The 779 is a push top ratchet mechanism pencil. There is a small eraser under the metal cap, and you can get the cap back on without activating the lead advance mechanism. The eraser compound is like the 775, but unfortunately not as good as the Staedtler Mars Plastic series of erasers. The pocket clip is a functional simple spring steel clip. The lead holding sleeve is tapered and not suitable for draughting, but it is fully retractable.
So far so good, but the 779 has two features worthy of detailed discussion. Firstly the rubber grip. Well it’s a contoured moulded rubber piece with a leather wrinkle type pattern in it. Initially it felt a little greasy or oily so I gave it a good clean. That definitely improved things. This grip feels much more “rubbery” than the Mars Micro 775’s grip. It is a hard compound so there is little to no cushioning but you definitely get that rubber feel. You feel some element of grip from the rubber, much more than the 775, but I’m still not really convinced that it is that much better than a normal plastic moulded grip section.
Now the second point is it has a sliding sleeve. The Staedtler webpage on the 779 doesn’t mention it, but they mention the sliding sleeve feature of the 779 in their downloadable document “Product Information, Mechanical Pencils”.
You start off writing just like with any other pencil but when the lead is worn down so that the metal sleeve touches the paper, it starts retracting. It then still feels fairly smooth when you are writing; but your writing is definitely not as dark on the paper and you get some scrape marks through your writing. Eventually the sleeve will end up semi-retracted back into the tip and whilst it still works, you can tell things are not really at the optimum setting. Overall the best thing to do is to treat it like a normal push top ratchet pencil and just have the sliding sleeve as a back-up for a few words when the lead runs down.
- Best Points – The sliding sleeve.
- Not So Good Points – Not really any, other than some personal “Dave Things” like the look and the rubber grip.
- Price Range – Low.
Dimensions – Length 150mm, diameter 9mm at narrowest part of the grip. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.
So, another German pencil means another notable German with a New Zealand connection. Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky (1828 – 1868) was a Prussian-born farmer, goldminer, “adventurer / mercenary / soldier”. As a commander of the Forest Rangers (the “special forces” of the time), von Tempsky attained legendary status for his daring actions during the New Zealand Wars. However, one mans daring is another’s foolhardy recklessness, and von Tempsky met his end in battle, some contemporaries saying his continual (unsuccessful) pursuit of winning a Victoria Cross led him to one foolhardy action too many. As a talented amateur painter, he probably knew a thing or two about pencils. This is one of his watercolours, portraying one of his engagements with Maori forces.