moving the eraser across the graphite to be erased (which, I would think, is the standard way of doing it) performance is great. With repeated movement graphite doesn’t stick to much too the eraser and the eraser dust will roll up into strands – I like erasers where the dust rolls up like that.

Comparison

Comparison on Banditapple 3G paper. The shaded areas were erased using eight strokes (Mars left, Pentel right)

Conclusion

Overall a great and good looking eraser, but the use of DINP is a black mark against it and the eraser shouldn’t be given to children.

I use pencils and erasers for writing, where I don’t need to eraser very fine details, but I can imagine this being an eraser very suitable for artists.


I would like to thank Fudepens.com for the Pentel Ain Clic, which I got sent for free. I don’t think the fact that I didn’t pay for the eraser influenced my opinion of this eraser in any way.

 

I would like to thank Pentel USA and Staedtler for the additional information they have provided about their erasers.

 

The photo of the Temagraph eraser is © Fila. I believe that the use of the photo shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

I bought the Staedtler Mars plastic eraser stick at Granthams, a local art supply shop. I paid between £1 and £2 for it, but I can’t remember how much exactly.

 

Price (for the Pentel) and exchange rates: April 2014.

  1. Sorry, I didn’t find an English, only  a Dutch and a German version of the paper. []
  2. Previously reviewed at East…West…Everywhere. []
  3. http://ec.europa.eu/health/opinions/en/phthalates-school-supplies/glossary/def/dinp-di-isononyl-phthalate.htm []

The Lyra Temagraph and the Eisen 480

I guess I should stick to pencils, the clam clips blog post really wasn’t popular, so here’s a new blog posts about a pencil and a sharpener/eraser combo. The pencil side of today’s post is, to some extent, linked to an earlier blog post about the Amos Dixon Ticonderoga and to pencil talk’s blog post about Fila’s global pencils. I’ll be writing about Lyra’s Temagraph. The sharpener side of the post is linked to an earlier post about the Eisen 402.

A Temagraph next to a Ticonderoga

A Temagraph next to a Ticonderoga

 

The Lyra Temagraph

Temagraph

Assumed origin: from Greek thema + -graph: An instrument for writing about a topic, theme or proposition

The Temagraph has been available for some time now, but in the past it was only available under the Fila brand name. You can see pictures of the old Fila Temagraph at Lápis and Pencils and at pencil talk. After Fila (Italy) bought Dixon (USA) and Lyra (Germany) they started ‘adjusting’ their products, including the Temagraph. The Temagraph suddenly started to look pretty much like the Dixon Ticonderoga (metallic green font on a yellow pencil) and is now marketed1 as a Lyra pencil, rather than as a Fila pencil.

Look

Two sides of the pencil are a labelled. The Temagraph side is labelled in metallic green. Opposite is the barcode side, labelled in black. The Temagraph has a end cap similar to the Noris, indicating lead hardness, but with a straight line around the corners.

Material

The FSC code on the packaging doesn’t leave any doubt about the Temagraph being linked to the Ticonderoga. The certificate is linked to the Beijing Fila Dixon Stationery Co., Ltd2 and shows that the pencil is made using Tilia spp., which includes many species of linden trees (also called lime trees or basswood).

The barcode side of the Temagraph and the Eisen 480

The barcode side of the Temagraph and the Eisen 480

Availability

Even though it is officially a Lyra pencil (and Lyra is/was a German brand) I have never seen this pencil in any shop in Germany. It dos however seem to be more popular in Fila’s home country Italy. When looking for the Temagraph on Amazon UK I could only find Italian sellers offering this pencil. Mine are from a local shop in Germany. They didn’t stock any, but a few years ago I asked them to order a few for me.

Performance

The Temagraph feels fairly smooth and puts down a very dark line. As you might have guessed from the fact that it’s a dark line – the lead rather soft, which means that point retention is not as good as it is with a normal pencil. In my case that means that I’m happy to use the Temagraph for writing the occaional sentence (think calendar entries), but I wouldn’t want to use it write a lot as it would need sharpening too often.

The Eisen 480 taken apart

The Eisen 480 taken apart

The Eisen 480

I sharpened the Temagraph with Eisen’s model 480. The Eisen 480 sharpens with an angle of approx. 21°. It’s a container sharpener that comes with an eraser, to some extent similar to the Faber-Castell Sharpener-eraser pen 18 44 01. The container for the shavings can be rotated and will lock in one of two positions: sharpener accessible and sharpener closed, to prevent shavings from falling out.

What an excellent point

What an excellent point

The eraser comes with a lid and fits exactly under the lid. Eraser performance is good. It’s a TPR (thermoplastic rubber) eraser that produces strands that roll together, to some extent similar to a dust-free eraser, but not as extreme, but eraser performance overall is no match for the excellent performance of the sharpener, which produces a nice, continuous strand of shavings with a thickness of about 0.2 mm. The blade is made in Baiersdorf, the container is made in Taicang, where assembly takes place, and the eraser is bought in.

 


You can find out more about the Temagraph at Lexikaliker.

The grey background in the photos (except the last photo) is from Atoma’s Alain Bertreau notebook. I placed the items in the A4 version of this notebook.

I bought the Temagraph in Germany, but can’t remember how much I paid for them.

I have received the Eisen 480 as a free sample from Eisen. Mr. Leistner provided further information. I don’t believe that, when I received the sample, Eisen was aware that I have a blog. I also don’t believe that not having paid for this sharpener has influenced my opinion of the sharpener in any way.

  1. It’s advertising includes promises such as “The best designers choose the excellent lines of Temagraph pencils.” and “The best illustrators choose the clean line left by Temagraph pencils! Superior quality, gold series, fine graphite for clean-cut lines, Temagraph pencils come with an extra-resistant and easy to sharpen and original green metal band indicating the grade.” Despite this promise the green band isn’t made from metal. I’m also not sure though what the green band is resistant to, why you would want to sharpen it. The green band doesn’t indicate the grade either. I’m not sure whether the best illustrators really choose the Temagraph, so like with a lot of advertising I choose not to believe this until I see proof supporting this statement. []
  2. Timberlines has further information about the Chinese manufacturer of these pencils. []

Royal Sovereign Briton

Royal Sovereign Briton

I have touched on the complicated history of the Royal Sovereign Pencil Co in a previous blog post. Today I want to show another pencil made by Royal Sovereign: the Briton.

Royal Sovereign Briton

To put this pencil into context: it was made in the early 1970s, i.e. after Staedtler’s partnership with the British Royal Sovereign Pencil Company started in 1960 and after the owner or Royal Sovereign, the Charnaud family, offered Staedtler their shares in 1966. I guess there’s a chance these pencils were made on the same machines as the early Staedtler Tradition pencils shown here.

Royal Sovereign Briton

The Briton pencil was available in five different degrees: 2H (yellow), H (green), HB (red), B (light blue) and 2B (dark blue), but towards the end of the Briton line, before it was replaced by the Staedtler Tradition, only the HB and B pencils were still in production.

Royal Sovereign Briton

Just like the earliest Staedtler Tradition pencils, it has golden lettering and was pre-sharpened on the right side. This means that the text is upside down if you hold the pencil (the normal way) in your right hand.

Royal Sovereign Briton

The Briton is easy to sharpen and erase. Sharpening was tested using a Maped Metal sharpener, made in Suzhou1, near Shanghai.  In terms of darkness, the lead produces a line similar to modern Staedtler pencils but feels a bit scratchier. It is definitely a good all-round and everyday pencil.

Royal Sovereign Briton


I would like to thank mrsnuffles for telling me which other Briton degrees were available at the time.

  1. That’s one of the nice things in Chinese supermarkets: the label on the product or shelf will tell you which city a product is made in. []

Pelikan Wanderlust

Wanderlust Box

The Wanderlust box arrived, still sealed

You might have noticed that I’m trying hard not to have too many fountain pen related blog posts here on Bleistift. One of the reasons why the pencil theme and the name of the blog (the German word for pencil) were chosen was because it feels as if there are orders of magnitude more blogs and resources about fountain pens on the web than there are about the humble pencil. This time, however, I can’t resist focussing on inks and fountain pens …because I have received Pelikan’s Wanderlust ink.

Wanderlust ink in Preston

The Wanderlust ink bottle in Preston

For the Wanderlust project an ink bottle1 is travelling around the world I was lucky enough to keep it for a few days while it was on it’s way from from Asia, through Europe, to South America. Before arriving in England it travelled from Malaysia to Singapore toIndonesia to the Philippines to Australia to Israel to the Azores to Spain to Belgium to Luxembourg to the Netherlands.

Wanderlust Route

The Wanderlust route so far

Looking at the twelve letters written by previous participants, I was admiring the different writing styles, as well as the different kinds of paper that were being used. I was surprised to see that many participants share common attributes and could identify with many of them. Other participants were roughly my age and work-wise from many were from a similar background: there were many participants in academia or with an engineering background. Also: half of the participants don’t live in the country they were born in.

The twelve Wanderlust letters so far

The twelve Wanderlust letters so far

When I first heard about the Wanderlust project I thought the ink in this box would be an ink created especially for this project. It turned out that the ink in the box was a standard ink from Pelikan’s Edelstein range. My box did contain their Topaz ink, but earlier participants on my route had a different ink in their box.

The Wanderlust ink bottle

The Wanderlust ink bottle

My Wanderlust letter

My Wanderlust letter

I did plan to use my favourite fountain pen, a white tortoiseshell M4002, but when I read the letters from the previous participants, which included nice postcards from Granada and an olive branch from Israel I thought I should also theme my letter according to my country. I wrote on British paper (Imperial Parchment, White Wove, made in Scotland and recently bought on offer in Tafford Centre’s Pen Shop) and used a Pelikan 100N fountain pen, which as far as I can tell has been produced for the British market in the 1930s or 1940s. It features a G.W. (Günther Wagner, the plant manager who took over Pelikan in the 1870s) stamped nib3.

Granada Drawing

Details on some of the envelopes

Granada Drawing

Click to admire fine details

 

One of the reasons why I love Pelikan fountain pens is their performance. They always start (unlike all my Cross fountain pens), they don’t skip, I never got my hand dirty because of ink in the cap (unlike my Noodlers and TWSBI fountain pens) and even if they even been unused for many months they don’t dry out or have problems starting (unlike my Cross, Noodlers, Hero  fountain pens – some of them don’t even survive a few days of non-use without drying out too much to start easily). The only other fountain pen brand I know that performs well in all these areas is Lamy.

The GW nib used to write my letter

The GW nib used to write my letter

The only shame is that Pelikan doesn’t make flexible nibs any more4. If you want one you need to get an old and flexible nib or get a nib custom ground one. Pelikan started a nib grinding service recently, but unfortunately they don’t do flex nibs.

The Wanderlust box will now make its way to South America. I hope the next participants enjoy it as much as I did.

New sticker: Preston's coat of arms

New sticker: Preston’s coat of arms

New sticker: Lancashire and Loriot

New sticker: Lancashire and Loriot

  1. Actually, there are three ink bottles, travelling at the same time but on different routes. []
  2. Recently fixed free of charge by Pelikan after the piston came out, like all previous issues I had with other pens over the years. Their service is really excellent. []
  3. which is so rare that it wasn’t even featured on Ruettinger-web where you can normally find information about all things Pelikan. I’m quite proud that a photo of my nib is now featured on Ruettinger-web. []
  4. Some of their recent nibs are however slightly flexible, as shown in this blog post from nearly exactly one year ago. []

Stationery weekend

What a stationery weekend.

First… Sean told me that Graf von Faber Castell’s pen of the year was announced1.

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack

The Denmark Booster pack

Then… I got the Pelikan Wanderlust box (pictures to follow). It’s a box with Pelikan ink travelling the world. I was supposed to get mine in December, but the box seems to be travelling to some remote islands and I was told it was held up in customs2.

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack

Danske blyanter

Then… I got the Denmark booster pack I won in Rad and Hungry‘s hunt. Nice!

Rad and Hungry Denmark booster pack

…from the misfits stack

  1. More about the previous years’ pens here. []
  2. It’s too late now to join Wanderlust, but Justanotherpen started a similar project. []

Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000

Here in the UK there are several TV shows about buying holiday homes abroad or emigrating. One of those shows is “Wanted Down Under”. The format is usually the same and involves showing how much more people would earn down under and showing what to expect in terms of costs, facilities etc. I’ve never seen a whole episode, but over the years I’ve seen different bits from several episodes and (suspenseful music) they have never talked about the stationery situation down under!

Time to remedy this. Let’s look at the Castell 9000 down under.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

The Castell 9000‘s main markings. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia
Please enlarge by clicking, so that the differences are more obvious.

For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia1 has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia2. They said that prior to this they bought them from Germany, but if Faber-Castell Indonesia is out of stock Faber-Castell Australia will request replenishment from Faber-Castell Germany.

castell9000-indonesia2

The Castell 9000‘s bar codes. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia

In reality this situation seems to be a bit more complicated than that. You might remember Kevin from New South Wales because of his guest review of the Dahle 133 sharpener. Kevin reports that for the last eight to ten years he usually only came across Indonesian Castell 9000 pencils, the exception being some mixed grade tins, which are from Germany.

Sarab from Western Australia also struggles to find the German Castell 9000, which he prefers, and reports that its not easy finding a stationery shop in Europe that will ship small orders internationally. In his experience the differences in grade of the Indonesian Castell 9000 are very subtle or non-existent. In the past he managed to get Bavarian made Castell 9000 pencils in some branches of Jacksons Drawing Supplies, but now they also only stock Indonesian made Castell 9000 pencils.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

Only the German Castell 9000 (top) has markings on three sides. The Indonesian Castell 9000 (bottom) only has markings on two sides.

There seem to be so many unused numbers after 9000. I can see that Castell 9000 is an established brand, but I wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if the Indonesian pencil had another model number – what about 9001? It’s easy to distinguish the different 9000s anyway. In terms of colour and feel the paint of the Indonesian 9000, which doesn’t seem to be water-based, seems to be more similar to the paint used for the Mitsubishi 9800 and less similar to the one used for the Castell 9000 from Stein. The bar code, lead hardness font and print on only two sides of the hexagonal pencil also give the game away anyway…

 

The 'town' of Castell

The ‘town’ of Castell. The Castell 9000 is (indirectly) named after this town, through the Counts of Castell.
Nearby, on Schwanberg, you can even find pencil cedars. The first seeds to plant these trees in Bavaria were imported by Lothar von Faber (Faber, 1873, p.44)3.


I would like to thank Sarab, who brought this issue to my attention, Faber-Castell Australia for further information, Kevin for further information and for the Indonesian Castell 9000 he sent me in October 2011 and Sean for telling me about the book referenced in the third footnote.

More Castell 9000 related posts can be found at Contrapuntalism, Pencil Talk and Bleistift.

  1. Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. []
  2. Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance. []
  3. Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei []