The last two weeks, we’ve looked at a few pencils from France. Or to be more precise, pencils from French companies.
Let’s take a look at them together, and see how they compare. I am including these pencils from this month:
The Evolution Triangle pencil is not included, being an oversize specialty pencil.
Samples of the following previously mentioned pencils were also retrieved from the pencil talk archives for this test:
A Rhodia pad (a No. 38 in particular) seemed to be an appropriate test paper. I coudn’t find a French made eraser, so testing was done with a Spanish manufactured Factis.
Overall, it is clear that these pencils didn’t come from a North American office supply store – not a bland yellow pencil in the bunch! Each single pencil (except the Mentor) has an unusual colour or design. I like all of them, but the Black’Peps and Critérium 550 are the standouts for me.
I tried sharpening each pencil in a Carl Decade DE-100 sharpener. Even the plastic Evolution. All sharpened well, but I noticed that the triangular pencils weren’t necessarily gripped properly.
Laying down a line, I tried each pencil I had in grades HB through 2B. The Evolution, though perhaps having other merits, remained a weak performer in my view. The Mentor as well seemed scatchy. The nicest lines were from the Critérium, Black’Peps, and especially the Graphite 601.
Handwriting erasure was a surprise – there were distinct differences. The Factis eraser on Rhodia paper cleanly erased the Critérium, Gilbert, and Graphite 601 writing – and had problems with all others. I suppose the specific formulations made the difference.
A number of these pencils have distinct merits – the Gilbert as a quality round pencil made in several degrees – the Black’Peps for innovative design in a triangular shape, the 101 for value – but I had no trouble in deciding that the Conté à Paris Graphite 601 was the best in overall quality.