Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Farewell 2018

Christmas and summer holiday silly season is upon me, so time to officially put blog things on hold.

I hope you all have a happy end to 2018 and a good start to 2019.

Thanks for reading, see you in mid-January or so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Few Fabers

On my desk display this week, a few from Faber-Castell

Twice multi pen  (1 x BP, 1 x MP tip)
TK Fine Vario L
TK Fine Executive

I often think that the TK Fine Executive and Vario L are the "Forgotten Fabers". They have been around for so long and never seem to get the hype, advertising, acknowledgement or attention of their constantly changing array of competitors from Japan and elsewhere.

Sometimes you just have to lay down some ink. Don't hate on me, the G-man makes me do it !
FP e-motion pearwood dark brown
BP e-motion pearwood dark brown
MP e-motion pearwood black

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Rhodia scRipt Mechanical Pencil Review

Rhodia scRipt Mechanical Pencil Review

Rhodia are well known for their orange covered paper products, and have had their own-brand woodcase pencil for many years so it is no real surprise that one day they decided to introduce a mechanical pencil to their range. I have seen it advertised in black, brown and silver but I am showcasing the scRipt in Rhodia’s signature colour, orange. Now when I say orange, I really mean ORANGE! The sort of orange that would make Dutch folk go crazy. If you are not a fan of orange then look away now and go back to your home page because this blog post will burn your eyes. This pencil was sent to me by Cult Pens without any safety warning but luckily I am not orange-intolerant.
rhodia script mechanical pencil
Rhodia orange, adding some colour to any day
Rhodia write the model name as scRipt and the packaging states the mechanical pencil is made in Japan and has a brushed aluminium body. Somewhat unusually for a Made in Japan mechanical pencil, I cannot find the word “Japan” on the pencil itself. I am certainly not implying anything by that statement, I am just making an observation. The hexagonal body is brushed aluminium so is initially cool to the touch. It is anodised or somehow otherwise coloured orange, and what an orange it is.  It is very deep and vibrant, with a reasonably glossy finish, much deeper and more vibrant than the orange of its packaging and of my Rhodia pads. You can see the brushed aluminium effect on the hexagonal body through the colour. The tip section, top button and pocket clip are however slightly different to the body. They appear more like a painted or lacquer finish, smooth and full gloss with a hint of metallic.
orange rhodia script mechanical pencil
Simple times with Rhodia notepad and pencil
Like many aluminium bodied mechanical pencils the Rhodia scRipt is still relatively lightweight, although at 17grams it is heavier than many of its aluminium brethren. In the hand it feels substantial and the balance is fairly neutral, perhaps slightly towards the tip. The hexagonal body should suit most hands but there is no specific grip section or grip enhancement.

The pocket clip is strong and sturdy, and carries the Rhodia branding. Combined with the hexagonal body this is a no desk roll pencil.
rhodia script top cap
Rhodia scRipt top cap, eraser and lead chamber
The lead advance is a standard push top ratchet system, and ten clicks will advance about 8mm of the 0.5mm lead. The mechanism feels smooth and positive. Up at the top end, there is the usual small emergency use eraser under the top cap and you pull the eraser out to access the lead magazine. Unfortunately though the plastic lead magazine tube is quite loose and wobbly inside the outer metal body and when the top cap is in place there is often an audible metallic rattling as the top cap wobbles around inside the metal body. This is a bit of an annoying let down on an otherwise good quality product. I imagine a bit of tape wrapped around the base of the top button would put an end to the rattle.
rhodia script mechanical pencil sliding sleeve tip retracted
scRipt tip retracted
rhodia sliding sleeve extended
scRipt mechanical pencil sliding sleeve extended
I must admit to a surprise the first time I pushed down on the top button. Out popped a 4mm sliding sleeve. I just automatically expected the scRipt would be a general writing pencil, but Rhodia have obviously tried to cater for the more technically orientated artist as well as the general user. To help reduce lead breakage there is also a lead cushioning system in the tip as well, so the lead will spring back in a millimetre or so under heavy pressure. Of course some don't like cushioning systems, feeling they make things feel squishy and less precise, but I don't usually agree with that view as the amount of pressure required to push the spring back is quite a lot. The retractable sliding sleeve means this is a pocket safe pencil.

Overall then this is a decent mechanical pencil, and if you are a fan of Rhodia notebooks or paper and want a mechanical pencil then the scRipt in orange should be on your list of options.

•    Best Points – ORANGE!
•    Not So Good Points – The rattle
•    Price Range – Mid
•    Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No
Dimensions – Length   132mm extended, 9mm across the flats of the hexagonal body section. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

Disclaimer: This Rhodia scRipt mechanical pencil was sent to me free of charge by Cult Pens. Thanks Cult Pens.

The Rhodia scRipt orange mechanical pencil is much more orange than Rhodia pad covers, although these images make the pad cover orange look rather light and washed out. My apologies to the marketing folk at Rhodia.

rhodia script orange mechanical pencil

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cross Time

It is Cross time on my desk display stand. I used to have quite a few more pencils by Cross, but let a few go recently.
A little bit of luxury.

Cross - finally out getting some sun and fresh air

From top to bottom
Century II Medalist
Solo (probably a Solo Classic to be specific, but I'm not 100% sure)
Tech 3 Multi Pen - 2 x BP + MP tips

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Image Gallery

I've put a link in the sidebar, but here it is also Image Gallery. I want to have an image gallery of my collection. Not really information about the pencils, primarily just an image list. I haven't been able to find a free photo organizer that I could use in the way that I wanted, so have created the test Image Gallery using a Blogger template. It's not ideal, but not that bad either. The Navigation page hopefully explains how to use the site. Anyway, I would be interested if anyone has any smart ideas or comments about it or other products, etc.

Winner - Christmas Giveaway

We have a winner.
doggle2 has contacted me to claim his pencils.

Ok, so the random number generator has chosen 4 finalists. The first one of you four to email me wins the pencils from the Christmas Ghosts.

Sharon A
Tina from the Sunshine Factory

You can get my email from the About Me section in the sidebar, just click through and My Profile has an Email link. I will check my spam folder too, because last time the winner ended up there! Alternatively if for some reason you cannot email me then leave a comment and here and we'll get in touch via carrier pigeon or some other method.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Japanese Translation

This is a plea for help. Does anyone read Japanese? I have a few pages from an old Pentel catalogue in Japanese and I would really like to know what they say :)
So if anyone reading this also reads Japanese and thinks they might be able to help please do contact me.

You can email at the address in "About Me (View my complete profile)" in the sidebar.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Christmas Giveaway

Hello Pencil-Friends
It's that time of year again, the retailers have broken out their Christmas decorations, and I going to "share the love" and have this little giveaway from my collection. Hopefully some of you will find these mechanical pencils of interest.

So, the Three Ghosts of Christmas have these, for one of you

From the Ghost of Christmas Past
A small gold filled (i.e. gold plated) Sheaffers ring top pencil and a Conway Stewart Nippy No. 3 green marble pencil. (Both of these work, but are in used condition)

From the Ghost of Christmas Present
A Staedtler graphite 779 and an Ohto "Take Tori" SP-10A wooden body pencil

From the Ghost of Christmas Future
Sheaffer Javelin - ummm… hurling us into the Future? :) 
Papermate Biodegradable and Pilot Progrex BeGreen - Compost and Recycle - the way of future?

The Rules
To enter, simply leave a comment here on this blog post. If you are commenting anonymously then make sure to leave some unique identifier in your comment, e.g. "I'm Alfie from the North Pole".

In one weeks time I will randomly select a small group of finalists, post them here on this blog, and the first one of them to then contact me is the winner. Just to be crystal clear, I will not contact you, you must check here to see if you are one of the finalists, and then you must contact me.

This Giveaway is now closed

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Yard-O-Led Perfecta Victorian Mechanical Pencil Review

Yard-O-Led Perfecta Victorian Mechanical Pencil Review

I bought my first new Yard-O-Led back in 2005, a Deco 34, and ever since then I have had a hankering for something more, for another particular masterpiece in sterling silver.

As you may know, earlier this year PenHeaven sent me a couple of pencils to review, and seeing they are a YOL dealer I thought, “Hey, let’s see if we can do a deal.” Turns out we could, and so…
yard-o-led perfecta victorian pencil
Thanks Pen Heaven - the guiltiest pleasures are always the best.

yard-o-led display box
Yard-O-Led display box. It just keeps going and going.
Currently the Yard-O-Led Perfecta is only made in the Victorian decorative pattern, but other finishes have been available in the past. Victorian is reminiscent of the floral patterns popular back in the Victorian era of the 1800’s. I am a fan of history and nostalgia, so this pattern and the overall style of the pencil with its flared end cap is right up my alley.
Yard-O-Led Perfecta Victorian Pencil
Handmade sterling silver body, traditional YOL twist action mechanism and lead storage, 1.18mm ceramic leads, and brand history all combine to produce a unique writing instrument and experience. Using a Yard-O-Led pencil is, and should be, different to using a ‘modern design’ pencil, be that an economical or luxury brand one. This is a functional pencil but it is an awful long way away from utilitarian.
yard-o-led perfecta victorian pencil pattern
Perfecta Victorian pattern

yard-o-led perfecta pencil tip
Perfecta Victorian pencil tip
In the hand then, the Perfecta is neutrally balanced and surprisingly light, lighter than I expected. In reality the Perfecta weighs in at about 26 grams so it’s not really a lightweight. It is though a relatively slim pencil. Obviously it is a general writing pencil, suited for letters, notes and so on, as opposed to technical or art work. The long tapering nose encourages you to grip further up the barrel, higher than my personal natural position. If you are person who grips your writing instrument right down close to the tip then this is probably not a pencil for you.
yard-o-led pencil hallmarks

There is a blank panel where you can have your name or other details engraved. Already marked into your YOL though is a full set of British hallmarks. My Perfectas hallmarks show, Maker = Yard-O-Led, Material = sterling silver (92.5% pure silver), Certified by Birmingham assay office in 2017. I love hallmarks! Speaking of sterling silver, it does of course tarnish. YOL include a silver polishing cloth with your pencil and you will need to give it a bit of a polish every now and then to restore and keep that lovely silver shining bright and glorious. Chrome, nickel, palladium, rhodium and various other hard coat metals look nice and shiny too, but for my money, there’s no comparison with polished sterling silver. It has a warmth and colour all of its own.

The pocket clip is proudly marked Yard-O-Led and individually numbered. Mine is number 2637. The clip is riveted and soldered on. Just a word of warning, anyone who has seen more than a few silver pocket clips will have seen a number of them “sprung out”. Silver is nowhere near as strong and springy as steel and clearly some people over-stretch their pocket clip and it becomes permanently bent upwards a little, no longer contacting the pencil body. I would suggest you just primarily regard the pocket clip as a beautiful decorative attachment and excellent anti-roll device. Do not attach it to anything thicker than a thin fabric pocket or a couple of sheets of paper.

All Yard-O-Leads are 1.18mm screw action mechanical pencils. There are no other options. You turn the top cap round and round to advance the lead. Spare leads are secured inside, and your pencil holds a total of twelve 3 inch leads thus making one yard of lead. That’s 91.4cm of lead for those of you with metric minds. When I say secured, I mean secured. Unlike most pencils YOLs do not have a magazine chamber in which leads are loosely stored. Rather the leads are all individually secured in position by a system of tiny saddle clips. I would love to post a picture of the storage, but I simply don’t have the photographic setup to successfully shoot a view looking down inside the body.
yard-o-led pencil mechanism

Changing the lead on a Yard-O-Led is a complicated affair compared to modern mechanical pencils, but that’s all part of the charm. I say complicated, and it is compared to putting a few sticks of lead into the top of your modern push top ratchet mechanism pencil, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it’s not really that big of a deal. YOL provide good instructions on the procedure. Also, the long leads, their diameter and ceramic composition mean they do not wear down particularly fast and you don’t have to change leads all that often, so don’t let lead changing put you off in any way at all. Unfortunately though, 1.18mm leads are not all that common and you are basically limited to just HB and B grade. If anyone from YOL should ever read this post then I would really urge them to offer a much softer option, e.g. add a 4B to your range.

Like all Yard-O-Leds, the Perfecta is handmade, and so no two are exactly the same, and the quality of workmanship may vary. If you look closely at the engraved ring around the top cap you will see that the ring is not quite closed, that the ‘end’ of the circle does not quite meet the ‘start’, that whislt going around the cap the engraving has got ever so slightly out of alignment. Now you may well consider that a fault, and I certainly umm’ed and ahh’ed about it when I first noticed it. I did think about contacting YOL and asking for a replacement cap, but I haven’t. It’s a handmade item, and for me personally, that little flaw is part of this pencils story, something that makes it unique, a reminder of the human touch in today’s mass produced machine dominated world.

In closing then, the way I see things, writing with any Yard-O-Led, and the Perfecta Victorian in particular, is an invitation to take a moment to contemplate, to take an extra breath, to just take things a little bit more relaxed and slower. The price tag is big, but put a YOL on your wish list.

•    Best Points – Seriously? Just look at it! Owning an heirloom piece.
•    Not So Good Points – Tarnish, lack of lead grades.
•    Price Range – Stratospheric.
•    Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No, but don’t let that make you think this isn’t a fantastic pencil and one that you should seriously consider owning.

Dimensions – Length 130mm, diameter 8mm across the main body. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

Disclaimer – This Yard-O-Led Perfecta Victorian pencil was purchased at a discount from Pen Heaven. A review was part of the deal.

PS – Most Yard-O-Led models are also available in ballpoint, and some in rollerball and fountain pen.
PPS – For those of you who are interested in some history, please click through to George Clements excellent article on the development of the Perfecta.

Now I can finally take the photo...
"From Mascot to Perfecta"

Friday, November 09, 2018

2, 3, 4, 5...Onwards to Glory.

I've been struggling a bit this year, Marie Kondo constantly whispering in my ear, telling me to get rid of all sorts of stuff, including from the MP collection. The collection peaked at 741 pencils early this year, and is now down in the mid 500's, despite adding in about 50 this year. Also that reduction doesn't include the ephemera and wooden pencils that are also now gone. Anyway, getting rid of that 200 or so mechanical pencils was the easy stuff - duplicates, things I didn't really like, etc but now its getting harder, and I still haven't really got any firm idea on what I should or shouldn't keep other than, "Does it float my boat?...  or "spark joy" in KonMari speak.

So, having got rid of the easy and obvious stuff I recently decided it was time to start Round 2 and have another look through the collection and start making some harder calls. The Pentel section was first up. I expected to get rid of a bunch of pencils, but instead I had a epiphany Penteliphany.

0.2mm, 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm... and another 0.5mm :)

Some awesome sets - Excaliburs, SG's, PS's.... CIL's, Bats... I am renewed and reinvigorated :)

Friday, November 02, 2018

Rotring Display

One Dozen Red Roses Rings

This week on the desk display, twelve of my Rotrings.

The first stand.
Top to Bottom
  • 800
  • Rapid Pro
  • 600 - version without "Rotring 600" printed on the body.
  • 500
  • TS Slide 0.3mm - not made in Japan or Germany, but rather West Germany :) A reminder that innovative sleeves and mechanisms to enhance the usability of 0.3mm lead have been around for over 30 years.  
  • 300 - 2mm leadholder
and on the other stand.
Top to bottom
  • 900 - a "side knock" body bend mechanism.
  • Newton Trio multi pen/pencil.
  • Trio multi pencil - 0.35/0.5/0.7mm.
  • Side Knock - like the 900, a "side knock" body bend mechanism, but unlike the 900 it is a Rotring without a rot ring.
  • Initial
  • Core Tecnor - psychedelic rubber madness.
Some more views.

And the other rack

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Derwent Precision Mechanical Pencil Review

Derwent Precision Mechanical Pencil Review

Sometime in the 1500’s the world’s first, and still only, large-scale deposit of high purity solid graphite was discovered in Cumbria, England. So, having discovered pencil lead, all that needed to be invented was the pencil. Many will debate the origins of the pencil, but for my money, if it puts graphite onto paper then its lineage goes back to Cumbria. Today’s direct descendant of the Cumbrian pencil industry is Derwent, who still manufacture in Cumbria. These days Derwent is part of the US multi-national Acco Brands, whose stable of brands also includes Artline, Esselte and Marbig amongst others.

As a collector of mechanical pencils I have previously felt compelled to buy two contemporary pencils simply because of their nod to an important part of pencil history. First was the Cleo Skribent Der Gessner, and second was the Platinum Hayakawa, but now there is a third, the Derwent Precision.

The Precision is Derwent’s first foray into the mechanical pencil market. Given their strength is pencils for artists, it is not surprising they are pitching their first mechanical pencil at the art market. Being manufacturers of wooden pencils it is also not surprising that they have contracted out the manufacture of their mechanical pencil. What is perhaps a little surprising though is their choice to go with a thin lead mechanical pencil rather than a leadholder. I assume they thought a 2mm leadholder was too similar to their woodcase pencils and if they were going to go mechanical, they might as well go all in.

First off then the Derwent Precision is a long slim mechanical pencil, somewhat reminiscent of a Derwent woodcase pencil. It is lightweight in the hand and neutrally balanced. The metal body barrel is hexadecagonal… I hope I counted right… and without any specific grip zone or grip enhancements, all again reminiscent of a woodcase pencil. The grip is fine for those who like to vary their grip placement up or down the body, but for extended use I feel that some form of grip enhancement would have been a good idea, even if just a few concentric rings.

The ‘not quite round’ body and pocketclip combine to put some limits on desk rolling. The pocket clip is a good combination of enough strength and spring to be really useful, but not so much as to rip your papers.

The lead sleeve is a 3mm thin metal pipe and it is a sliding sleeve for pocket safety. Combined with the conical tip section there is good vision of the lead for doing fine detailed work. It is also a good rigid system, although it does have lead cushioning.

Fully prepared for all lead emergencies
How to refill the lead magazine
There is a small emergency use eraser under the push top button. As usual you remove the eraser to refill the lead magazine. The lead advance mechanism feels and sounds good and solid. Ten clicks of the top button will advance about 7mm of lead.

The retail hang-sell carded pencil also comes with a refill pack of leads. On the lead refills are three of the most fearful words in the world of mechanical pencil leads, “Made in China”. It has been a long time since I have bothered to buy, use or try Chinese lead, because past experience has lead me to the conclusion that Chinese lead is abysmal. However, Derwent are themselves lead manufacturers and surely they would not risk their long standing reputation on cheap D-grade lead? Now I caution that I have not done any real comparative testing, and that my pencil is 0.7mm, but I must admit that from my general use I have been pleasantly surprised. This Derwent Precison lead is perfectly respectable, and the inviolability of the formula “Chinese + lead = bad + very” is now under threat.

Overall then I think this is a respectable, if unremarkable, general workhorse of a mechanical pencil. The Derwent name and history is what sets it apart, and I think that alone means you should consider adding it to your collection.

•    Best Points – It’s Derwent. Opening my eyes to Chinese lead.
•    Not So Good Points – The grip
•    Price Range – Low
•    Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No

Dimensions – Length  153mm, ‘diameter’ 8mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.