Pentel Black Polymer 999

In addition to Tombow and Mitsubishi, there are other quality Japanese pencil manufacturers. One of these is Pentel. Their top of the line pencil in the Black Polymer series is the 999 alpha. I’ve heard they are great, but have been unable to acquire any. (If you have some for sale, please let me know!) But, I did come across some of their still very fine 2nd rank pencil, the 999.

Distinguishing the two pencils is easy – the 999 alpha has the Greek alpha character in the pencil name, and the slogan “supreme quality for lines of highest density.” It has a glossy finish with the grade printed in black on a silver background. The regular 999 has the more modest slogan “the highest quality for general use”, and less use of silver. The finish is matte, and the top of the cap is painted silver.

Matte vs. glossy sounds like a photo finishing or interior wall paint choice. But it seems it’s also a pencil choice, and Pentel chose matte for the 999. It is very pleasant to hold, looks good, and is not too common in pencils. I have some Lyra pencils with a similar finish, and can’t think of any other manufacturers that have chosen this type of finish. The silver accents on black paint make it one of the most attractive on the market – up there with the Grip 2001 and Nava.

The box it comes in also looks nice for a cardboard box – there is something very adult and stylish about the presentation.

The pencils sharpen easily. The lead is not as rich as that of the other Japanese pencils mentioned here, but still nicer than average. It makes an excellent writing pencil, and goes very nicely with a black journal.

20 Replies to “Pentel Black Polymer 999”

  1. The name Polymer 999, and the fact its a Pentel pencil, implies the lead is a polmyer lead rather than the more usual ceramic lead. Any idea about this? Can you tell any difference in smoothness, etc when comparing to a ceramic lead pencil, particularly when they are a bit blunt?

  2. Thanks for the question. The box has several lines of text in Japanese – they might have some information about this. The smoothness seems equivalent to that of good pencils from Stabilo, Faber-Castell, or Caran d’Ache. I can’t really tell much difference. It is definitely both smoother and darker than a Berol Venus or a Mirado Black Warrior.

  3. Sir:

    First off, many and profound thanks for all the information and images you’ve posted about Japanese pencils. I’ve recently become a pen-to-pencil convert (I’m a free-lance journo) and have enjoyed more than is perhaps proper finding out about them and trying them.

    My question is: In the entry:

    the last image on the page shows four pencils, three of which I recognize. The other pencil, though—only “… a-Boshi HIT” is visible—is unfamiliar. Could you tell me something about it, please?

    Also, more thanks for your recent Pentel 999 entry. No one else I’ve found on the Web is as informative and forthcoming about these topics. At least, not in English that I’ve found. …

    Thanks again for your assistance, and consideration.

    Best regards,

    Charles Everitt

  4. Hello,
    Thanks for your many wonderful posts. I write with both pen & ink and pencil quite a bit every day, so finding a quality implement is quite important. For years now, I’ve used Mirado Black Warriors, #2.5F, and after reading your comments about the pentel (and others), I find that I’d like to try out a few other pencils (pentels, palominos, and a couple of others I have in mind) to see how I like using them. However, I’m not sure what lead I should use. For example, if I currently use 2.5F (I consistently break the leads on the 2HBs — I like the darker writing of the HBs, but if I can’t go for more than 2 seconds without breaking the lead . . . ), how do I find the right lead if (as in the case of the palominos) the pencils are listed as being 2B, B, HB, H, & 2H? I’m not sure how to correlate these with a 2.5F. However, I am willing to try other leads than the 2.5F so long as the point doesn’t easily break — and these pentel HBs have me intrigued. So, if you or anyone else has any words of advice in response to my queries, I’d appreciate reading them!

    Thanks in advance to any and all replies!


  5. Hi Charles,

    My apologies for the extended delay in replying.

    Thank you very much for your kind comments.

    The pencil you noticed is a Kita-Boshi HIT Draftsman. Unlike the other quality Japanese pencils I have written about, it is a round pencil with an unfinished cap.

    It carries the slogan “For Draftsmen, Designers, Copy-writers”. I only have a few in 4B, but if I can get some more in a writing grade, I will post something more.

    They appear to be a first rate pencil with a quality graphite core. I believe they a well known manufacturer in Japan, but are not exporting their products (at least with their own name) as extensively as other stationers.

  6. Brian
    Just a quick comment. “F” is the lead grade between “HB” and “H”. I don’t think you’ve got any choice but to experiment. There is no real standardisation of lead grades and hardness so one manufacturers HB is anothers… well, who knows what!
    The numbers thing is an American system. 1 is harder and lighter then 2, etc.
    Personally when it comes to sticks of wood, I am a Staedtler Mars Lumogragh person, and they have HB, F, H, and all the other letters you could possibly want to try.

  7. Hi Brian,

    2.5F is between an H lead (hard) and HB (hard/black–the “middle of the road,” also called #2). The “2.5” and the “F” are the same measure in two systems; one with numbers (more common in writing pencils in the U.S.) and the other with letters (usually seen on art pencils and outside the U.S.). So if you want a 2.5 equivalent, you would want the “F” designation. It’s a little unusual in the upscale pencils, so you might have to go up to H.

    I would also note that the Palominos, in my experience, run rather soft–their HB (#2) is equivalent to most manufacturer’s 2B (#0?). So for that you might want H or even 2H. You can always ask the nice folks at Palomino, though, they are very helpful.

  8. Sir:

    No woriies about the delay. And thanks for the information.

    As an aside, I’ve gotten some of the Mitsu Hi-Unis and Tombow Mono 100s through an eBay/Internet site located in Tokyo. I recently requested some of the Pentel 999 alphas, but, according to the source, the alphas are no longer in Pentel’s catalog. Would you be willing to let me know—privately, if you wish—through whom you were able to purchase your 999 alphas? It would be greatly appreciated.

    Again, thanks for your assistance.

    Best regards,

    Charles Everitt

  9. My apologies for delayed comment approval.

    Brian, I can only agree with kiwi-d and J B. If you’re near an art supply store, you can probably compare the grades of a few brands to see what you’re looking for.

    Charles, as I wrote, “(I) have been unable to acquire any” of the Pentel 999 alpha. I wish that wasn’t the case! But basic web searches find art blogs and such showing the pencil – so I do believe it is out there.

  10. Sir:

    You’re right. And if didn’t have the attention span (and brain capacity) of a sea cucumber, I would have remembered you wrote that, and not troubled you with the inane question.

    But—If I can place hands on any 999 alphas, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    Thanks for your patience.

    Best regards,


  11. Dear sir

    Can you offer me your best prices for it including the cartidge which is need for.?
    my best regards to you

  12. I think this pencil is the best pencil that i’ve used for 15 years.
    Or you can try Mars lumograph 100 of STAEDTLER company.

  13. Looks like the last stocks of these are almost gone. I’d been meaning to buy some more from, and until about a fortnight ago, they had 45 of the HB in stock. Now those are all gone, and I regret giving away four of the dozen that I bought some time back.

    There were some B and 2B left before the site closed for renovation, so it might not be too late to grab a few more of the last-remaining stocks.

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