Bic Gilbert 33 pencil

pencil talk has some very informed readers! Frank, who kindly sent me two of the pencils that are part of this series, yesterday left a great comment which includes assessments of many of the pencils we’ll see this week – and others.

Bic Gilbert 33 pencil

Today we see another Bic pencil with a longstanding name – the Gilbert.

It is a rare round pencil from a major manufacturer. The style – red body, black cap, white cap ring – is traditional and seen in many vintage writing implements. I don’t know the design’s origin.

Bic Gilbert 33 pencil

Made in 3H though 3B grades, the shape plus range constitute a unique offering for a mainstream pencil. The two I have, in HB and B, write nicely (especially the B). The only issue I see is the finish – it doesn’t match the quality of the writing experience. The white cap ring is washed out, the imprints slightly blurred, and the lacquer, while not bad, not at world standards.

Bic Gilbert 33 pencil

Like the Critérium 550, they appear to be made in China.

Also recommended, if you can find them.

My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for kindly sending me these pencils.

Further reading:

From Bic: Official Gilbert 33 product page.

Bic Critérium 550 pencil

Bic Critérium 550 pencil

Here is the modern incarnation of a classic pencil. The Critérium name dates at least as far back as the 1930s, and has continued through various mergers and acquisitions to the current Bic ownership.

This is a pencil I have sought for years. I’m not sure why, but Bic seems to be engaged in very selective pencil product sales and export. The blog showed a beautiful Critérium leadholder earlier this year. The pencil collector in France who sold that leadholder to me also stated that no Bic woodcase pencils are available in his area! Is that really possible?

Bic Critérium 550 pencil

The pencil has a distinctive green body, with black cap and white cap ring. It is available in a range of twelve degrees. Imprints are in black or white. My understanding is that this is Bic’s premiere woodcase pencil.

Bic Critérium 550 pencil

The pencil writes very well, and sharpens easily. It is another pencil whose performance surpasses the appearance. I would guess that it could compete with major global brands on most quality aspects. Yet, the lacquer and imprint details unfortunately look neglected. Bic is major design firm, and I’m sure they could do better.

Bic Critérium 550 pencil

A very close look also reveals that the pencil is stamped “China”.

Recommended, if you can find it.

My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for kindly sending me these pencils.

Further reading:

From leadholder.com: Some interesting brand history.

From Bic: Official product page.

Maped Black’Peps pencil

Maped Black'Peps pencil

This is the first in a series on the pencils of France. The series is unfortunately a few years late, as France, like several other western countries, appears to have relocated most pencil production to China.

Maped (Manufacture d’Articles de Precision et de Dessin) was founded in Annecy, France in 1947, and their online history indicates that their product diversification started in the 1990s. Their office supplies at the inexpensive end such as staplers and erasers are commonly found in Canada. Every Maped item I’ve personally seen hailed from China.

We see here the Black’Peps pencil. An official product page doesn’t reveal too much. The name doesn’t quite register with me, but maybe someone has an idea about the reference?

Maped Black'Peps pencil

Available in five grades, and the HB with an eraser option, the pencil is in the triangular shape. The edges are orange, and the main body and cap are in a grayscale, with the darkness of the paint corresponding to the darkness of the lead. e.g. The B pencil has a darker finish than the HB pencil.

The pencil sharpens easily, and while the HB version leaves a nice dark line, the smoothness seems to be in the average or mildly scratchy range. I’m not sure I really like the black/orange pattern, but it is different.

My thanks to blog reader Frank for kindly sending me this pencil.

Lyra 334 Profi copying carpenter pencils

Lyra 334 Profi copying carpenter pencils

Here is one of the most unusual and specialized pencils ever manufactured.

The Lyra 334 Profi is a nicely finished oval carpenter’s pencil, with silver lettering on dark blue. It is manufactured in the extra long 240mm length. That alone makes it an interesting specialty pencil. Yet this pencil is so unusual that the format barely registers among the special features.

Lyra 334 Profi copying carpenter pencils

It’s also a copying pencil. That’s right – it has aniline dye added to the lead. Why? My guess would be to support marking on damp and humid wood surfaces.

There are two variants – the 334S is a pure copying pencil, and the 334 is an even more incredible double ended pencil, 2/3 regular lead and 1/3 copying lead.

Finally, this pencil is an additional rarity in being made from White Fir. Though there are mentions here and there of this species being used, the success of cedar, jelutong, and basswood seems to have banished most competitors from the market place. I am glad to have found a rare example of another tree in use.

Lyra 334 Profi copying carpenter pencils

So how does it work? The first task is sharpening. Unfortunately, it and other Lyra pencils don’t fit the Keson! So out with the penknife. This is where I am guessing that a working carpenter would have a good array of sharp knives and cutters handy – because a pocket knife is losing in the battle to the Fir. Eventually, I got some lead exposed on both ends of the 334.

The lead end marks faintly – perhaps an H grade, and the copying end even fainter. Some water reveals the purple dye of the copying end. It flows less easily than most “writing” copying pencils. Yet – what a hidden treasure it is.

Lyra 334 Profi copying carpenter pencils

A 240mm oval shaped double-ended carpenter pencil made from White Fir with one third a copying pencil lead. The most extreme specialty pencil?

This is the fourth of a four-part mini-series. Hope you enjoyed it!

Stonemasonry pencils – the Bleispitz 0341 and Lyra 331 Profi

Stonemasonry pencils - the Bleispitz 0341 and Lyra 331 Profi

Stonemasonry pencils were mentioned at this site before I had ever seen one.

Here we see a 240mm version from Bleispitz (the 0341), and a 300mm version from Lyra (the 331 Profi).

Stonemasonry pencils - the Bleispitz 0341 and Lyra 331 Profi

With extremely hard 6H leads, they are meant for writing on stone and rock surfaces. Mr. Slate probably used one.

My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for assistance in acquiring these pencils.

This is the third of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: Lyra Profi copying carpenter pencils.