Faber-Castell Castell 9000 pencil

Faber-Castell Castell 9000 pencil

The Castell 9000 is a famous and iconic pencil. A flagship product of Faber-Castell, the world’s largest pencil company, the 9000 has over a century of history as an important working tool of writers, artists and engineers.

The dark rich green (“forest green”) has varied in shade over the years, but the current version is excellent. It makes for a very handsome pencil. It seems similar to the palette used by both Mazda and Land Rover in the automotive field.

Most 9000 pencils are sold sharpened, without eraser. (There is a variant with eraser.) There is a wide range of hardnesses offered, but today we’ll restrict ourselves to the HB version.

Following the methods mentioned in the Staedtler Mars Lumograph post, I weighed several pencils. The range was 3.6 to 4.1 grams, with the mean 3.9 grams. So it may be a sliver heavier than the Lumograph, our reference pencil. The length is the standard 175mm. The distance between opposite sides in 7.3mm, making it slightly narrower than the Lumograph. Being thinner yet heavier than the Lumograph is presumably due to the wood.

There is only one noticeable physical difference – the hexagonal edges are slightly less rounded on the Castell 9000 than on the Lumograph. I like this, and think it may slightly improve the grip.

Let’s introduce some terminology to describe the six sides of a hexagonal pencil. We’ve already used the ‘obverse’ and ‘reverse’ terms (borrowed from the numismatic field) in previous reviews.

Side 1: The pencil’s obverse – the pencil’s main markings – usually the manufacturer and model names.
Side 2: The next side, viewed clockwise, from the perspective of the pencil’s cap.
Side 3: Again, the next side of the pencil.
Side 4: The pencil’s reverse, opposite the obverse – often the location of a bar code or secondary information. (e.g. The full model number rather than just the marketing name.)
Side 5: Again, the next side of the pencil.
Side 6: Again, the next side of the pencil.

So with this terminology, the pencil is marked (in gold colouring):

Side 1 (Obverse): Castell 9000 Faber-Castell HB
Side 2: blank
Side 3: 4 005401 190004 [bar code] HB
Side 4 (Reverse): blank
Side 5: Water-based varnish Wasserlack SV Made in Germany www.Faber-Castell.com HB
Side 6: blank

Faber-Castell Castell 9000 pencil

I like pencils with clean looks – and this is just too much writing – three different sides of the pencil, each half covered with text.

It’s a great writer. Side-by-side with the Lumograph, the Castell 9000 is just a touch harder and lighter. The point seems unusually good at staying sharp. In B, right up to 4B, the pencil becomes buttery smooth.

I’d like to be able to better describe a pencil’s marking capabilities, but this is a challenging problem for which I haven’t found a satisfactory solution – the pressure used, the angle of application, the shape of the lead prior to use, and the paper are all important contributing variables. Paper can be standardized, but the other factors probably require special equipment to reproduce. I presume pencil companies have this type of equipment (a pencil gripping robot?) for their testing.

Perhaps the best endorsement is the century of commercial success experienced by the Castell 9000.

If you’ve somehow avoided this pencil – pick up a few to try. I doubt you will be disappointed.

Some additional reading:

November 2005 post at pencil talk

Faber-Castell pages on the Castell 9000

Leadholder.com page on these pencils, including links to historic catalogs. An excellent source if you’re seeking to date a particular pencil or learn more.

Michael Leddy’s essay on the 9000.

Faber-Castell 1111 pencil

Faber-Castell 1111 pencil
This is the final pencil in this August series on the pencils of Australia and New Zealand. Thanks again to Dave for sending me these pencils.

The Faber-Castell 1111 is an uncapped hexagonal pencil in matte black, simply marked:

SV 1111 21/2=HB Faber-Castell

It definitely looks nice in all black with minimal markings.

Faber-Castell 1111 pencil

As a pencil, it’s like others in this series – not bad, but not exceptional. The lead is slightly scratchy, but on the plus side seems to hold a point unusually well. After a page of writing, it seems just as sharp.

Faber-Castell Goldfaber 1222 pencil

Faber-Castell Goldfaber 1222 pencil
The Goldfaber brand is definitely marketed in North America – but it’s more known as a student or craft line of pencils. I’m not sure if one can actually buy this specific pencil here – I’ve certainly never seen one in person.

The 1222 is a real sleeper in the New Zealand/Australia series.

The only branded pencil in the series with an eraser, it is a sleek alternating Royal Blue/Silver combination, with gold and white stamping. It has a silver coloured ferrule with a white eraser. No country of manufacture is indicated.

It certainly has a finished appearance. Unlike other pencils in the series, whose colour schemes may be equal or superior as palatte choices, the 1222 is unique in having a high quality varnished finish, absolutely smooth and bright.

For what I suspected was a B-line pencil, the lead is good – not nearly as nice as the 110 – but still rich and dark.

The eraser, though white, is rough, not a smooth vinyl, and a disappointment.

Browsing around various national Faber-Castell sites, it seems the pencil may originate in Indonesia, though it is cedar rather than jelutong.
Faber-Castell Goldfaber 1222 pencil
It is a very interesting pencil, and I am glad to have a couple of them.

Graf von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi, also known as one mighty fine eraser.

Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
There are erasers, and then there are erasers. Once again, the Graf von Faber-Castell line exceeds expectations. An elegant white vinyl eraser with ribbing that matches their pencil line (and sharpeners), the eraser looks good as is. With a silver-plate cover, it becomes a must have object for pencil lovers.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
The eraser is in the typical shape – a three dimensional parallelogram. (Those with recollections of high school geometry can assist me if there is a more precise name.) The ribbing is lengthwise, and it’s a nice weight for such an object. With the cover (which looks engravable), it becomes even nicer.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
I’ve been using some soft lead vintage pencils this weekend, and this eraser removes even very dark lines with aplomb. The residue is unusually fine, which may not be ideal depending on the circumstance in which it is used.
Graf Von Faber-Castell Ersatzradiergummi
Overall, it’s a functional, creative and elegant rendition of a stationery staple.

Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Pencil

Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Pencil
Following the immense success of the fantastic Grip 2001 pencil, Faber-Castell extended the line with erasers, sharpeners, colour pencils, mechanical pencils, and this, an oversize pencil.

Marketed as being easy to grip, and useful for children learning to write, both the pencil and the lead core of the Jumbo grip are oversize. Unlike the Grip 2001, the cap is unfinished, and the pencil has a reserved place to write one’s name. While the colour scheme is the same as the 2001, the dots are raised much less, the paint seems much thinner, and is more matte than glossy.

Faber-Castell Jumbo Grip Pencil

I found it a little bit awkward to use. It may just be that I’m not generally using oversize triangular pencils.

It’s also noticeably not the calibre of finish that the original Grip has. This is quite disappointing, as these are sold at a high price point.

The lead is visibly different (lighter) than that of the original, and perhaps a tad less smooth.

Overall, it seems like Faber-Castell made a derivative knock-off of their own high end product.

Faber-Castell Aluminum Perfect Pencil line extended with black + silver pencils.

Silver paint perfect pencil.

Faber-Castell has introduced a silver and black extension to their Aluminum Perfect Pencil.

The Perfect Pencil line is a series of pencil extenders that serve as stylish point protectors, and feature clips and built-in sharpeners. Higher end models in sterling silver, stainless steel, and white gold rank with fine fountain pens as luxury writing implements. The Aluminum variant is above the low-end plastic version, and below the precious metal versions in the lineup.

Silver paint perfect pencil.

The new pencil is in a sleek silver paint with black dyed wood, black ferrule, and black eraser. This perfectly matches the aluminum of the cap. It is a very nice looking pencil, on par with the Design pencil or offerings from Nava. It gets noticed, while also being a first rate pencil.