Sunday, January 13, 2008

Manufactum Druckstift Feinstrichmine Mechanical Pencil Review

Just to set the scene, Manufactum are a German company that sells a wide range of products, from food and clothing to furniture and office supplies, via the web and their good old fashioned hardcopy catalogue. I’ve got a few pages of their hardcopy catalogue and they are great. I really like browsing these sorts of things. I particularly like the featured page with all its fancy globes, compasses, altimeters, etc. The company by-line is “The Good Things In Life Still Exist”. I obtained my pencil the easy way, that is, someone very kindly just sent me one, namely Gunther from Germany. Anyway, enough introduction.

Manufactum Item 1765 1830 “Druckstift Feinstrichmine” 0.5mm which is apparently a rather fancy and somewhat unusual way of saying “Fine Lead Propelling Pencil”, which is what the English version of the catalogue says.
It’s an all metal, smallish pencil, rather subdued in its looks. The main body is a brushed satin finish and the trims are polished. In comparison to many other pencils it seems to be a little in-between size wise. By that I mean too big to be a mini-pencil but too small to give the impression of being full-size. Ladies size is the sort of description that comes to mind.

Much to my surprise, this is a vanishing point pencil. You push down on the top button to advance the lead holding sleeve out of the body and it locks into place. Then short clicks of the top button activate the ratchet lead advance mechanism (10 clicks for 6mm of lead), and a hard push will release and retract the point back into the body. The spring mechanism controlling this vanishing point seems pretty strong and powerful. One minor little quibble I have is that when retracted, the end of the lead sleeve is only just inside the body, so if your lead was a little longer than average it will be left sticking out of the end of the pencil body. Overall though, the vanishing point provides the ultimate in pocket protection, and combined with the smallish size, I think this pencil would be well suited to slipping inside a pocketbook, notebook, purse, compendium, etc. The pocket clip also ties in with this theme. It’s a small flat but quite strong piece of steel.

As you can see in the photos, the grip section is a very fine diamond cut pattern. Despite it being a very fine smooth cut pattern, I did find it a little uncomfortable and abrasive on the skin after longer periods of use. But maybe I’m just a wussy. On the positive side though, there’s no chance of losing your grip! The grip is a fairly narrow one (ladies size remember) so probably not really suited to those who wear size extra-large gloves.

The lead sleeve is a 4mm long thin tube so despite my earlier statements about it being a notebook pencil there’s no question it’s also suitable as a draughting pencil. However, like most vanishing points, there is a very small amount of play in the tip, so that might worry the super-precision folk amongst us. There is a small eraser under the top cap, which as expected covers the lead refill chamber. It appears only a 0.5mm lead version is available.

As far as I can tell there are no markings or other identifications on this pencil. It is the ultimate generic, so generic you might just find it being sold by all sorts of crowds. For instance, go looking on the Standardgraph catalogue [Broken link removed] and you will find item 571421, which is the exact same pencil. Generic or not though, this pencil seems to be pretty good quality.
  • Best Points – Vanishing point.
  • Not So Good Points – No identification markings. Diamond grip can be a problem for some.
  • Price Range – Low/Mid.
Dimensions – Length 135mm with tip out, diameter 7mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip. Weight 16g.


Max said...

Thanks to both you and G√ľnther for pointing me to Manufactum. Interesting company with lots of nice things :)

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you've laid hands on their leadholder by chance? Looks pretty cool to me . . .

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Max and Steve - yes Manufactum have some good stuff on their books, but unfortunately I only this one pencil. Nothing else.

Anonymous said...

nice. gonna have to get one now. 5714231 looks nice, too, in the standardgraph catalog.


Anonymous said...

How can I get the one from the Standardgraph catalogue? Being in the US, it's fairly expensive to buy from Manufactum.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi tramark. Well I'm sure you've got it easier in the US than i have in my part of the world :).

I don't know if Standardgraph do much in the US, but PencilThings have some of their stuff so maybe they could suggest something.