Happy Birthday…

Happy Birthday Mars plastic eraser!

Mars plastic

You’ve helped us out of our misery for 50 years.

To celebrate this occasion there’s an anniversary edition

  • of the eraser (Art. no. 526 50BK3A)
  • of the single hole sharpener (Art. no. 510 10 PR1)
  • and of the double hole sharpener (Art. no. 510 20 PR1) …among others.

To the next 50 years!


I’d like to thank Mr Schindler from Staedtler for sending me the free samples that can be seen in the picture.

You can read more about the wedge sharpener in this blog post and more about the the stick version of the Mars plastic in this blog post.

 

Pilot S20, 0.3mm, dark brown

 

s20-bodyHow could I resist… I never had much of a chance, did I?

…not with Gunther touting his readers with his beautiful S20, again and again and again.

I gave in…

s20-aluminium

If you click to enlarge you will notice tiny dents that must have occurred during manufacturing

…and bought the S20 in dark brown and in 0.3mm from WAKU1(Japan Store) for £13.52 (~$20.80; €18.20), including postage. I got it twelve days later. A great price, especially when keeping in mind that it costs more than twice as much in the UK (because it is imported) and you will have problems finding the 0.3mm version. I bought from WAKU1 in the past, but more about that in a future blog post.

The wood of the pen is beautiful and reminds me of the ONLINE All Wood Marone.

s20-f

Pilot is a bit optimistic though, offering an F in their lead grade indicator. Is there an 0.3mm lead in F? When I see F it’s usually for 0.5mm.

Please let me know if you know of a 0.3mm lead in F – I do prefer harder leads, so F would be great, even though I have to say the 0.3mm leads you get with many Faber-Castell pencils are a bit too hard and too light for my taste.

s20-staedtler


Price and exchange rates: February 2015

Is this it?

This is not a Noris and a Tradition.

This is not a Noris and not a Tradition.

I’ve started my search for good coloured pencils, i.e. coloured pencils that are suitable for writing, many years before I started this blog. Eventually, my dissatisfaction with coloured pencils led me to coloured leads for mechanical pencils – though marginally better than coloured pencils coloured leads aren’t great either and the only hard ones I found so far are so poor you can’t enjoy writing with them either.

noriscolour-packaging

…but then Lexikaliker gave me new hope with his article about the Paperworld 2015 and his confirmation that you can use the new Wopex coloured pencil, the Noris colour, for writing. An extruded lead might have very different properties – maybe….

…maybe this is it. Maybe this is the holy grail of colour pencils!

...camouflages right into the desk environment

…camouflages right into the desk environment

Two days ago, on Tuesday, I ordered a pack of six Noris colour from eBay and they have arrived this morning, two days later. It really has been a great stationery week for me. Earlier this week I got a package from California and this morning I got one from Canada as well as the Noris colour mentioned earlier. So many things to try out.

I hope my journey of many years to find a nice coloured pencil, suitable for writing has come to an end. I will report soon.

noriscolour-overview

Viking Skjoldungen 400

The Danes have it good. They can already enjoy the second season of The Legacy / Arvingerne while here in the UK the first season only just finished.

 

Pencil spotting

There were of course pencils to be spotted in the first season. While previous pencils spotted in Danish TV series were either German or unidentified we hit the jackpot this time: a Danish pencil!

Arvingerne: Signe writing a note for her lawyer (Image © DR)

Arvingerne: Signe writing a note for her lawyer (Image © DR)

 

The Viking Skjoldungen 400

As mentioned in a previous blog post I’m quite lucky to have some Danish stationery, most from Henrik and some from Rad and Hungry. This meant that I was able to spot that the Viking pencil in question is the older, pre-2012 version of the Viking Skjoldungen 400. At that time the Skjoldungen was still offered in B, HB, H and 2H – labelled using the Thoreaus’ system, i.e. using numbers 1-4. Now the Skjoldungen 400 is only available in HB – and labelled as HB, not as #21.

The pre-2012 and the current Skjoldungen 400

The pre-2012 and the current Skjoldungen 400

 

Pencil grades

The Skjoldungen 400 is a really nice pencil. My main issue is that the HB/#2 is a too soft for my taste, it is softer than most European HB pencils and  doesn’t keep the point long enough to be convenient for writing lots of text – at least not if you are writing using rather small letters like I do (That’s why I love the Deli 0635 and mechanical pencils with 0.2 or 0.3/0.35 mm leads). The #3 pencil on the other hand is in my opinion already a bit on the hard side for everyday writing. It is however not really harder than other H pencils2. It would be great if Viking’s HB was a bit harder or if there was an F pencil …but since they even stopped making this pencil in B, H and 2H there’s not much chance of an F pencil being made, I guess.

Skjoldungen - old and new

 

Conclusion

Even though the HB pencil is too soft for me when it comes to everyday writing, it might be suitable for many or most other pencil users – many other pencils that are too soft for me, like some Japanese HB or Palomino pencils, seem to be used and preferred by lots of people, so don’t let me put you off if you have a chance to try this pencil for yourself.


I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Viking pencil, taken from the seventh episode of the first season of Arvingerne falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Viking still has some old stock left though (February 2015) which can be bought on their website. []
  2. So the HB is quite a bit softer than other European HB pencils, while the H is in the same league as other H pencils. []

SUCK UK wingnut pencil sharpener

wingnut-front

My latest acquisition: SUCK UK’s Wingnut pencil sharpener, made by Russian designer Sasha Blagov for the Ukranian Shpinat Bureau.

I bought this sharpener in Paperchase (in Selfridges) for £6 (~$9; €8).

It is, as the name suggests, a sharpener shaped like a wingnut.

First use

I did want to use an unsharpened pencil – you can see that the short blade of the wingnut sharpener will produce a much more obtuse angle than your average sharpener, so sharpening an already sharpened pencil with a normal angle down to a more obtuse angle would waste a lot of material. That means an unsharpened pencil was needed. The first pencil I tried to sharpen with it: a Venezuelan Mongol 480.

wingnut-side

Sharpening did start well, but there soon was a point when it was difficult for the wood and lead to reach the blade, because the sharpening hole of the sharpener was too small for the pencil. My resulting annoyance with this sharpener is so big that I’ll to switch to a monologue now.

Is the Venezuelan Mongol wider than your average pencil? Maybe. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work. Hmm, let’s try another one. What other unsharpened pencils are on my desk – oh yes, there’s a Tombow Mono 100 in H. Let’s sharpen that one.

..

What? same problem again? Ok. I think I once read somewhere that the Tombow is wider than your average pencil, or did I mix that up? Anyway, let’s try another unsharpened pencil -  here, a Chung Hwa 101 in 2B.

What the… The same thing happened again? ..and I spent £6 on this sharpener‽1

 wingnut-bottom

Design flaw

You’d think sharpening should be easy with this sharpener, but unfortunately there seems to be a design flaw which means that it is very difficult if not impossible to sharpen many pencils.

One problem is that the ‘cone’ you insert the pencil into starts to narrow immediately. Other prism sharpeners don’t narrow immediately, but have an area that helps to guide the pencil. This helps to keep the pencil straight, so you can always achieve a point with the same angle. Because there is no guidance for the pencil in the wingnut sharpener it is difficult to hold the pencil at the right angle. For some pencils I got an angle as acute as 24°, for other the angle was up to 37°. This means that you easily end up with an inconsistent angle (wasting material) or with a broken point.

mongol-sharpened

Another problem is that even though the opening of the sharpener is ~8mm, which should be sufficient as the diameter of most pencils’ diameter isn’t more than that, the blade doesn’t start until a bit later, by which point the prism has already narrowed and is too narrow for most pencils.

Is the wingnut sharpener for coloured pencils?

I’m usually using graphite pencils, so I thought this sharpener might be made for coloured pencils, but a look at the ISZ’s sharpener guide shows that the diameter of the sharpening hole should be even bigger if was a sharpener for coloured pencils.

The pencil will rest on the shoulders created by the sharpener, which makes it impossible to sharpen any further.

The pencil will rest on the shoulders created by the sharpener, which makes it impossible to sharpen any further.

Conclusion

The wingnut sharpener leaves me very disappointed. It is obviously a novelty sharpener, but that shouldn’t mean that it’s unsuitable for most pencils. If it was just a bit bigger it would actually work. I wonder whether this sharpener was designed like this on purpose2 or whether things went wrong when the plans were turned into the finished products.

I hope I can return the wingnut sharpener and get my money back, next time I visit Paperchase in Manchester.


wingnut-backPrice: January 2015

Exchange rates: February 2015

  1. That certainly calls for an interrobang! []
  2. Maybe the prototype did work with Russian pencils, they might be slimmer, who knows – but did SUCK UK not notice? []

Faber-Castell dust-free eraser 18 71 70

Dust free - my favourite kind of eraser

Dust free – my favourite kind of eraser

Previously I have mentioned that I came across a new, nice eraser. Well, this eraser is new to me – and Faber-Castell have confirmed that this eraser, the blue, dust-free eraser ’18 71 70′, is available in Malaysia, but is not officially available in Europe. It seems to be for sale in Canada, though. I paid 4元 (~ 65¢; 55c; 45p) for this eraser.

Faber-Castell's 18 71 70 eraser

Faber-Castell’s 18 71 70 eraser

Performance is similar to the 18 71 20 (which is the bigger version of the 18 71 30). The blue 18 71 70 seemed to be a little bit softer and required a little bit less effort than the white 18 71 20, which is already very soft and effortless to use. This could however be because the white 18 71 20 is a few years old. The dust of the blue 18 71 70 did not roll up as neatly into strands as that of the white 18 71 20.

There is also a black version of the 18 71 70, the 18 71 71. According to Faber-Castell both versions are identical except the colour. According to Faber-Castell the white dust-free erasers 18 71 20 and 18 71 30 are phthalate free. There are no similar claims regarding the blue or black dust-free eraser.

 

Comparison 18 71 20 and 18 71 70

Comparison 18 71 20 and 18 71 70, Fili Perfetto pencil, Deli Report Pad paper

In case you wonder why my 18 71 20 looks so funny on the picture, it took on the colour of my Berit case after being stores in the Berit case for a while. Eraser easily take on the colour of items they touch, or even ‘dissolve’ other items.


Price: December 2014

Exchange rates: January 2015