Seven previous posts at this website have mentioned the potential interaction between pencils and humidity. The Staedtler 190T and Tajima carpenter’s pencil have specifically claimed to address certain humidity concerns.
With help from the Wayback Machine, we have some specifics courtesy of a brief article in the 2003 Pentel Library. (The page loads slowly.) Pentel suggests that a 2B lead in humid Okinawa performs like an HB lead elsewhere! The idea is that paper becomes softer in high humidity, with the lead adhering less to the paper. A 2B lead in humidity is thus needed to make a mark similar to an HB mark in an arid environment.
The 2021 Recording Academy Grammy Awards noted the loss of Sean Malone. It is a long list for a tough year – Sean’s name is at the 4:45 mark.
National Public Radio also noted Sean’s passing:Sean Malone
Longtime bassist for metal band Cynic, as well as a professor of music theory
April 12, 1970 — Dec. 9, 2020
Years ago, this blog featured occasional posts with pencil news. I know of a few current events and links that I would like to mention.
The founders of Moon Pencil have repurchased the company. The company was sold to toy company MegaBloks, then Mattel. Back in the Rosen family, I hope the owners will consider emphasizing some of their own label pencils, similar to General and Musgrave. The press release notes that they are “America’s largest pencil factory.” pencil talk looked at their product line in 2011.
Known for a very innovative product line, one of Japan’s smaller pencil producers has gone out of business. Following the death of the chairperson, no path forward was found and the company dissolved.
Vodka Soaked Pencils
From the Austrian design school FH Joanneum, we have a 200 page book on red and blue pencils. It is conceptual and exploratory from a design and artistic perspective.
Aztec Scoremaster 101 Pencil
This post at the blog of composer Gavin Bryars is a remarkable companion to the 2017 Contrapuntalism post on the Alpheus Music Writer and the 2020 Blackwing Pages post on Judy Green Music. It is a great read.
This post follows in the tradition of The Treasury Tag at Bleistift, a post which discussed a specialty stationery item.
The Princes of Paperwork (sorry, there may be a paywall) at The Economist discussed the Notary profession – in some European countries, notaries are embedded in the real estate process and earn a small percentage of the sale price for notarizing the sale documents. Being a notary in such an environment thus pays quite well. There is also – the stationery! In Germany, notarizing a document involves binding the document with string and sealing it with red wax. It even gets better – each German state has their own colour pattern for their string.
A Public Domain image showing the Bavarian version of the string with a notarial seal (but no red wax).
To my surprise, Montréal stationer Papeterie Nota Bene sells this string! (This blog visited Nota Bene in 2013.)
The colour coding (Blue and White for Bavaria, Green and White for Saxony, etc.) scheme can be found in the PDF catalogue of the 102 year old manufacturer Willy Heckmann GmbH & Co. (My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for locating that catalogue.)
It can of course be used as office/household string. I think the colour combinations are nice. A long running German-English legal translation blog suggested in 2003 that translators may also be users of notarial string. An image search also shows quite a bit of historical use, particularly the red and white string.
A remarkable aspect of the pencil industry is the longevity of the manufacturers. In a selective sample of 23 of the largest and best known manufacturers, nine are less than a century old, ten are between one and two centuries old, and four claim over two centuries of existence!
To be clear, here we are accepting general statements from company websites. We know that Dixon didn’t make pencils on day one, that Dixon and Lyra are no longer independent, and that Koh-I-Noor has a discontinuous history that doesn’t cleanly trace back to Hardmuth in 1790. And there are other companies who may also claim a descent from forerunners that could be challenged. Further, some are more brands than manufacturers today.
Yet, it is extremely impressive. Particular congratulations go to Faber-Castell, celebrating their 260th anniversary in 2021!
Wow, it has been a decade since the last comparative eraser review at pencil talk. I think the reason is that erasers have generally reached an excellent quality level. There are of course differences, but synthetic erasers from the top manufacturers in Japan or Europe are usually excellent, and the motivation to review them is diminished.
The Technik is the lightest.
The Caran d’Ache block erasers are interesting because of the shared dimensions, but differing appearances and stated functions. Caran d’Ache is also regarded as a leader in art supplies, and these products come with a reputation to uphold.
The three erasers are:
Artist 0173.420. Description: “Graphite and charcoal extra soft plastic eraser.” Green.
Design 0172.420. Description: “Graphite and colour pencil eraser.” White.
Technik 0171.420. Description: “Non-abrasive pencil eraser, does not remove ink.” Slightly translucent.
Years ago I sometimes set up very complex erasure tests, and there is indeed a complex pencil/paper/eraser/environmental factors relationship, but I wanted to keep this simpler – these erasers tested with one pencil and one test paper. I though a Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood pencil (freshly sharpened in an El Casco) would be appropriate, and decided that the Biella Index Card would be a nice companion.
All three are much harder than erasers from Tombow, Seed, etc. They also produce fine granular residue, particularly the green Artist. The Technik probably did the best job at complete erasure, and the Design is the one that most veered towards aggregation of the residue in clumps.
The erasers are good, but I don’t find them compelling when there are so many outstanding offerings available today. Of course, these are from Caran d’Ache.