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Moleskine pencil

Moleskine has slowly been unveiling a new collection from designer Giulio Iachetti. Included in the collection is a pencil!

Moleskine pencil

The pencils I obtained came in cardboard and plastic packaging. There was no simple way to open the package that I could determine, so I used kitchen scissors.

Moleskine pencil

The set includes two pencils, a sharpener, a clip, and a set of stickers.

Moleskine pencil

The pencils are very handsome, finished in matte black, including a finished rounded cap. The shape is not what I was expecting – the 13cm long pencils have a rectangular carpenter pencil format, though the lead is a standard cylindrical shape.

The packaging indicates the pencils are from the Czech Republic, the wood cedar (which should be clear from the photos) and the lead a 2B grade.

Moleskine pencil

The markings are a subtle black on black. “Moleskine” on the narrow side:

Moleskine pencil

And the grade on the wide side:

Moleskine pencil

An impressive product. I was recently speculating with an online friend that interesting new pencils are going to start coming from third parties and virtual brands, rather than the manufacturers. And the Moleskine seemed like a perfect example.

There is just one problem – with the smooth finish and rectangular shape, I couldn’t get a proper hold on the pencil. I tried various grip formations without success. Perhaps it takes some getting used to, but without forming an uncomfortable vice grip, I just couldn’t find a way of grasping the pencil for writing.

This was unfortunate, as the pencil has a great appearance and the lead seems to be high quality.

Unsatisfactory (to me) broken letter formations when my hand lost grip on the pencil:

Moleskine pencil

The sharpener is quite different. Do you see what I mean? You may want to compare with a standard sharpener:

Moleskine pencil

The blade is flush with the top of the sharpener, so the pencil will have to be inserted at an angle. Different, though I’m not sure about the impact on usability. The pencil set was sufficiently expensive that I didn’t want to sharpen the pencils just to test how they sharpen.

Moleskine pencil

The cap is interesting. It grips the pencil with a friction fit, and has an interior plastic piece to ensure point protection. The cap is surrounded by a rubberized metal clip.

Moleskine pencil

To me, it looks great, but official photos show the pencil being clipped to the side of a Moleskine, rather than the top.

Moleskine pencil

It is great to see the introduction of a compelling pencil set with really sharp looks, but I am torn about the usability question. I am curious about what others think – have you tried the Moleskine pencil?

24 comments to Moleskine pencil

  • Looks like a nice collection piece though not particularly functional.

  • logan

    Those caps would be great if they fit the flat sketching pencils I use, but they probably won’t sell them separately.

  • Adair

    I find these grossly over-priced, especially as you cannot just buy the pencils, only the set.

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  • Great macro photos. Thanks for this review.
    I know of only two pencil factories in the Czech republic, one in Poli?ka
    and one in ?eský Krumlov (both in Bohemia). I wonder where these pencils are made. My guess would be Poli?ka.

  • Thanks for the review and the great photos!

    I haven’t tried that pencil since I steer clear off Moleskin products – to me only their marketing is something special (albeit not in a positive sense). Besides that, there are better and cheaper notebooks (e. g. those from Leuchtturm 1917).

    The first time I have seen these pencils online I wondered about their usabilty, and your review confirms my reservations. As Adair has already mentioned they are over-priced, so to me they are nothing but a futile attempt to expand their product range. Sorry for being so grumpy ;-)

  • Brian

    That’s a handsome pencil, but the pricing is a little steep for me. Could you expound upon your comment regarding virtual brands? Would California Republic be an example, as their pencils are manufactured by someone else?

  • Brian, yes, I mean the Moleskine pencil, Blackwing pencil, Rhodia pencil, Ito-ya pencil, etc. All well promoted pencils that don’t hail from traditional pencil manufacturers.

  • Wow! This is an interesting product. The design sure does go with the Moleskine, but then again, I just use a Palomino Blackwing or a black Ticonderoga with it, and the style is fine.

    So, according to your picture, it looks like the set came with some little stickers, perhaps that are the same size as the pencil’s diameter? Do you know what they’re for?

  • Joan

    IMHO

    Moleskine is all about a functional notebooks. I use lots of them (Hey, I’m taking a look to the Leuchtturm 1917 right now).
    These pencils, although, are not a useful practical tool, regarding the main review, so then, for me they’re just useless.
    I already have my set of favourite sharpeners, and 2B is not the best pencil to use in a moleskine paper (again IMHO).
    Grip is another important issue. If Staedtler, Faber, Caran d’Ache, Conté a Paris, Koh-i-noor, etc, etc ,etc of good pencil makers says a pencil for writing/drawing is hexagonal (or rounded) why is people trying to build triangular or rectangular section shape pencils? I want high quality pencils, not the reinvention of the wheel.

  • Meh. Trust Moleskine to produce a pencil whose form trumps its function. I was quite excited for a moment to see they have selected 2B as the grade, but then disappointed to read that the shape is impractical. Clearly it is meant to be seen, not used.

  • Robert M.

    There are those who like the carpenter pencil format, but when you see that the design is intended to remain consistent with the other writing tools (and the pencils cannot be purchased in any quantity apart from the kit, as adair pointed out), it’s apparent that Moleskine cared less about usability and more about a unified, distinctive product image that they could market.

    At least they didn’t put “the pencil of Van Gogh” on the package.

    Joan: There are benefits to triangular pencils and carpenter pencils for some users, though obviously not everyone likes them. Staedtler’s premium Mars line includes the Mars Ergosoft, which is triangular (there’s even a jumbo 2B version). The Mitsubishi Uni Penmanship pencils are some of the best soft (4B/6B) pencils you can buy are offered in both hexagonal and triangular forms. Carpenter pencils are a bit more specialized, though they do find some fans in the sketching world (though generally in that is partially due to the rectangular lead in most carpenter pencils). I do not think Moleskine set out to adopt carpenter pencils for any reason other than to match the other flat-profile writing tools they sell.

  • Robert M., if Moleskin read this they may get silly ideas ;-) I don’t mean to bash Moleskin but there are notebooks with a better value for money sans and without such a marketing nonsense. – It is a pity that the pencil and the cap which both seem to be of good quality don’t have the classic shape.

    Does the sharpener bear any markings that allow the identification of the manufacturer?

  • Gunther, the official product page mentions that the blade is from Germany. Curiously, the sharpener body is stamped “Made in China”. I don’t see any indications (text or logos) of the manufacturer.

  • Adair

    I have also seen the whole line of bags and other accessories—even reading glasses!—that Moleskine has put out recently. Robert M. is right—they aim to create a unified product image. The bags are of unbelievably shoddy construction and start at around $140. I wish they would just stick to notebooks and to improving their paper quality. I wonder if this new product expansion will not backfire. As for the pencils, when you calculate, it comes to about $8 per pencil. Can they be worth it? The other most expensive new pencils I know of are from Graf von Faber-Castell, the Perfect Pencil, and they come out to about $5 per pencil, yet are of extremely high quality, with threads for an eraser cap. The Palomino Blackwing is a steal in comparison at about $2 per pencil…Moleskine should have just made a deal with Cal Cedar to create a Moleskine Blackwing. The PBs actually match the notebooks fine, and you’d get more pencil for your money, not to mention a cool eraser.

  • Stephen, thank you for that detail – I wouldn’t be surprised if the sharpener was from Eisen because they are a large OEM and their China-made sharpeners have German blades.

  • “At least they didn’t put ‘the pencil of Van Gogh’ on the package.”

    This almost made me fall out of my chair. You’re right about that! Personally, this new stuff and the reiteration that Moleskine is a brand and not a notebook put the last nail in the coffin for me. And I used those things all through grad school and VISTA work (8 danged years!)

    :-)

  • But didn’t Vincent actually use carpenters’ pencils? So they could yet use the the ‘pencil of Van Gogh’ strapline (that made me laugh, too). You’re better off with a Rexel, though. (Cheaper, too.)

  • Cenk

    I was going to buy one of these in Frankfurt couple of weeks ago but was unsure about the grip as well. Looks great but may be tiring if you use pencils more than just taking short notes. Great collector item but nothing more than that

  • Great pencil review. I look forward to trying them out.

    I wrote a review of the Moleskine rollerball, which can be found here:
    http://luisborba.squarespace.com/home/2011/5/26/moleskine-rollerball-pen-review.html

  • Colin Charles

    There is a saying in UK … ‘You’re having a laugh’ … when something stupid is said. That was my immediate thought when I saw the price of this rubbish. But then, maybe the same could have been said of Moleskine books in their early days? In our local cheapo store I can buy three carpenter pencils for £1 although they are red rather than black. Thinking of buying their entire stock, rebranding them and charging £12 a time. Another saying, …’there’s a fool born every minute’.
    However, I DO agree that Leuchtturm are better than Moleskine and guess what, Monsieur are even better value than Leuchtturm.

  • Big Jim Carstairs

    I don’t use their regular notebooks but the middle and large size moleskin watercolor pads are superb. Also the really tiny thin cheap moleskin notebooks that come in packs of three and fit flatly in a back jeans pocket are very useful and inobstrusive.

    Judging from your photos that pencil and sharpener look much the same as a cool death star version of a carpenter’s pencil and carpenter’s sharpener.
    I love to use carpenter’s pencils for drawing. A downside is it’s hard to cap them and put them in your pocket. The cap on the moleskin pencil would for me totally justify the purchase.

    I’ve never seen Leuchtturm and will check them out. I bought a couple of beautiful ‘regular’ moleskin-esque notebooks yesterday which were made by a company called Typo http://typoshop.com.au/ (I’m in Australia)
    The pages are nicely lined and the cover is a lovely soft leather. They sell at 4.95

  • minty95

    The pencil clips nicely to the side of the moleskine notebooks, and its the same size as their pocket model, the sharpener works well, for me the lead is to soft for good writing so Imve just order but not yet recieved their pen, which is the same size with the same side clip

  • Stephan

    Hey, so anybody tested the sharpener by now? I am wondering if it works well.

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