Monday, June 30, 2008

The Vikings Have Landed

Over a millennium ago the Vikings were exploring, raiding, trading, and invading their way around Europe and across the northern Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and even on to touch Canada. They’ve been a little quiet in more recent times, but not so long ago a longship slipped quietly out to sea. Organised and equipped by Henrik of Kobenhavn, the Penol Expedition has sailed in record time from Dansk (Denmark) to the far-away lands of Udgaard. And so just a few days ago I returned home to be greeted “Heil ock sæl” the red Viking “Skjoldungen”, leader of the expedition.

Penol is a Danish writing instruments company. They (via their predecessors) were the Parker distributors in Scandinavia from 1905, and from the 1930’s they also manufactured Parkers themselves in their own Danish factory, but this ended in the 1960’s. Times change though, and these days their homepage states “The entire production of Penol products is now outsourced to leading manufacturers of writing instruments. The manufacturers are placed all over the world, primarily in South East Asia, and Europe.”

So, without further to-do, here is the Penol Party that arrived on my doorstep.

Vikings, fanning out across the world.
First the Penol P200. Obviously an economy model – hmmm, times have changed, a Viking dressed in fluorescent pink? Odin and Thor are probably rolling their eyes. I don’t know the price of these pencils but assuming the P200 is priced at an economy level then it looks fairly reasonable. Pictured with the P200 we have an unknown model. It is apparently Penol, but they do not put their name or anything on it. They are rightly ashamed of this nasty little side-clicker.The Penol Double-Click. A seemingly respectable vanishing point pencil. The rubber grip is a bit of a monstrosity though.
Another fluorescent one, this time the Penol Pastel with a long twist out eraser cartridge.
The Penol Elite. Again the rubber grip. Penol definitely seem to like their rubber grips.
The Penol Tyre. Grrrr, this is a shocker. Well, I kind of applaud the idea, but the execution is abysmal. It’s just a plain white barrelled pencil and they have glued on the tyre-tread decoration. But the tyre tread is quite raised, about 1mm thick rubber sheet, and it’s poorly glued, so that it’s starting to lift off. Surely a few hours or days of constant use would cause all sorts of skids and crashes as the tread lifted.
Keen eyed readers may have noted there is one more Penol in the original picture - . more on that one next time.

Whilst this was a Penol expedition, the ship captain was not Penol, and we finish this saga with expedition leader Skjoldungen (newly named Fafnersherre), a sturdy wooden fellow, like his longship.Henrik tells me that back in the good old days there was the Viking Pencil Co, and as he recalls things, they manufactured the Viking in three grades - No. 1 Soft, No. 2 HB and No. 3 Hard. There was an office pencil too, yellow in HB only. No ferules or erasers. Sometime in the 70’s they were discontinued and the Viking factory closed, the end of a piece of Danish cultural history. However in 2005, Esselte started to offer pencils under the Viking brandname. Apparently the demand for Viking pencils is rising and recently the yellow office version came back too.
So thanks Henrik, another saga for the annals of the people.


Keith said...

It is great to see the Penol Double-Click mentioned. This was my favorite pencil in college as it was low cost and pocket-friendly. The college bookstore stopped selling them in 2003 and I broke my last one not long after. By 2005 I could no longer keep gluing the pieces into a usable form and retired the Double-Click for a Pilot Vanishing Point. All the markings had worn off the pencil years prior, so I was never able to track down another Double-Click. Thanks for reviewing it, I will begin my search anew.

LePhare said...

I reconise the one that's missing. A F&C Grip Plus 0.5 clone? Looks similar to one Germ got for me for a couple of dollars from M.G. I'll be interested to see what comes next.

Germ said...

keith, check italian listings for a Y&C Grip350. Looks identical/

Kiwi-Is that double click made in Japan? if it is, it was made by Y&C, just like the Sanford Extend.

Anonymous said...

The "vanishing point" Penol Double Click is identical to my Alvin "DRAF/TEC-RETRACT DR05 (purchased in the USA). The design of the pocket clip reminds me of an old Ohto pencil I have, but I don't know the relationship (if any) between Penol, Alvin, and Ohto.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Folks - Whilst being honest and declaring they don't make them, Penol obviously don't want us to identify the manufacturers. There are no country of origin indications on the pencils, and the GTINs (barcodes) are of Danish origin so they haven't fallen for that old trick.

LePhare said...

I've put up some pics of the Cozy Mate from M.G to compare with your Penol. Nothing on the clone to say where it was made either.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I have enjoyed learning about this company, which was new to me.

A nice follow up, staying in Scandinavian territory, might be a review of a Ballograf pencil from Sweden.

Time Waster said...

The Green twisty one is the exact same this as a Sandford Titanium
which is no longer made.

Time Waster said...

Doing a google search I guess it's still out there just haven't seen it on Retail level.

Anonymous said...

My apologies, but the quality of your reviews has gone way down recently. Why don't you post more guest reviews?

Anonymous said...

@kerry: You are of course entitled to your opinion, but my apologies, a brief comment like that is only indented to hurt. That wasn't the idea, was it?
I’ve read Dave’s reviews and other stuff with great pleasure almost since the start of this blog and I can’t see the drop in quality you are referring to.
I suggest that if you don’t like it – don’t read it.


Kiwi-d said...

“John Kerry”,
Phoooo! Well that stings a little. Still, got to take the bad with the good, and I appreciate you stating your opinion rather than you just stopping reading. Well regarding the quality of my reviews, are you referring to proper reviews that have the wording “mechanical pencil review” in their title, or to other sundry articles and postings like this Penol one? Off the top of my head I don’t personally feel that the quality of my (proper) reviews has gone down recently, but I’ll try and give that a little objective assessment over the next few weeks. I am publishing less often these days, primarily due to time constraints rather than a lack of interest. Maybe though I am getting jaded, worn out and sliding down the quality ladder J

As for guest reviews, I created this blog primarily for my reviews and articles rather than as a general review forum like the old Pencil Revolution. Having said that, I do publish the occasional guest review and I would like to publish more, maybe one every few months or so, but very few people take me up on the offer. When people contact me asking if I’m going to review their favourite pencil I often reply suggesting they submit a guest review or article or pictures or anything really. I guess I’ve issued about 30 such invitations and that’s the source of my 4 or so guest articles to date. So, if you or anyone else wants to submit something (review, article, discussion, glorious photos) I’d be very happy to consider it.

“Anonymous” – thanks for your supportive comment.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave. It's really quite disappointing that this blog is coming to an end. Although I may not a been a reader from the start I really enjoy reading your reviews. I hope before you close if you could tell me if I would be able to buy the Penol double click online somewhere? I found some sites, but are only shipping in Denmark, or are ridiculously expensive.

Thanks, and hopefully one day you'll be back : )