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The Tombow Pencil Company’s 100th Anniversary (and Pencil)

Tombow Pencil Company's 100th Anniversary Pencil - Mono 100 Limited Edition

Congratulations to Tombow, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2013. The company has a special site with many photos to commemorate the anniversary.

As part of the celebration, Tombow has issued a recreation of a vintage pencil, complete with packaging. The pencil is internally a Mono 100, possibly the world’s finest pencil, so there was no skimping on quality. In Japan, the product sells for about $15. Alas, the price in other countries reflects several additional costs. (As an aside – the top Japanese pencils are reasonably priced inside Japan. If only they had better global distribution channels!)

I initially balked at the price I first saw for this anniversary pencil, but read that only 100 boxes were made, so it really is a limited edition. Fueled by a love for Tombow’s pencils, I decided to indulge. (I’ve since seen that Tombow USA sells the set for $15 – I wish I had known.)

There is an outer sleeve with a graphite rendering (in progress) of the pencil box’s design. I think this is one of the best parts of the recreation:

Tombow Pencil Company's 100th Anniversary Pencil - Mono 100 Limited Edition

The metal box:

Tombow Pencil Company's 100th Anniversary Pencil - Mono 100 Limited Edition

Inserts, etc. all reproduced:

Tombow Pencil Company's 100th Anniversary Pencil - Mono 100 Limited Edition

The product is great – a tribute to the past while using modern production techniques. I am grateful that Tombow took the effort to create something for themselves and us – the citizens of pencil nation. (I cannot imagine that there is any financial return for such a small run of a specialty product like this.)

I am also pondering the number – 100 sets for 100 years? Or is 100 the realistic number of people who will purchase something like this? Or is a distributor who acquired 100 sets making an exaggerated claim? This blog has advocated for historical pencil recreations for years, and it was a disappointment that a major pencil company anniversary a couple of years ago didn’t give a nod to the past. But maybe they knew something?

And a note – despite what I’ve read from Tombow, this thing called the web informs me that a set in grade 4B has been issued in some Asian countries.

20 comments to The Tombow Pencil Company’s 100th Anniversary (and Pencil)

  • Looks like a beautiful set, and kinda reminds me a bit of the limited Staedtler pencil-making kit from a while back for some reason.

  • $15? Here it’s nearly $50!
    It’s beautiful, though..

  • This is a beautiful set! I especially like the draft on the outer sleeve. – To me, 100 sounds a little too small but I haven’t found any details about it yet. – By the way, does your set also contains a transparent folded leaflet with a text starting with “With thanks to you …”?

  • Vikram, Matthias, Gunther – I agree, it is a beautiful set!

    Gunther, 100 also sounds small to me, but a page at Tombow Europe states, “The Tombow Pencil Revival Edition will be sold in small but exquisite batch of 100 units.” (sic) They also have a small graphic to emphasize this:

    The 2013 PDF Tombow catalogue makes a similar statement.

    And yes, the box does have a small leaflet (Japanese and English):

  • I’m only venturing a guess, but since that site isn’t a retail front-end (it seems to cater toward distributors), could it be that resellers are limited to 100 pieces each?

    Else with so small a run you’d think they might number them. By hand. :)

  • Hopefully this image will show—it’s taken from the Tombow site:

    This might explain the limit of 100 pieces.

  • I guess that didn’t work. Here’s the URL for that file:

    http://blackwingpages.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/tombow.jpg

  • If I was cheeky I’d point out that according to the Tombow web site the Revival edition is limited to 100 – but the version in the metal box is the “Reviaval” edition.

    $15 seems to be too cheap if there are only 100. Maybe “The Tombow Pencil Revival Edition will be sold in small but exquisite batch of 100 units” should be read as “…will be sold in A small but exquisite batch of 100 units” but rather as “…will be sold in small but exquisite batchES of 100 units”.

  • Hi Matthias, that page does seem to contain a few spelling and grammatical errors.

    The pencil was also a part of a cardboard box of 6 in the Tombow Perfect Book (along with an eraser and a mechanical pencil). And there are also retail displays for the box of twelve.

    And this blog in Korea shows a 4B version.

    I would love to learn more.

  • I have just phoned Tombow Germany and learned that there was a quota of 1000 boxes for Europe; however, the employee didn’t know the total number of boxes produced.

  • Gunther, thank you for that detail.

  • Pisces6

    I love metal pencil boxes even if they tend to dent easily. The outer sleeve is indeed beautiful. :o

    … Now I kinda want a set even if I really shouldn’t buy more pencils. >_>;

  • adair

    Pisces6 I shouldn’t buy more pencils either but I did indulge via Tombow USA. The set is indeed lovely and not too prohibitive at $15. Although I haven’t dared yet to sharpen any of the pencils, they look exquisite and do not have barcodes, which lately ruin the look of so many otherwise wonderful Japanese (and German) pencils. I do recommend this set for any lover of pencils. Penciltalk is back and starting to make me spend money again!

  • TonyB

    I also shouldn’t being any more pencils but I did. I bought several of them one for myself and two as Christmas gifts for my nieces. They are a joy to hold and appreciate, and yes no barcodes. I thought that I was the only one that hated those barcodes. These are my only green pencils, they are superb in their basic lines and design, nothing fancy just a great pencil.

  • […] marked their 100-year anniversary by issuing commemorative editions of their products such as this pencil set, as well as a beautiful book: The 100 Year History of Tombow […]

  • Thank you so much for this informative post. Just got my two commemorative tins directly from the Tombow USA with free shipping to boot. The shape of the tin and internal paper sleeves remind me of the Faber Castell 9000 vintage packaging from the early XX century.

  • Elena

    I doubt these 100th anniversary pencils are internally Mono 100,as stated above: their softness/blackness doesnt match Mono 100 HB but is closer to Mono 100 B, yet they dont hold their point as nicely as Mono 100 B. Having gotten used to Mono 100, the quality of these feels inferior.
    Nice tin though, and I guess the price would have been too high with real Mono 100!

  • Tim

    I just starting collecting pencils, so I don’t fee guilty about buying more! :) Thanks for showing this. I ordered from Tombow USA.

  • pkein

    Purchased from the Tombow usa site, it is billed as a ‘8900 CENTENNIAL PENCIL SET’ – given the pricing, this makes more sense than thinking its a MONO 100 for many reasons.

  • Barry

    Show us the photo of the pencil?

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