Visiting Kaweco in Nuremberg

End of last year I had the opportunity to get a tour of Kaweco’s premises in Nuremberg, lead by none other than Sebastian Gutberlet himself. He is the son of Michael Gutberlet – the man who brought Kaweco back in the 1990s.

Sebastian Gutberlet

Kaweco did offer a tour of their premises at the time the Insights X trade fair was on, but back then I didn’t have the time to take this offer up.

The museum contains many pens from Kaweco’s past

 

..as well as more modern items from Kaweco’s recent history

 

The offices and the factory are actually just next to Nuremberg’s convention centre. They will soon house a shop and a museum, too.

Old Kaweco pens in the museum

 

Old machines in the museum

As you might know, Kaweco used to be based in Heidelberg (where Lamy is), but since Michael Gutberlet brought it back to life in the 1990s it is based in Nuremberg (where Staedtler and many other stationery manufacturers are).

..and old materials that were used to make pens

 

Sebastian demonstrating how the old machines worked

The factory visit was actually supposed to take place a few days earlier, but illness meant that our family’s trip to Germany was delayed. Luckily we were able to rebook the ferry. Kaweco was happy to accommodate, but as the tour now took place on 23rd December, with December 24th being kind of the most important Christmas day around here, there were no workers in the factory assembling pens and I couldn’t see (or film) the machines in action.

No workers that day, so I didn’t see the machines being used by professionals
Parts for assembling pens

That was a shame, I would have loved to see how fast workers are assembling Kaweco pens. At least I’ve seen this type of machine in action before ..when Kaweco let visitors assemble their own pens at Insights X.

Sebastian Gutberlet wasn’t the only Sebastian in the room….

In case you wonder: the plastic parts for the pens aren’t made at this location. They are designed by Kaweco but outsourced as you’d need a lot of expenditure for machines etc if you’d want to make all the parts yourself. The parts are however all coming back to Nuremberg to be assembled here. Depending on how big the batch or order is the pens can also be engraved here.

More vintage pens from the museum

 

Except housing the machines these premises also include the warehouse, which was busy because annual stocktaking was just taking place.

Hmm, the shelves must be full of stationery goodies

 

Even more goodies. Can I stay overnight?

Since we were in Nuremberg anyway and it was just before Christmas we used to opportunity to visit Nuremberg’s Christmas market, probably the most famous one in Germany. By the way, Sebastian’s Ewok hat in the following picture from Nuremberg’s Christmas market that day was handmade by Shangching from East…West…Everywhere.

At Nuremberg’s Christmas market

We had a great day visiting Kaweco and Nuremberg. I hope I will have a chance to go back there once the museum and shop are officially open.

Pencil Pot Of The Month – December 2016

ppotm-december1

Description: A pencil pot made from from fabric and leather. Made in Japan by Horishima based United Bees.

Price: Unknown, it was a gift

Material: Leather (handle) and a fabric similar to what you find on backpacks

Further information: I got this pencil pot as a gift from Yumiko from Japan (Thanks). It comes with a cross type divider you often get with pencil pots – when you look from the top a cross divides the pencil pot space into four equal sections. I saw on the label that it is made in Japan, but didn’t want to check the manufacturer’s web site for more info as I thought that would bring me to the price and it didn’t feel right to  look up the price of a gift.

ppotm-december2

Inventors and their Staedtler pens – then and now

1960s

Denys Fisher and a Staedtler lead holder
Denys Fisher and a Staedtler lead holder (Image © BBC)

Unfortunately leadholder.com doesn’t work 100% at the moment. Many of leadholder.com’s images will not display, so I can’t be sure whether this is a real Staedtler lead holder or a copy ..but for now, because of the blue colour, I assume that Denys Fisher, the inventor of the Spirograph, used a Staedtler lead holder in these photos.

Denys Fisher and a Staedtler lead holder
Denys Fisher and a Staedtler lead holder (Image © BBC)

2016

Haiyan Zhang came up with an invention that helps Parkinson’s sufferers to be able to write and draw again – and it all started with her Staedtler pens.

Haiyan Zhang and her Staedtler pens
Haiyan Zhang and her Staedtler pens (Image © BBC)

 


The screenshots have been taken from The Toys That Made Christmas and The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

 

The double adjustable OHTO Conception 0.3

OHTO Conception 0.3

Today: a mechanical pencil I ordered in October. I planned to do a review for a while now and it was supposed to be released today, but the day before yesterday Jeff Abbott released a review of this pencil at the biggest stationery blog of them all, The Pen Addict.

He said all and more I could have said, so change of plans then, I only post a short review of this mechanical pencil, but talk about why I like sliding sleeves, again.

The indicator that shows how much lead will advance
The indicator that shows how much lead will advance

Sliding Sleeves

I don’t know why sliding sleeves are such a niche. In my imagination drafting and technical drawing is done on a computer, so there’s no point in having a rigid sleeve/pipe around the lead so that you can use your mechanical pencil more precisely with a ruler.

OHTO Conception 0.3

In my imagination most use mechanical pencils for writing, at least when we talk about today and when we talk about Earth. Of course there will be exceptions, too.

When writing with a fixed sleeve you have to ‘click’ after you used up the 0.5mm or however much you have advanced the lead.

If you have a sliding sleeve it will retract while you use the lead, so you will have 4mm or more to use up before you need to advance the lead.

If you use soft leads (I don’t) the advantage gets even better than with hard leads because you use the lead p so much faster.

OHTO Conception 0.3

The OHTO Conception

Most of my ideas about this pencil can be seen in this video:

 

In short: You can adjust how far you want the lead to advance and you can adjust whether you want a fixed or a sliding sleeve.

Balanced on a type, in sliding mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity
Balanced on a type, in sliding mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

That’s a lot of value for the $15 I paid on eBay. Unfortunately the pen is not available for this price anymore. As far as I can tell OHTO doesn’t have an official presence in the UK, so I wonder whether all OHTO pens here are grey imports anyway. If they are I certainly didn’t have to feel bad for buying it for a good price from Japan instead of buying it for a higher price from a grey importer in the UK.

With 23g the pen’s weight is pretty average for a pen with a metal body and slightly heavier than your average pen with a plastic body.

Balanced on a type, in fixed mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity
Balanced on a type, in fixed mode, so that you can see the centre of gravity

You might remember my table with the force needed for different sliding sleeves. Well, the OHTO Conception, at least my 0.3mm version, is a bit difficult to place in that table. When I first checked I got a very good value, 5cN or even better, but when I checked another time, after the pencil was in fixed sleeve mode, a force of four time that was needed. It seems that changing from sliding to fixed sleeve mode and back will not always put the sleeve in the same state. Sometimes you then have a ‘better’ sliding sleeve, sometimes a ‘worse’ one.

Conclusion

A great pencil, that could do with a bit more grip. I only wish I had bought another colour.


Price: October 2016

Fake Lamy Safari fountain pens in Europe

I am quite sure that I’ve written about my use and like of Lamy pens in previous blog posts.

My admiration for Lamy started in the Eighties

I’ve started using Lamy Safari fountain pens more than 30 years ago (my first fountain pen was from Pelikan though) and have been very happy with them throughout the years. I really can’t remember what colour my first Lamy Safari had, but I am quite sure it came in a cardboard box like the one seen here (scroll down), the one the first Safari came in. The next ten years the Safari (I had a few over the years) was being used every weekday.

I’ve also spend some time near Heidelberg (the place were the Lamy Safari is made), because I have some relatives who live two miles East of Heidelberg. It’s a great place, even though that doesn’t have anything to do with the design and quality of their pens.

..but what’s that? Dark clouds over Heidelberg and the Lamy factory. The fake Safaris are coming!

real: top, fake: bottom - the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both
real: top, fake: bottom – the text on the nib is a different colour, but the ink window matches up for both

 

Invasion of the fake Lamy Safaris

I recently bought two Lamy Safaris from eBay UK and paid £23.98 (~$30; €28.50). Buying two Lamy Safaris from a normal UK online merchant would have cost £28 (~$35.50; €33.30), so not much more expensive, but the ones from eBay came with converters and they were colours not being made anymore.

real: left, fake: right - the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light
real: left, fake: right – the colour is slightly off, this is more pronounced in artificial light

Well, when I got the pens I noticed that they didn’t feel right. One of them was lime green, Lamy’s special colour in 2008. The ‘screw’ in the cap had the wrong colour and the ink feed was shiny, something I have never seen in any of my Lamy Safaris (I confess, I have a two digit number of them – Oops.). I have a few lime green Safaris, which were bought from Papier Pfeiffer. So I thought I compare the eBay lime green Safari with my Papier Pfeiffer Safari: well, the colour was similar, but not the same. In artificial light the difference between the real and fake colour looks even bigger than in reality.

real: top, fake: bottom - the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny
real: top, fake: bottom – the ink feed of the fake Safari is shiny

A quick search on the Internet revealed that fake Lamy Safaris are a thing. Desk of Lori wrote about it and Goldspot Pens made a video about fake Safaris.

The fake Safaris have certainly improved since Goldspot’s video. My nib looked quite good, the line goes straight to the middle of the breather hole. The ink window also matched up correctly with the grip section, so that’s another area where the fake Safaris have improved.

real: bottom, fake: top - the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines
real: bottom, fake: top – the pattern in the fake LAMY letters is shallower and there are lines

Goldspot Pens mentioned that their real Safari’s cardboard ring had text printed on both sides. I checked several real Safaris and they all only had the text printed on the outside, so the printing on the cardboard ring doesn’t seem to be a reliable indicator whether the pen is real or not.

the fake Safari's F nib is much wider
the fake Safari’s F nib is much wider

So what things did I notice that were different between the fake and the real Safari?

  • In the case of lime green the colour of the fake Safari is slightly off
  • In the case of lime green the ‘screw’ at the top of the cap is the wrong colour
  • The text on the nib is light instead of dark
  • The surface in the embossed LAMY letters of the body have a shallower pattern and some scratchy lines
  • Corners in the plastic are less pronounced
  • The ink feed is shiny instead of looking matt and washed (from testing)?
  • The second Lamy Safari’s cap is cracked near the top, so I assume the plastic isn’t as durable as the real ones
  • The fake Safaris don’t start well. Starting them after the first filling took a along time and they needed some help (pushing ink through) before they finally started
  • When you push ink through the nib section the fake Safari’s ink comes out from the filler hole (under the ink feed), not through the nib’s breather hole.
  • The fake Safari’s F nib is much(!) wider than a real Safari F nib

I have sent the seller a message in case they were not aware that they are selling fake Safari. The two colours I bought are now not available anymore, there’s only a yellow Safari left now.

The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap
The other fake Lamy Safari had a crack on the cap

Thinking how much progress has been made since Goldspot Pen’s video was made the fake Safaris could, if they improve further in the next years, be very difficult to spot ..but even if the appearance is gettng closer to the real thing, it still looks as if they are not as durable, don’t write as well

and they’re also not much cheaper1.


Price: November 2016

Exchange rates: December 2016

  1. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the manufacturing process is not really bothered about being environmentally friendly. []