For me, red and blue pencils are special. They are practical and hardworking, yet fanciful and a specialty product. I love having one on my desk, and I’ve loved sampling the many varieties that exist. But they’re not an eveyday pencil for many.
Even less common (and “common” is relative – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red and blue pencil for sale at a non-specialty store) are other formulations of mixed-core writing/office pencils. Fifteen years ago, this blog took a look at the Tombow LV-KEV, still an outstanding pencil. I thought that was about it for this type of pencil, but a great post at Lexikaliker reminds us that there have been a few. Still, they are few in number – vintage, a few made for the Turkish and Mexican markets – and the more recent Caran d’Ache Graphicolor and the CW Pencil Enterprise “The Editor”. A very interesting comment at Lexikaliker suggests the red in The Editor is water soluble – I will have to test that if I locate one.
Today, we’ll take a look at the Dixon Duo, a pencil from the Fila conglomerate produced by Dixon Mexico for the Mexican market. Called a “lápiz entrenador” (training pencil), it is aimed at children, though in my mind it seems like a very adult writing implement.
A rounded triangular shape, it sports a 3.3mm core. Sharpening with a handheld Möbius+Ruppert was simple.
So here is what I wasn’t expecting – both ends write well. The red is vibrant and the graphite is pleasingly smooth.
Official product listing: Dixon Mexico
Two years ago, I noticed that a very interesting handmade pencil was listed for sale at the now closed CW Pencil Enterprise. CWPE was sold out of the product, but I quickly discovered the manufacturer Numen Design and an interesting retailer named Apuntes.
I was able to acquire some Numen pencils, and a photo posted at the pencil talk Instagram account remains popular:
A visit to Apuntes was naturally at the top of my list for a visit to the City of Mexico last month. Apuentes is in the Roma Norte neighborhood. Roma, like Polanco and Condesa, is a very trendy and highly walkable neigborhood in Mexico City. The altitude (2240m) will be a consideration for some. Apuntes is on a narrow side street near the Estela de Luz monument, an impossibly thin soaring tribute to Mexican independence.
The front window makes a nice impression.
The compact interior displays many interesting products, but it is not a generic stationery store! Perhaps matched only by the shops on Paris’s Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe, everything is made by Apuntes, with many products both designed and manufactured within the City of Mexico! It is truly a special store.
I bought two A5 notebooks, two A4 pads of paper, two “half A4” pads of paper for lists, and some interesting paperclips, stickers, and pencils. The paper products were made in the City of Mexico.
An absolute must visit for the stationery aficionado!
Goods for the Study is a stationery store in New York City. Their website tells me they have two locations. I visited the “West Village” shop at 50 West 8th Street in late 2022.
The neighbourhood is really interesting. It’s close to Washington Square Park. There are pop-up art galleries on West 8th, and I found a cheerful Venezuelan restaurant across the street.
(Apologies to the random guy)
Almost every specialty stationer that I’ve seen tends to be a small boutique, and they are often empty. Not so with Goods for the Study! This store was packed, even with a long line to the cash register. It has an impressive depth of paper products and writing implements. Rollbahn for example – they seemed to stock every colour and every size, a big contrast from boutique stationers.
Today is the 17th anniversary of pencil talk.
Just a very short note. Staedtler has announced pencils made from “upcycled wood”. Upcycled wood is defined as “wood chips produced in the wood processing industry.”
The upcycled family includes the colour Noris 185 and 187, digital stylus pencils, and the graphite Staedtler Neon 180 and Noris 183.
These pencils (at least the 180 and 183) were previously known to use WOPEX. Perhaps this is a rebrand?
Please allow me to call attention to the essay The Golden Age of Japanese Pencils, 1952-1967, published by St. Louis Art Supply.
I’ve not previously been aware of this art supply company. I learned of the essay via a post at the Reddit pencil forum.
The conclusions are very interesting to me. Are the Tombow Mono 100 and the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni the greatest pencils the world will ever see? (And I’ll mention that the Mono 100 is no longer made in Japan.) Very possibly. Super high quality OEM pencils such as those from Pentel were on the market only briefly. And as the article notes, we haven’t seen the “Hi-Hi-Uni”.
But let’s note something else – the pencil market is likely still growing at a global level, due to population growth and increased educational opportunities. There are $10 (even $20) woodcase pencils that can be bought today from Musgrave (USA) , Faber-Castell (Germany), and Caran d’Ache (Switzerland). These expensive pencils are more in the collectible/luxury segment, but why wouldn’t it be possible to try a new super-high quality pencil?