E wie edelweiss

Today: a Swiss pencil, the Caran d’Ache edelweiss.

Caran d’Ache’s cheaper pens

The edelweiss ((Edelweiss is not only the English, but also the Swiss spelling of Edelweiß because the ß is not used in Switzerland.)) is, as far as I know, Caran d’Ache’s cheapest full-length pen1. Outside Switzerland the company is mainly known for their luxury writing instruments, but they also sell what I would call “office supply priced” stationery. I paid € 0.60 (~ $0.78; £0.48) each for the edelweiss pencils. Their other “office supply priced” stationery includes ballpoint pens which start at just under CHF 2 (~ $2.15; €1.65; £1.30).

 

Then and now

Caran d’Ache’s history goes back to 1915 when a pencil company was established that, nine years later, was bought by Arnold Schweitzer and became Caran d’Ache. The company name is linked to the Russian word for pencil – but I won’t go into more details: since you are reading pencil blogs you have probably heard this story before.

I tried to find out more about the history of the edelweiss pencil, but was unsuccessful as Caran d’Ache did not reply to my request for information. I do hope that it will be possible to find out more about the edelweiss and their other products in the future, as the company’s new boss Carole Hübscher is said to want to “communicate actively”, unlike her father who run the company before her and who only gave one interview in 30 years.

I hope Caran d’Ache will continue to make cheap stationery, but am not too optimistic about this in the long-term as their cheap products are, with a few exceptions, only available in Switzerland and even there it’s easy to find stationery shops that don’t stock Caran d’Ache pencils but those from other manufacturers. The future of Caran d’Ache and its 300 employees seems to be with high end writing instruments and boutiques like the one opened recently in Geneva.

 

The pencils

The edelweiss pencils are nice writers, but definitely less smooth than Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils of the same grade (F, HB, 3B). Ghosting/graphite transfer between pages is good, comparable to other European pencils, with the edelweiss HB maybe performing a little bit better than Mars Lumograph of the same grade, but the F and 3B edelweiss performing a bit worse than the Mars Lumographs of the same grade. Personally, I’m partial to F pencils as they tend to keep their point for a long time without their marks being too light on paper, so I like to use them for writing in situations when sharpening a pencil too often would be odd, or when I write in a book or diary2.

The paintwork and print are well done with only minor issues of chipped off paint near the unfinished cap. The current version has a black barcode printed on the pencil. The wood seems to be cedar and the pencils are easy to sharpen.

I couldn't resist and had to put something stereotypical Swiss in the photo

 

Conclusion

The edelweiss provides very good value for money – if you can get your hands on this pencil that is rather rare outside Switzerland.

Sharpened with a Deli 0635. Pencils not rotated while writing...


I bought these pencils in November 2011 from Stilus BSA for € 0.60 each. The price has not changed since then (September 2012).

Price: November 2011/September 2012

Exchange rate: September 2012

 

You can find a review of the edelweiss at pencil talk and a blog post at Lung sketching Scrolls.

Brand name pencils has a photo of the old version of the edelweiss.

  1. The 1/2 length pencil 541.272 must be their cheapest pen. []
  2. When it comes to ghosting/graphite transfer the Wopex is even better than a grade F pencil. []

Banditapple 2G carnets

In a previous blog post from 2010 I had a look at Banditapple’s notebooks (carnets). What happened since then? Banditapple released a few limited edition carnets. Another interesting development is that the manufacturing process of the next generation of Banditapple carnets uses less chlorine while VOCs were reduced, too … and the new version of these notebooks is out. The current generation (2G) of notebooks is available in three colours: Gingerbread, Manuka Honey and Finland Pine.

Since I’ve been very happy with the 1G carnets and use them regularly at work I asked Arnie, the man behind Banditapple, whether I can order a few of the 2G carnets directly from him as he does not have an online shop yet. To cut a long story short, in the end he send me four of the new notebooks and I only had to pay the postage (€5, ~$6.65; £4.20). The package he sent to me last year only took a few days to arrive, but unfortunately it wasn’t treated very well by one of the postal services involved. Luckily, after storing the maltreated 2G carnets under some heavy books, they were (nearly) back in shape. I specifically asked for the tablet sized notebooks as I find this to be the most suitable size for daily use, at least for my purposes.

The peewee sized notebooks (9×14 cm) are ₩2500 each (~£1.40; $2.20; €1.70).

The tabled sized notebooks (13×12 cm) are ₩4000 each (~£2.30; $3.60; €2.70).

CdA edelweiss, Stabile LeftRight, Staedtler Wopex, M&G AMP33701 and Pelikan Souverän 605 on a 2G carnet

 

The new notebooks are still sewn, not stapled and the cover is still made from coloured paper, something I like very much as this enables me to label the notebooks using a white pencil1. The paper quality of the 2G carnets is possibly even better than the quality of the previous generation. It copes very well with ink and I cannot think of a paper that is better in terms of erasing graphite without leaving traces.

1G Hanoi Red (used) and the new 2G colours

Conclusion

A great, but difficult to get notebook.

 


Prices and exchange rates: February 2012.

Paperandco, an online shop from Paris still has a few of the 1G carnets in Hanoi Red and Saigon Black in stock.

The official Banditapple website and blog can be found here.

This previous Bleistift blog post has more information about the 1G carnets.

You can find a review of the 2G carnets at Okami Whatever.

I would like to thank Arnie Kim for the Banditapple 2G carnets.

  1. Like the Faber-Castell Goldfaber Heft&Tafel 1133 or the Eberhard Faber 1410 in white. []