Caran d’Ache Swiss Flag pencil

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Caran d'Ache Swiss Flag pencil

This pencil looks like it could be a marketing or novelty item. It lacks an imprinted name or model number. The pencil is made and sold by Caran d’Ache under their own name as part of a larger product campaign.

The graphic is striking – a red background, with white crosses. The matching ballpoint pen is sold as the ‘Swiss Flag’ pen in the ‘Essentially Swiss’ series, so I am calling this the Swiss Flag pencil. Let me know if you have a more correct name!

Caran d'Ache Swiss Flag pencil

This associated set is interesting in itself. There are many matching pen and pencil sets – with ‘pencil’ meaning ‘mechanical pencil’ – but I can’t think of another set where one can buy a ballpoint pen and matching woodcase pencil.

The pencil is round, with a silver coloured ferrule and white vinyl eraser.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Flag pencil

One pencil had a lead break while sharpening, but I couldn’t repeat that problem. The top photo shows an imperfect sharpening, with maybe a bit too much wood sharpened away. I would blame the sharpener, except that the sharpener continues to do fine with other pencils – and I tried more than one Swiss Flag pencil, more than once. So, I think the photo reflects my experoence.

The lead isn’t a standout, though not bad.

Overall, I think it is a nice, not too serious, fun pencil.

Caran d’Ache 351 pencil

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Caran d'Ache 351 pencil

The offerings of Caran d’Ache continue to intrigue.

At first glance, the 351 resembles the Technograph 777. But wait – there is a ferrule and eraser attached.

And the bar code is back in black, imprinted on the pencil’s reverse side. No nice peel-off plastic as was done with the Technograph.

I tried the 351 (a 351-2 to be exact) next to an HB Technograph 777. I really had to do quite a bit of testing to try and convince myself of the Technograph’s superiority. I wasn’t completely successful. In the end I would say that these pencils are very similar – in that range where differences aren’t immediately clear.

Caran d'Ache 351 pencil

While I don’t have any official context, the 351 would seem to be an office or school pencil – but it writes as well as the high end version. Good stuff!

I don’t usually evaluate erasers on woodcase pencils, but I tried the white vinyl eraser on the 351, and it is a surprise, being quite good on a variety of types of paper.

Another point of interest is the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo on the pencil. This would make it one of the first retail pencils from a major manufacturer to carry this statement.

Overall, the 351 is a very impressive pencil.

Caran d’Ache Technograph 777 pencil

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Caran d'Ache Technograph 777 pencil

“Caran d’Ache” is a rendering of the Russian word for “pencil”. It is also a Swiss art supply and luxury writing company named after a 19th century satirist who took Caran d’Ache as his editorial name.

The Technograph 777 is one of three graphite pencils currently made by Caran d’Ache, and their only woodcase pencil aimed at writing or drafting. (They make several very nice mechanical pencils.)

I’ve ordered these pencils from both Japan and the U.S. They seem harder to find than Caran d’Ache’s $500 fountain pens! Warning: a photo below shows unexpurgated graphite dust on a box of these pencils.

The pencils are yellow. Fortunately, not office supply store yellow – they are a rich, highly finished and distinctive bright yellow.

Caran d'Ache Technograph 777 pencil

The caps are finished in black, and the pencils are pre-sharpened.

Using terminology we introduced last month in our review of the Castell 9000, the pencil is marked in gold lettering:

Side 1 (Obverse): TECHNOGRAPH [logo] CARAN d’ACHE SWISS MADE 777 HB
Side 2: blank
Side 3: blank
Side 4 (Reverse): HB
Side 5: blank
Side 6: blank

I like this sparse look much more than that of pencils with two or three sides filled with text. So where’s the ubiquitous barcode? Caran d’Ache has preserved the looks of the pencil by putting the barcode on a removable perforated plastic wrapper. It would be great if others would imitate them.

Caran d'Ache Technograph 777 pencil

The pencils felt light to me. I put them on the scale. They ranged from 3.5g to 4.4g, with the mean being 3.8g. That’s identical to the reference Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 mean weight, so I was wrong. My new theory is that the absence of markings on the pencil makes them easier to hold, with much less effort needed to get a comfortable grip, and that this may make them feel lighter.

As pencils – I note they come in a wide range, but I’ll just mention the HB here – I tried to compare them with the Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 and Faber-Castell Castell 9000 on a variety of papers. Every time I thought that I might have found a difference, I found some variation in the testing conditions. Though I’d like to post “Pencil X makes lines like this” photos or scans, there seem to be a great number of variables that influence the line created, and the results can be faulty. Have you heard that in a stereo store, the loudest system will sound the “best” to most people, or that when the New Yorker blindfolded professional wine critics, simple distinctions like white vs. red couldn’t be discerned?

Caran d'Ache Technograph 777 pencil

What I can say is – the HB versions of these three highly regarded pencils make relatively similar lines, and that’s a high standard – this is all good news!

So if you get a chance, do try them out!

I’d like to thank two other pencil blogs that have reviewed this pencil:

Blyantsiden (In Norwegian)

and

Kent’s PencilLog (In Korean)

Though I can’t read either, I still feel I’ve benefited.