Porsche Design P’3120 mechanical pencils

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The Porsche Design P’3120 series of writing instruments are machined from single blocks of aluminum. There are pencils and ballpoints in the series – no fountain pens or rollerballs. They are made by Faber-Castell, though press announcements indicate Pelikan is slated to take over manufacture of the Porsche writing implements. I’m curious if Pelikan can or will continue the current designs, or if there will be a new slate of products.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The first P’3120 was the aluminum version. Though expensive for a mechanical pencil, the sleek lines and unified look appealed to me, and I picked up the first of this set.

Two later versions in “anthracite” and “titanium” finishes changed the milled ring pattern to a tighter line.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The latest version is in black, part of the “Edition 1” series. It differs from predecessors in having Porsche markings on the body rather than the clip.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

I hope the photos speak to the appearance, and I’ll mention some other aspects:

The grip is formed by three scallops in the pencil. It does require keeping the pencil in place in one’s hand, rather than rotating.

The clip looks beautiful – yet the weight and length of the pencils don’t work well with shirt pockets, and the clip is too tight to work well with jacket pockets. It is what I would call a desk pencil.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The refilling of the 0.7mm lead is done via a Faber-Castell cartridge. As with most pencils I buy, I immediately replaced the manufacturer’s lead with the fantastic Pentel Ain lead.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The lead advance is achieved via twisting the cap (which is also the top half of the pencil). The P’3120 cartridge mechanism is one of the good ones – it works well, and there is very little lead breakage, though this is a heavy pencil and I suspect I write with what some might call a ‘heavy hand”.

There is a small “emergency only” eraser under the “cap”.

The pencil weight is 30g – not Yard-O-Led territory, but heavier than most mechanical pencils. Again, making this a desk pencil rather than a contender for the pocket.

Despite these great characteristics, in the end it is the overall aesthetics that won me over. The sleek, modern machined look is appealing. The pencil sits well in the hand, and functions well. I like each of the four versions, and use them all in rotation. I have not previously been drawn into the “get one of each” approach to buying writing instruments, but somehow was won over in this case.

As well, the machined aluminum resists scratching and day to day wear, quite unlike other writing implements I own. I think I would be content with a used version of one, which isn’t my typical approach.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

Overall, I like the P’3120, and wholeheartedly recommend it with the noted reservations.

Summer takes a toll

Regular blog readers may notice a certain slowing of the pace. Let me assure you that it isn’t a loss of interest! In fact, the blog’s fifth anniversary is only three months away, and there will be a celebration. Yet, for the time being, high temperatures are resulting in a necessary focus on just getting through the day.

It could be worse – news reports indicate the northeast US, Italy, Germany, and Russia have all been hit with even more serious heat waves.

It seems, even some of my personal favourite Faber-Castell Grip 2001 pencils have been affected:
Fraber-Castell Grip 2001

In some cases, the “dots” have expanded and merged:
Fraber-Castell Grip 2001

In the worst case, the “dots” broke open, leaving marks on both the paper and my hand!
Fraber-Castell Grip 2001

While I’ve mentioned this pencil’s great design many times over the years, this is my first practical problem.

It seems that even pencils can’t take this heat!

Staedtler 175th anniversary pencil set

2010 is Staedtler’s 175th anniversary! Unless of course we date the company back to the first known Staedtler pencil maker in Nürnberg, in which case the company is much older. In 1937, Staedtler released a 275th Anniversary pencil, which would date them to 1662, but they now claim origins in 1835.

Whatever the details, congratulations! People around the world love Staedtler – the brand represents an image of good quality products offered at fair prices. Not necessarily the cheapest, but guaranteed to work well.

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For this anniversary, Staedtler is offering an item that also commemorates the start of the railway between Nürnberg and Fürth. It is a cardboard tube with twelve Mars Lumograph pencils and a special eraser.

There are also versions for the Noris and tradition lines.

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The city coats of arms are shown. Am I the only one surprised by the clover used by Fürth? The Wikipedia article relates some of the history.

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Alas, the only actual new stationery item is this eraser. While it is fine enough, I guess that I would have hoped for a bit more from a company such as Staedtler. It is a 175th anniversary, after all!

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The real celebration seems to have been on the cultural front, with a wonderful exhibition described here at Lexikaliker.

My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for sending me this fine set of pencils!

Ohto 9000 pencil

OHTO 9000 pencil

Mitsubishi and Tombow sit atop the Japanese woodcase pencil manufacturing industry. Smaller manufacturers such as Kita-Boshi, Camel, Kirin, and Eyeball also have market segments. But there are also other companies who aren’t manufacturers per se, but have a pencil line. The most notable is Pentel, who have brought some great products to the market over the years. Pentel sadly seems to be leaving the market, with the Black Polymer 999 and Craft Design Technology pencils both withdrawn. (This report is due for revision.)

Sailor has also sold pencils in the past. And the California Republic Palomino is made in Japan. Checking Bundoki, Pencils.jp, and Rakuten shows many other makes and brands of pencils. A look at the Japanese pencil association website indicates many members are involved in the pencil manufacturing infrastructure, and not full manufacturers themselves. So presumably some combination of these firms supply the other sellers.

From Ohto, (Tokyo, Japan, founded in 1929) we have one more fascinating and super high quality pencil, the Ohto 9000. Ohto is known for fountain pens and mechanical pencils, and I only recently learned that they also have a line of woodcase pencils. The products are exceedingly hard to find. Stationery vendors and auction sites don’t seem to even have a whiff of them – I thought I would never see an example. As best as I can guess, Ohto commissions the manufacture of these pencils for limited export to Taiwan.

OHTO 9000 pencil

The pencils have simple matte finishes in black or brown. They are plainly marked:

Obverse:

Ohto Pencil Japan HB

Reverse:

For Retouching & Special Drawing 9000

The only issue I have with the pencil presentation is the labelling with a metallicized sticker at the end to be sharpened. The sticker is lightweight yet very strong. I am afraid it might “gum up” or degrade a desktop sharpener, either electric or manual. Yet removing the sticker leaves a sticky residue.

OHTO 9000 pencil

Sharpening reveals a beautiful cedar grain – truly exceptional.

OHTO 9000 pencil

The pencil leaves a rich, saturated, dark mark, really first-rate. On a Rhodia pad, the lines don’t easily smudge, yet erase easily with a Mitsubishi Boxy eraser.

There are a lot of good or “good enough” pencils out there, but it is really exciting to find one that is so exceptional. I compared it with the best in the business – the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and Tombow Mono 100. While the Ohto does not have the fancy finish or the precision lettering, the lead seems to belong in this category. In my testing of the HB grade, I thought that the Hi-Uni was perhaps smoother and waxier, while the Mono 100 had the most precision and and ability to keep a point. The Ohto seemed somewhere in the middle, which is very good company. I haven’t tested other grades, nor used it over an extended period of time.

OHTO 9000 pencil

I hope Ohto might consider further export. The limited distribution unfortunately means this excellent pencil will not be known in most parts of the world.

Some further notes: A box of twelve includes six in brown and six in black.

OHTO 9000 pencil
OHTO 9000 pencil

A very attractive shiny black tin with a set of grades is also available:

OHTO 9000 pencil
OHTO 9000 pencil

A few other notes. The boxes and a few loose pencils (presumably older) have the JIS mark. And one has the initials “K.B.P.” imprinted. Which brings me to some speculation – the cardboard box strongly resembles that of the Kita-Boshi 9606 pencil. The painted caps and matte finish also resemble Kita-Boshi’s work. I would guess that Ohto contracted Kita-Boshi as the manufacturer.

My sincere thanks to blog reader and pencil aficionado Robert for sending me these pencils. Robert contacted me and asked if I would like to try an Ohto pencil. Little did I know that such a treasure trove of great pencils was headed my way!

The H. A. (Hirohachi Akagi) Faber Fortress pencil

Cyclingpencils blog: Japanese pencils and their history

For some amazing pencil history, please see the cyclingpencils blog. Written in Japanese with photo titles and partial text in English, the last two posts tell a story about a pencil that may look familiar at first glance – the H. A. Faber “Fortress”. But H. A. Faber isn’t a distant member of the Faber pencil manufacturing family, and the “Fortress” is not a “Castell”, even if similar fonts and logos are used.

It turns out the brands came from Hirohachi Akagi & Co., founder of the Colleeen pencil company. There is also a “Moon Glove”, with moon and globe logo, very similar to the Staedtler logo.

Mitsubishi Jumbo-uni pencil

A special variant of the famous Mitsubishi Uni pencil.

Mitsubishi Jumbo-Uni pencil

The Jumbo-uni is 25cm long and 1cm in diameter!

Mitsubishi Jumbo-Uni pencil

The appearance and markings are generally the same as the regular Uni. Some text is different:

Mitsubishi Jumbo-Uni pencil

It really is Jumbo:
Mitsubishi Jumbo-Uni pencil

Uni pencils mention the company establishment in 1887. “85th anniversary” suggests 1887 + 85 = 1972. Is this pencil really 38 years old? Well done, Mitsubishi Pencil Co.

Mitsubishi Jumbo-Uni pencil