Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Kia Ora (Hi)

2008 is coming to a close, here's a little message from some erasers that recently arrived in my letterbox. Thanks Lexikaliker.

Ake ake kia kaha (Forever and ever be strong) [Just in case 2008 has been a tough year]

He kona ra 2008 (Goodbye 2008)
Hang loose [like the moose?] in 2009
2009 going to be a good year, kei ti pai (OK)
Stress free.

Ka kite ano! (See you again)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Time Out

Well folks, it’s that time of the year again, summer holiday season is fast approaching. The shops are clogged, the motorway grinds to a standstill at 3pm, busy, busy, busy. So, I’m afraid blogging is off the To-Do List for the next month or so. I might put up a short snippet or two, but full service will not be resumed until around mid-January.

I’ve enjoyed my pencils and blogging through 2008, and for those of you who celebrate it, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and hope 2009 will be a good year for us all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The DMP's

Nobels, Oscars, Baftas, Logies, Tellys, Golden Globes, Geminis, Grammies…well in a fit of self aggrandisement, I’m inventing my own annual awards too - The DMP's. I think it’s helpful for me to review the year and think about the good and bad, what I enjoyed most, etc. Keep the blog enthusiasm up.

Any pencil or item featured on my blog in the relevant calendar year is eligible for an award. Awards will not be given if there are no suitable candidates. The awards are:-

The “Bonus Slice of Pav” and “Last Nights Left Over Warm Flat Stale Ale” - special awards for anything judged worthy of an award, good or bad, respectively.

The “Pencil of Shame” awarded for the worst pencil.

And the supreme award, the “Mordan-Hayakawa Legacy Trophy” for the best pencil of the year.

The judge offers no justification or defence of his decisions.

So, without further to-do, the envelopes please….

This year there was only one nominee for the “Pencil of Shame”, which is one too many, but the judge decided it was a worthy nomination and thus awarded the “Pencil of Shame” to the Papermate Write Bros. Mechanical Pencil.

In a similar vein, after some deliberation, the judge decided to give a “Last Nights Left Over Warm Flat Stale Ale” prize to Faber-Castell TK-Fine Executive Mechanical Pencil.

On a more positive note the judge was happy to consider several nominees for a “Bonus Slice of Pav”, and decided to dish out one slice (with extra cream) to The Cats Pyjamas.

Drumroll please….

For the supreme award, the “Morden-Hayakawa Legacy Trophy”, there were 5 nominees.
Parker Duofold
Pentel Accu Graph PG1505AD
Pentel Energize PL77
Staedtler 925 25
Uni Kuru Toga

And the winner of the inaugural 2008 Morden-Hayakawa Legacy Trophy, the Supreme DMP award is…the Uni Kuru Toga. For well and truly showing us that mechanical pencil design and innovation is alive and kicking.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Staedtler Integrity 9505 Mechanical Pencil Review

Staedtler Integrity 9505 Mechanical Pencil Review

The Staedtler Integrity is a rare beast in my part of the world. It is not part of the range offered by Staedtler down under, and is not in their international catalogue. I had a quick look at a few Staedtler country specific sites – it is not shown on the national websites for Australia, UK, Hong Kong / China, Japan, Mexico or Canada and is thus seemingly a USA item only. Given that the USA offers the Integrity, I personally find its absence from both north and south of the border a little strange.

My Integrity was supplied in a hang-sell blister pack. I find the design and artwork of this packaging to be rather uninspiring and dated. The packaging emphasises two selling points – a free replacement eraser and the lead maximising double-clutch mechanism.

Out of its packaging the Integrity is a reasonably good looking mechanical pencil. Nothing outstanding, but the clean simple lines and the black and chrome colour scheme go well together. Overall the look is both a little technical and business executive.The pencil is of average weight and of course has a rubber grip. The grip is round with grooves cut into it that make it slightly triangular in cross-section. The rubber compound does have some grip factor and it is slightly soft to the touch. The grooves add another factor and as far as rubber grips go this is probably one of the better ones. Maybe I am going soft in my old age? Only a year or two ago I would have hated this rubber grip. I still don’t like them, but I’m a bit more objective now.The pocket clip is a plain but efficient looking piece of chrome metal. It works quite well. Also up at the top end of the pencil we have the twist out eraser. The blister card trumpets a free 1 ¼ inch long replacement eraser. For those of us outside the USA, it is 33mm long and 3.7mm diameter, but only about 26mm of the length is usable. It is a reasonably efficient compound. I would normally have said it was a vinyl eraser, but I have recently come to believe there are some very vinyl looking “PVC-free” (i.e. non-vinyl) plastic eraser compounds around. Like most of these twistable erasers it erases relatively well, and the slim diameter core is good for precise rather than bulk area erasing.The lead advance mechanism is a push top ratchet system. The eraser cartridge is the “push top” button and you pull the whole eraser cartridge out to access the lead refill chamber. Ten clicks of the mechanism will get you just under 7mm of lead. Now, the real feature of this mechanism, and indeed the whole pencil, is the double-clutch mechanism. You may well say “So what?” to all of this, but most mechanical pencil mechanisms are quite wasteful of lead. It varies, but usually they won’t advance the last 8 to 12mm of lead and you have to start a new stick. With a standard 60mm long stick of lead that’s around about 1/6th or 16% wastage.The Integrity’s double clutch system holds the lead right up inside the pencil as normal, but also a second chuck grips the lead right down at the tip and enables 97.5% lead usage. What seems to happen is that as your lead nears its end, the next stick of lead feeds into the mechanism and continues to push the first stick out. Thus the mechanism will advance the whole stick and you get to use virtually its entire length. However, when you are on your last stick of lead and the refill chamber is empty, there is no new stick to push on the old one, and the lead will stop advancing with about 14mm of lead still inside the mechanism.

The lead sleeve is a short cone, suitable for writing but not draughting, and is not retractable. However it is not a particularly sharp point so the Integrity is not totally unsafe in your pocket. The sleeve is of course part of the double clutch. When you activate the lead advance it extends out slightly and splits apart slightly to advance the lead. It is actually a little set of jaws, not just a lead guide or holder as on most other pencils. This double clutch mechanism does theoretically allow close to 100% use of your lead, but I personally felt I had many more lead breakages than normal, so I am not convinced that it actually achieved more words per stick of lead than normal.

Marked on the barrel in silver lettering we have, “Staedtler 9505 0.5mm Pencil Japan”. Full marks for precise identification.

  • Best Points – Looks good in black, double-clutch is an interesting idea.
  • Not So Good Points – Lead breakage.
  • Price Range – Low.
  • Does This Pencil Make It Into The Top 5? – No.

Dimensions – Length 146mm, diameter main body 9mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Cats Pyjamas

Not normally my thing, but I saw a pencil being auctioned by a local pen-turner. The black and white acrylic resin body really struck a chord, it just called out to me. Something almost Conway-Stewart’ish about it, and the price was quite reasonable. So I bought it.
Push top ratchet, 2mm leads. Quite frankly, I am ridiculously pleased with it. Tried out a new photographic technigue with a mirror. Extremely pleased with that too. I feel like I’ve got the cat’s pyjamas.
For a full high-res version of the above photo you can click on this link to Flickr. Should have done some dusting before photographing it ! Live and learn.
Two self-portraits