pencil talk is twelve years old today.
The Graf von Faber-Castell Magnum Perfect Pencil. Top: Sharpened with a Caran d’Ache Sharpening Machine. Middle: Sharpened with an El Casco M-430. Bottom: Factory sharpening. The pencils rest on a Doane Paper moon camera journal.
The Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil line has a new edition. While I’m a big fan of Faber-Castell’s various premium pencils and extenders, the prices, like many consumer goods, have increased considerably over the years. Since only this specific refill would fully utilize the extender’s capabilities, I decided to first try some refills to see how this pencil works.
The challenge of jumbo pencils is that the volume of wood required quadruples as the radius doubles – so manufacturer shortcuts to save money seem inevitable. Fortunately, this pencil is an exception – a creamy dark 4B 4mm core is encased in straight grained cedar, with the signature fluted finish. I have already ordered the extender!
A small trip report. It was a privilege to visit Glasgow and London in September. I loved the trip, and felt very much at home. I was fortunate to meet a Scottish writer and actress who is creating a film project with a strong postal element, an English author and Savile Row tailor, and tour Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen post-dinner, but this report is about stationery.
My first pencil: After taking Virgin Trains from Glasgow to London, my wife and I decided to not plan, fearing we would be quite knackered. We were right. We randomly found Smith & Whistle, where we enjoyed a surprisingly pleasant dinner. To my amazement, there was a small post-cheque treat: a lollipop, a themed calling card, and a pencil! I’ve never heard of a restaurant pencil treat, but it set me up nicely!
Art galleries and museums were delightful. Gift shops typically had branded pencils and notebooks – but usually without attribution to the manufacturer, or recycled pencils, etc. Readers of this blog may imagine that over time – I have enough of this stuff, and declined to purchase these.
These shops excelled in their book selections – super interesting, curated, engaging. I am or have been a member of several museums and art galleries around Southern Ontario and Northern California – and the bookstores at the Tate Modern and Design Museum seem to be a level above.
The Design Museum had an exhibit focusing on the industrial designs of four companies – Apple, Braun, Olivetti, and Sony.
Here is some of the Braun collection:
They had the famous Sotsass Olivetti Valentine in red, but also blue and white:
As to specific stationers, we found time to visit three. I’ll mention the two worth special trips:
Present and Correct is an internet powerhouse. Their Instagram account may be the most popular stationery account in the world! I was really surprised that the store is the size of a postage stamp! It is chock full of stationery goodness (and also has a great book section). I met another stationery pilgrim who asked me if I knew of her favourite, The Regional Assembly of Text. (I do!)
Choosing Keeping has an exemplary pencil selection – the Bosco Woods side by side with the Lothar Faber anniversary pencils. And they know the field. I enjoyed hearing their perspective on the industry.
They are also an exceedingly tiny store.
Did I buy anything? Yes. I hope to feature some purchased items in the future.
It is not a vegetable peeler, nor a magnet. It is a curiosity, a design object created by Oriol Gener. It claims to be able to sharpen a pencil.
It is fun, and surprisingly miniature – from photos, I imagined a full-sized kitchen vegetable peeler – but it is comparable to the size and weight of a large coin.
The packaging has instructional photos that I don’t find helpful.
As one would imagine, you peel away at the pencil with the peeler’s blade.
(An MD pencil.)
I’m quite ambiguous in my reaction. It just can’t be as consistent as a quality regular sharpener. It costs roughly $USD25. It benefits from softer woods. But it is a lot of fun.
What do you think?
From Princeton Architectural Press, we have A notebook for visual thinkers and 12 pencils for visual thinkers in their “grids & guides” series.
The paper wrappers credit the editor, Jay Sacher, and designer, Benjamin English. The notebook is 144 pages, 146mm x 210mm, and features a black linen cover and an interior with a variety of “grids” and “guides”. It is made in China and retails for $USD16.95.
The pencil box features twelve unmarked hexagonal pencils, six in graphite, six in light blue. The box also contains a very thin plastic ruler with circular cutouts. The pencils are made in Taiwan and retail for $USD14.95.
Perhaps because they come from a book publisher, both products have ISBN numbers.
It took me a while to recall that I have other products in this series – both notepads and a red linen cover notebook. They were purchased separately and I no longer have the packaging material.
Overall, the products strike me as thoughtful and that they might be good gifts for the right person. If you actually are a designer or engineer who uses logarithmic or polar graph paper, etc. – I doubt you’d want it presented in the notebook’s semi-random layout. That’s where the novelty side becomes prominent.
The pencils are good basics. I didn’t test if the blue is a real non-photo blue. The ruler is a nice extra, but very flimsy.
The notebook and pencil set pair very nicely, and I’m glad to see that these products were produced.