A wooden box for sharpeners

Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time in the last few weeks to write blog posts – but just to prove that this blog is still being looked after here’s a very quick post.

Sharpener box

Sean was kind enough to let me know about this box, which was being sold on an auction site. It’s a wooden box that was used to sell Faber-Castell sharpeners.

The closing mechanism.

The closing mechanism.

My guess would be that it’s from the 1950s or 1960s, but I might be wrong there. The window in the lid is plastic/ thick foil, not glass. There’s a sticker at the bottom, listing the prices for the different sharpeners. Not all of these sharpeners have disappeared by now.

The price list.

The price list.


I’d like to thank Sean for telling me about this box.

nu: Tough Paper

nu:'s tough paperI’m not a big fan of spiral bound notebooks or notepads. Spiral binding will usually put me off buying a notepad, but in the case of the spiral bound, Chinese made nu: tough paper I couldn’t resist.

I saw this notebook in the supermarket run by my employer’s /my university’s students’ union and the words “paper made from stone” managed to grab my interest at first sight.

 

Material

The paper is made from 80% ground limestone / chalk and 20% HDPE (many plastic bottles are made from HDPE) and promises to be water-proof, wipeable, tough, durable and, to my surprise, recyclable and biodegradable1

 

nu: Tough Paper

In case you wonder, the Kaweco was filled with non erasable ink from Diamine.

 

How does the paper behave?

..with pencils

Compared to normal paper the pencil line left on this ‘stone paper’ feels much darker . The line also feels wider. Applying less pressure when writing will also produce a fairly dark line, more so than writing with less pressure on normal paper. I suspect this behaviour is caused by a rougher paper surface. You can certainly feel more friction when moving a finger across the ‘stone paper’, compared to normal paper.

How does the ‘stone paper’ compare to similar products? The lines left on this paper are also darker than those a pencil would leave on paper from a Rite in the Rain notepad. Altogether, this paper produces an unusual, but pleasant pencil writing experience.

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

..with fountain pens

Let’s stick to the similar Rite in the Rain notepad for a moment. It’s pretty useless when you want to use it with a fountain pen. The ink just stays on the surface of the paper, it might even form tiny droplets …until it eventually dries. Because the ink didn’t really penetrate the top layer of the paper the colour of the writing is usually quite light. The behaviour of fountain pens and ink on nu:’s tough paper is quite different. The written text even looks very similar to text written on a normal piece of paper, with two differences:

  • there is an absence of visible texture on the ‘stone paper’, in my opinion this does influence the look of ink more than the look of graphite
  • the moment your fountain pen is a wet writer, even if only to a very small degree, the ink will take a really long time to dry.

On the above image you can see text written by a Kaweco Sport with an EF nib. The cartridge was empty and the pen was therefore an extremely  dry writer. Drying took a few seconds. The lines made by the Pentel Tradio on the other hand, not a wet writer when I compare it to some of my other fountain pens, took just under 10 minutes to dry. On normal paper the Tradio‘s lines only take a few seconds to dry.

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

 

How strong it the paper?

The paper seems to cope better with ‘bad conditions’, like wetness and physical impact. When trying the tear it nu:’s tough paper does behave rather unusual. Unlike the Rite in the Rain paper, which provides a similar ripping experience to traditional paper, ripping the tough paper feels a bit like ripping thin sheets of plastic. This is probably cause by the HDPE content. Normal paper usually rips in such a way that a sheet of paper lying horizontally will not be separated by a clear vertical line. Where the traditional paper is separated one half of the torn paper might contain more of the top layer of the paper, while the other half of the paper might contain more of the bottom layer of the torn paper. The tough paper however seems to stretch a bit where you tear, then separate clearly, while the stretched part curls slightly. It feels rather plasticy.

nu: Tough Paper

Left: Rite in the Rain, Right: nu: Tough Paper

 

Conclusion

Altogether a nice notepad. It’s an interesting novelty and I’m sure I’ll enjoy using it, but I’m not sure I’ll buy more once the novelty effect has worn off.

I paid £2.50 for this notepad. It’s spiral bound, has a tough cover and back, and has 160 sheets of paper.


In 2013 Wired published an interesting article about ‘stone paper’.

I bought the Pentel Tradio in 2013 at Müller Markt in Volkach. As far as I remember it was extremely cheap (<€10).

  1. I don’t know much about plastic, so I would very much appreciate if someone could explain biodegradable in the context of HDPE. A quick look on the Internet seems to suggest that you can make HDPE biodegradable by changing the recipe slightly. On a different note: biodegradable plastic reminds me of Dave’s biodegradable pencil test. []

Happy Belgian National Day!

Belgium. Home of our president, home of The Pencil Case Blog, home of the chips (and moules-frites), home of SG-1′s favourite toy, home of many fantastic comic artists and comic strips1, home of some crazy music and home to some of the best2 notebooks in the world…

…and today is the Belgian National Day!

In a perfect world I’d now show you a picture of a Belgian pencil sharpened with a Belgian blade. Unfortunately I have to make do with no Belgian pencil, but at least some fantastic Belgian paper. For the photo I could even choose between different brands, but I picked Atoma paper. Regarding the blade, I chose a Dutch one, from Apeldoorn – the Netherlands is a neighbour of Belgium. About the pencil, I chose a German one, again it’s a neighbour of Belgium, plus the National Day “commemorates the day on which Leopold I took the constitutional oath as the first King of Belgium, on July 21st 1831″3. Leopold I of Belgium was born in Coburg, which is in Franconia – and this pencil was made in Franconia, too. Happy Belgian National Day

 

 

  1. from Macherot, Turk, Morris, Hergé, Peyo, … []
  2. imho []
  3. see http://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/country/belgium_in_nutshell/symbols/national_holiday/ []

Happy Independence Day!

As a pencileer, molyvophile and molyvologue1 I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than to sharpen an American pencil with an American blade.

…but which pencil to choose? In the end I narrowed it down to the Mongol and the Ticonderoga. As these pencils where also made in other countries I obviously only put the American made versions on the short list.

Independence Day Mongols

In the end I did go with the Ticonderoga, just because I thought Faber-Castell takes some of the emphasis on the USA away. So, the chosen pencil is the Dixon’s American Ticonderoga. I did have a few of them in stock, but haven’t actually used them yet. My Ticonderoga experience so far was limited to the ‘Korean’ Ticonderogas, the awful Ticonderoga Renew and the Microban Ticonderogas.

Independence Day Ticonderoga

The knife was easy to choose, my Leatherman Style CS …just because it is the only knife I own that is, as far as I know, made in the United States of America.

Independence Day Leatherman

OK, let’s start sharpening. Because I only have a few of these American made Ticonderogas I want a less acute angle than usual – I just don’t want to waste too much of the nice pencil.

Independence Day Sharpening

I don’t want to go for a proper obtuse angle either, as that would probably be a very strange writing experience.

Independence Day Point

Here way are. By the way, the American blade was sharpened with something American, too: The Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, which could also be used to sharpen blades of pencil sharpeners.

Independence Day Point Close

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Idependence DayAs usual, please click on the pictures to see them in a higher resolution.

  1. See explanation in this blog post. []

Noris of the Woods

More Noris spotting!

I was lucky enough to spot several Staedtler Noris pencils in the BBC’s national and regional news in the last couple of days. One of the regional news clips was even filmed just around the corner.

…but Sean has sent me an even more exciting Noris spotting:
The 6-part series from the BBC called The Story of England by Michael Woods features Staedtler pencils in several shots. Here’s a photo from this series, featuring a Welsh-made Noris.

Image © Maya Vision / BBC

Image © Maya Vision / BBC


I believe that the use of the the screen shot of the Noris pencil, taken from Michael Wood’s Story of England falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.