Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 5

6 comments

Our fifth and final article on Faber-Castell perfect pencils.

This is the original silver-plate version that you’ve probably seen languishing in storefronts for some years now.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The set is all wood, with a heavy metal (brass?) silver-plated lid.

The inlay that surrounds the writing instruments is also solid wood, unlike the frosted green glass case.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The set includes four spare pencils, four spare erasers, and a sharpener.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The extender is the slimmest we’ve yet seen, as the cap doesn’t contain a sharpener.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The mechanism is like that of a traditional pencil extender, with a sliding ring. There is also a nice Faber-Castell clip.

Since there is no built-in sharpener, a sharpener is provided – maybe the nicest (and possibly the heaviest) compact manual sharpener ever made. Finished in fluting like that of the pencil, it matches a larger two hole desktop model, as well as the Graf von Faber-Castell erasers and the pencils themselves.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

This case has since been updated to include the platinum-plate perfect pencil (no classic sharpener, though). I would recommend it over the frosted glass case based on construction and material quality.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

It’s the only one of the series that I generally leave at home, probably because the ones with sharpeners are just a bit more practical.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

This product started the line, and I think, was very important to the pencil industry, much in the way high end sports cars can stimulate overall car sales, though they themselves may sell in very small quantities.
Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Other Versions

There are at least three more perfect pencil versions. I can’t write about them from personal experience, and don’t know how their mechanisms might differ from the featured pencils.

– A sterling silver version. Still for sale as far as I know.

– A stainless steel with diamonds version. This was a limited edition. It shows up on eBay from time to time. I actually got an email a couple of years ago from a dealer who wondered if I wanted to buy one. My answer: maybe, but not at anything close to the full retail price. (No deal.)

– The famous white gold with diamonds version, a limited edition of 99. This was of course great marketing, getting immense amounts of publicity for being “the world’s most expensive pencil”. An article in The Economist detailed some of the marketing background. (This series was based on a management consultant’s recommendation that they create a premiere line.) These also show up on eBay from time to time, much reduced from their original price.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with what Faber-Castell has done in the perfect pencil series.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 4

21 comments

Fourth in our series is the platinum-plate version of the Perfect Pencil. This post has far more photos than in any previous entry, so please let me know if you encounter problems such as the website slowing down.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

This is the currently offered Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil. It is sold alone, and in various sets. I have the wood and green frosted glass set.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

I have seen similar looking tables with dark wood and green frosted glass at furniture stores, and don’t know which came first.

The pencils are like those in our previous post. At a certain price point, I think it is reasonable to expect very high quality from pencils, and these don’t disappoint.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

As well, there are four spare (unsharpened) pencils, and four erasers.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The pencil supplied with the extender is pre-sharpened.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The extender mechanism is like that of the aluminum pencil – a tapered fit, no mechanics.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The clip is the nicest we’ve yet seen, strong and very springy.

Pulling the cap reveals – an aluminum sharpener! With the same form factor as the plastic sharpeners, it can be retrofitted to other perfect pencils. (And, I did order a few from my favourite fountain pen store for just that purpose.)

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

I have used it regularly, just like the silver-plate pencil, but the platinum has resisted tarnish, and it still looks spiffy after some years.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

This perfect pencil is very nice, and I can’t imagine pencil connoisseurs not liking it.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Now about that case. It is like a house with great “curb appeal” and a broken furnace. It may look great from the outside, but the interior inlay is a cheap piece of dust-magnet plastic. This is a huge disappointment to me.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The frosted glass is attached to the hinge brackets with glue, and broke off during last summer’s humidity (I left the lid open, the pencils on display). Luckily the glass didn’t break. It reattached with pressure, but doesn’t fit quite as well.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

As a customer, I did find this quite disappointing.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

While I feel the pencil product is excellent, I would avoid this particular case unless you really intend on leaving it untouched on a desk or shelf.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 3

7 comments

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

We’ve looked at the plastic and aluminum perfect pencils – today we’ll look at the silver-plate version.

My sense is that Faber-Castell is withdrawing their silver-plate products, probably for some of the reasons that we’ll see in this article.

First, let me acknowledge that I don’t have an anti-tarnish regime, and have not thought much about establishing one. I’ve also held off on this post for some time, fearing that it might not be fair to the product to present it this way. But pencil talk has never displayed manufacturer photos – nor do we just link to random websites and say “cool product” – we use and write about pencils from a personal viewpoint, and hope that readers are aware of this practice.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

So that said, I love and regularly use this pencil, but don’t polish or maintain it. I feel that a pencil should be “low maintenance”.

The pencil extender may have been sold alone, but I bought a set – a wooden box with hinged lid.

The pencil arrives sharpened, in the ribbed Graf von Faber-Castell style. This model is black with black dyed wood. There is also a natural finish (wood undyed) version. The pencil crown has a cavity for a replaceable eraser. The eraser is covered by a screwed on cap, also silver-plate.

Kudos to Faber-Castell – the long standing complaint about worn-down erasers has been solved!

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

There are also two unsharpened replacement pencils in the box.

The extender operates by twisting and untwisting the midsection – no removable parts to lose. Note that is this is the third (and not the last) extender mechanism we’ve seen.

The extender cap pulls off to reveal a sharpener – the same one seen in our other pencils.

The clip has a very nice spring action, of the sort used in Faber-Castell’s finer writing implements.

The product is very functional, and a great celebration of the woodcase pencil. I think it looks great, even unmaintained.

Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Still, I think I may want to buy a silver polishing cloth – carefully examining the pencil has made me want to get it ship shape.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 2

8 comments

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Next in our “Perfect Pencil” series, we are going to look at the Design Perfect Pencil, which features an aluminum pencil extender.

It is typically sold in a paper and plastic box with the extender and three of the refill pencils.

The product is interesting in itself, and also an intermediate step between the plastic and precious metal versions of the product.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

The pencils supplied are round, supplied in black or brown, and more recently silver.

The extender presents itself as a single rounded aluminum piece. It grips the pencil with a smooth tapered fit – no machinery to fiddle with. (Not that fiddling with machinery is a bad thing.) It is adorned with two black rubbery rings and a clip.

A silver coloured cap pulls out with an attached sharpener. The sharpener is the same model used in the Castell Perfect Pencil. However, the sharpener works magnificently! It is a wonder of concision, economically stuffing a first rate pencil sharpener into the extender.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

It works well, and the extender matches the silver pencil very well.

I like it, and it is easy to use, though the supplied pencils don’t seem quite up to snuff. (Great design, but not half as smooth as the 9000 in B.)

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 1

14 comments

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

This article is the first in a series on Faber-Castell’s “Perfect Pencil” line.

The Perfect Pencil is a pencil extender with a clip. Newer versions also have a built in sharpener. The mechanisms and materials vary through the product range.

Today we’ll look at the basic model, the Castell Perfect Pencil.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

Sold loose or in a blister pack, the product is a sharpened Castell 9000 pencil with eraser, shorter than standard length. The pencil has a plastic green extender, which caps the pencil. The extender provides a metal clip.

This extender is the essence of the product. The extender can be used as a point protector while transporting the pencil, and as an extender as the pencil wears down.

The top of the extender has its own cap, which pulls out to reveal a portable sharpener. The sharpener can be unscrewed and replaced. The extender is removed by twisting a screw-on end part.

As you may see from the photos, my perfect pencil is quite worn from use. I really like it, and use it a lot. It makes a pencil very portable and usable – protecting the point, providing a clip, and supplying a super compact sharpener.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

A more subtle point as well – the matching of the famous green of the Castell 9000 pencil in the extender creates a nice flow and look. You can use another pencil with the extender, but the 9000 naturally fits. A Musgrave Unigraph might also go well.

Some negatives –

The sharpener is a disappointment. It has to be held in a very specific way to get it to sharpen, and even then barely works. Yet – I have other perfect pencil sharpeners that are excellent. So I’ll call it a quality control problem. The parts are so small that they likely have to be made to very specific tolerances, and were sub-par on the particular one I bought.

A white eraser will tend to be quickly become not so white if carried around. Not a big deal to me, and as we’ll see, not an issue in the higher end products.

The little end part that is twisted to allow the extender to be removed can be unscrewed and lost.

Price. Regular blog readers will know that we don’t usually focus on product costs. But this item has a premium price in many markets including Canada, yet is mainly plastic. To put it in relative terms – this extender will cost more than a dozen Castell 9000 pencils in my local market. I have no disagreement with anyone who would rather have those dozen pencils!

I looked at one possible substitute last week, also not so cheap, and have to conclude that more competition in this area would be good. How about some investment in the ergonomics of pencil extenders. We have looked at pencil extenders before – and the truth is that these “extenders” are last resorts. Surely someone could come up with a comfortable, lightweight alternative, that ergonomically flows from the pencil. (The Staedtler 900 25 does better, and I have seen a few photos of other types of extenders, such as the one made by Itoya, but have not directly seen or used them.)

And the positives –

It remains an innovative and unique way for those of us who use and like woodcase pencils to transport, maintain, and use them. The product implementations many key pencil use principles – safety, portability, sharpening, and erasure.

It works, and is very practical – it can take considerable use, even some abuse, and continue functioning.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

And a small update – there appears to be a newer, lower priced version on some markets, though I haven’t yet seen one.

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

5 comments

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.