From Koh-I-Noor we have the Toison D’Or 5900 and 5608 2.0mm leadholders. In an accompanying role are Koh-I-Noor colour leads.
The 5900 is a leadholder which seems to be modelled on the Toison d’Or woodcase pencil. The weight and hardness of the body suggest metal composition, but I could be wrong.
It has a clip stamped “Koh-I-Noor”. The clip edges are rough to the touch, and appear very cheap.
The cap unscrews and revels four extended blades which form a sharpener. Clever, it works, though not as well as a standard format sharpener.
The 5608 (top photo) is something new. Sleek and svelte, it is really a 2.0mm mechanical pencil in a very portable format. The Toison d’Or’s awkward stamping is replaced with a retro rendering of the Koh-I-Noor name. Nice!
It also has a cap with a four-blade sharpener. Unfortunately, there is a problem. The 5608’s sharpener can’t sharpen the pencil’s lead since the pencil lacks the ability to grip the lead during sharpening – the lead just spins and spins around. Other blog posts have noted that this problem is shared with other large diameter lead mechanical pencils. This also prohibits the lead from being sharpener with other sharpeners while the lead remains in the pencil.
Colour lead in wide lead sizes (2.0, 3.15, and 5.6 mm diameters) can be a great joy – easy to use, and allowing great control. Unfortunately, it can also be hard to find and expensive.
Koh-I-Noor’s leads were a delight to discover, due to the range of colours and the richness of the lines.
For a few days, I thought I had discovered an exceptional stationery item.
Sample marks on both a toothy artist paper from Canson, and a Marumann notebook:
Then something happened. A lead snapped, jamming the containing leadholder. While I’m not an expert, I know this is very odd – leadholders have very simple mechanisms – they are essentially a “clutch” surrounding a tube for the lead – and they don’t jam. Then another leadholder jammed. Something was very odd about this lead.
I thought the 5608 might be a great document review pencil with a blue lead – but to my frustration, the lead wouldn’t go in the pencil. That was the clue and the answer – this wasn’t really 2.0mm lead!
I took out the micrometer, and a few samples of Koh-I-Noor lead averaged 2.13mm in diameter. For a reference, I tried measuring a Mitsubishi Uni lead sample – that was 2.01mm.
The Koh-I-Noor lead is significantly off specification! It won’t fit even in the manufacturer’s own pencil – nor can the lead fit in standard KUM/Staedtler/Faber-Castell lead sharpeners (I have tried). It further creates complications in standard 2.0mm leadholders.
Though the colours are nice, I am very disappointed with this offering. Koh-I-Noor is a mainstay of drafting, drawing, and writing supplies that I admire, but it looks like the design department got the whole budget for these products, while engineering was neglected.