Saturday, September 8, 2018

Back to school small notebook


This is the last weekend before schools start again. So this means 2 things. A lot of stationary stuff everywhere and the last 2 days with "normal" traffic.
Yesterday I was in a shop and just noticed this bright neon small notebooks for just 0.25 Euro. I just had to have one of each color as they look very fun.
I enjoy using small notebooks as they are easy to fit in a pocket, in a bag without making it heavy or bulky. And this small size is just enough to write down some quick notes or have as a few backup information that is easy to reach on the go. Or just use it for something as basic as a shopping list.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ink Review Koh-I-Noor blue

The fountain pen ink is produced by Koh-I-Noor in the Czech Republic.
It comes in a plastic bottle 50 g, and it has no additional box to store the inkwell. All this I imagine is to reduce cost and offer the best possible price to the consumer.
It comes in just 3 colors, blue, black and red. It is a rather limited selection, but this kind of inks are marketed towards students who need a no fuss, inexpensive ink.
And when it comes to price, it is a fantastic one. It is available in about every shop and costs between 1.1 - 1.4 Euro (average of 1.5 USD).
Another cheap contender would be Hero, but the price for a bottle of 60 ml is about 4.8 - 5 USD
Another comparison could be done with Pelikan 4001 blue 1000 ml (which is cheaper than black). The price on Amazon.de for 1000 ml is 26.59 euro, which translates into 0.03 euro/ml or 1.5 euro for 50 ml.
This makes the Koh-I-Noor ink to be more cost-effective even compared to Hero ink or with purchase of 1 liter of Pelikan 4001 blue. Yes, the Hero comes in a glass bottle and has a box, which the Koh I Noor doesn't offer. But you have to admit the price for it is incredible.

The company also produces a document ink. "Ink suitable for fountain pens, light and moisture-resistant, cannot be removed from paper without damaging the paper. For use in archives, for writing documents and at registry offices." They offer it in 50 g plastic bottle and 30 ml in a glass bottle. It is available in blue and black.
Unfortunately, I could not come across this one. It is rarer than a unicorn's horn, at least in my area.

So the ink comes in an unimpressive plastic bottle, the label is in Czech and English and this is about it. The top colored band from the label represents the color inside.
It is a light blue, not too saturated. But I like the look of it. In appearance, it is in between the Faber Castell Royal Blue and the Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue. The Pelikan 4001 has a little more of an indigo color in it.


As I stated before, the ink is marketed for students, so this is a no fuss ink. It does not have a shine or shading. But it flows well, hasn't been able to clog a pen so far, it dries reasonably fast, and does not bleed.
There is an area where it doesn't do very well, and that is water. Running water over a piece of paper almost erased the entire Koh-I-Noor ink. It was hardly visible after. The Pelikan is not a lot better but I would grade it a little higher.

To conclude, I give it a thumbs up. It is a great value ink. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

"Get Out" presents Bic Matic

Doing detective work.. What better companion to find if not the Bic Matic.
The movie Get Out presents for a short period of time the famous Bic Matic
movie get out pencil writing bic matic

movie get out pencil writing bic matic

movie get out pencil writing bic matic
It's not the best movie, and I don't know if it deserves the mark it has on IMDB, but it has an interesting scenario.
In the movie, Rod is looking for his 26 year old friend, Chris. And to put down all his ideas, he uses a clear body Bic Matic with a yellow clip.

Also spotted in movies.
Thor using Bic four colours
Bic Matic Grip in cinema

Bic does not seem to be camera shy.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rotring 500 review

The Rotring 500 is the little brother of the 600 series. It shares the same looks but has a plastic barrel instead of metal. The grip is made from metal and has knurlings the same as the lead hardness indicator. It comes in sizes 0.35 (not available on Rotring's site), 0.5 and 0.7 only in black while the Rotring 600 can be found in silver as well but only in size 0.5 and 0.7 mm.

The first appearance of the rOtring 500 is around 1989 - 1990, the same time the rOtring 600 appeared on the market. 
When it came out, the pencil was available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.9 mm and the grip and lead harness indicator sections were silver while the rest of the pencil was black 
The codes for the pencil were:
502 503 (0.3 mm)
502 505 (0.5 mm)
502 507 (0.7 mm)
502 509 (0.9 mm)

Notice that Rotring was using lead size notations 0.3 mm and 0.9 mm. Nowadays the 0.3 mm became 0.35 mm and the 0.9 mm became 1.0 mm.

This looks like a very serious drafting pencil, and it is. It has a Rotring classic design, it is built very well with precision and comfort in mind, but the times have changed. As in the past, you could buy this serious tool in all drafting sizes, now it is available only in 0.35 (not available on Rotring's site or in their catalog), 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm while the bigger brother the 600 only comes in 0.5 and 0.7. These are the most common sizes used nowadays for general writing. So even the most die-hard drafting pencils are becoming regular mechanical pencils with a  peculiar design.

Getting back to the pencil. 1904725 and 1904727 are the new product codes for Rotring 500 0.5 mm and for 0.7 mm.
The 500 is the cheaper version of the 600. It is not the cheapest (that spot is reserved for the 300 complete plastic build). The 500 is made in Japan and the build seems solid. The grip, lead hardness indicator, and the cap are made out of brass. The clip is made out of stainless steel and the barrel is plastic (ABS) but feels nice to the touch.
I like the tool design, it screams, I was made with a precise purpose in mind. The barrel is hexagonal so it does not roll off the table, it has written with red "rOtring 500 / 0,7 mm". The clip is a very solid one and has the name rOtring, stamped on it. The lead hardness indicator is a nice touch, it does not move too freely so I do not think there is the risk of moving it by accident. What I like a lot is the repositioning of the red ring right at the end of the pencil. Also, it is not a strip of paint, it is a plastic with a red color. Very nice, because the paints used on the Rotring's tend to get erased with not too much use. The endcap is made out of brass and hides a small eraser and the feed system. One thing it misses is the color coding for the size, but as I mentioned before even the drafting pencils seem to move towards general writing instruments, so the lack of size colored marking is not a concern for most people.
This is about 3 times more expensive than a Rotring Tikky but when you hold it in your hand you can justify paying 3 times more. You could go even higher by purchasing the 600, but I feel that this is a great deal. You get a great mechanical pencil that is good looking, is well built and will cost less than half what a 600 will cost, and will offer almost what a 600 will.







I like how on the 2017 Rotring Catalog Cover the Rotring 500 0.5 mm pops up.

rotring 500 catalogue

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Black ink: Faber Castell vs Pelikan 4001

Lately, I have been using fountain pens more often. And I found that the most used color of ink is black. Both of the writing samples are with Faber Castell Loom fountain pen.
The Faber Castell has a more fluid ink, and the color is more saturated compared to the Pelikan.
On the plus side for the Pelikan, it is a bit cheaper and it is more popular, at least with the shops. You can find Pelikan 4001 in any stationary shop, small or big.
They are both close, but Pelikan wins at foto finish

I chose Pelikan mainly because it handled a little bit better in the sun test, you can see in the post ink over time. And it is easier to find

black ink faber castell vs pelikan 4001 fountain pen

black ink faber castell vs pelikan 4001 fountain pen

Saturday, July 7, 2018

OEM Kaweco

In a previous post, I talked about similarities between fountain pens and mechanical watches. It is clear that others have thought about this because Nomos is selling Kaweco Aluminium Sport on their site, branded with Nomos Glashutte. 
The price for the Nomos branded fountain pen version is about the same with the price of the Kaweco one. $ 72 (I made the comparison using the jetpens site, but take into consideration that the shipping is free from the Nomos site for most parts of the world while jetpens delivers with no cost in US)


"DESCRIPTION
Kaweco, a stationery company founded back in 1883 that once turned Heidelberg into the center of the German fountain pen industry, also produces pens for NOMOS Glashütte—since this is something NOMOS can’t do.
The design of these pens is rooted in the 1930’s, while the choice of materials employed is right up-to-date—they are produced from untreated, hand-polished aluminum. In other words: Life may leave its mark on the pen in the form of small scratches, dents, a fine patina, and other beautiful traces of time. That said, it comes with a protective cover—for traveling, for example—in the form of a black Jepard leather pouch. 

DETAILS
NOMOS’ aluminum fountain pen has a particularly soft steel nib (with an iridium tip, nib size M). 10.5 cm in length, or 13.5 cm when in use (with the lid attached to the end). Comes with a soft case made of black Jepard leather. Customers in the United States, please note: due to US Customs restrictions, orders delivered to the United States are shipped without an ink cartridge. Not to worry though, you can purchase these from your local office supply store online retailer under the name, "international standard cartridge"

I wonder, would you go for the Nomos version if you already own a Nomos watch or stick to the Kaweco original? Isn't this like wearing an Audi watch?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Advertising with a pencil

Many companies use promo materials to raise the public's awareness about their company, brand, products etc. Many times with a cheap plastic ballpoint that has the name printed on the side. Why not be a bit different and use a pencil instead.
Koh-I-Noor has a catalog to present their advertising products. In the images, you can see a lot of known brands using Koh-I-Noor pencils for marketing purposes

The pencils come in a variety of forms, and sizes and are using the colors of the brands they represent.

I really like the idea of using something less plasticky for marketing, plus they do not look all the same.

A double treat for me, apart from the cool idea of having marketing material in form of a humble pencil, is that I work for one of the companies that is present in the Koh-I-Noor catalog.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Continental Typewriter at a flea market

No pencils or fountain pens for today, just a little part of the history of writing, or IT :)
Even though last weeks had unstable weather and today according to the forecast it was not different I chose to get up early in the morning and go to the local flea market, that takes place every Saturday. It is the first time I go, and I heard that the best is to go early in the morning. Just to demonstrate how relative things are, I chose to go at 9 o'clock as it is a Saturday, but the flea market opens up at 4 am.
Anyway, I started roaming around, looking here and there. In all this time I didn't even notice the shining sun and the fact that my head and arms are getting burned. Going through junk is mesmerizing and creates a weirdly satisfying feeling.
Between the kitsch, junk, CE (China Export) and other things I can not put a tag on, I saw a part of history, writing or IT. I do not know where to put it.

I think the category for it is IT, as the seller put this Continental Typewriter next to laptops.
I can remember that one of my grandmother's neighbor had a typewriter, and I wrote so Mambo Jambo about 25 years ago or so. At the moment I didn't know how to write, as I haven't started school, but I was fascinated by the fact you could see the letters move to make an imprint on the paper.
I did a quick search on the internet and the last Continental Typewriter was produced in 1954.

Maybe this is not your, "cup of tea"... No problem, there were still a lot of things to see and buy                       I took home a #22 spanner, a punch, and a tailor's ruler. Maybe next time I will find some old fountain pens or something related to writing that is worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ink over time

Recently I started writing with a fountain pen again. The appetite for fountain pens has been ignited by the cheap Preppy. The sensation was quite nice switching from ballpoint to fountain pen. But the fact that ink is soluble into water made me contemplate on the resistance of ink over time. You can find on the Internet and on the forums good UV tests of different inks. But I wanted a test of my own to see how my inks work in my situation, so your  mileage may vary. I live in a place with moderate sunlight. I tried to replicate what would happen to your ink writings left on a table on which you get a fair share of sunlight.
The test is not very scientific as i used different fountain pens and the exposure to light was different as i did not used all the inks in the test from the begining but still the results are interesting.

Inks used: platinum blue black, Faber Castell royal blue, Faber Castell permanent black, Pelikan 4001 royal blue, Pelikan 4001 black, Pelikan 4001 personal mix 1:1 royal blue and black, Koh I Noor Blue

The test was conducted for a period of 4 months from March until June.

UV ink test, pelikan, faber castell, platinum, koh i noir

Results:
Koh I Noor blue with the least time exposed to sunlight is almost invisible
Faber Castell royal blue is very hard to read even though it received a similar amount of sun with Pelikan 4001 royal blue
The blacks from Pelikan and Faber Castell look similar after sun exposure.
The winner of the test I would say is the Platinum blue black
The ink was not the only one affected by the sun the paper that was exposed obtain a yellowish tint

Also see: Platinum Preppy

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gel Pens Pelikan, Pilot vs cheap brand

There are many products with very different price points and you can't just wonder, why the difference? You can tell yourself, it is the quality what you pay is what you get. But really?
I am bringing in to the ring an incredible threesome of gel pens.
Pelikan Soft Gel, Pilot Super Gel and no name brand Forster.

Cold start test. 

After a long period of sitting on the shelf. It is the first test because I had to get them started.
Pelikan, Pilot Super Gel 0.5 had no problem starting right away. Pilot 0.7 had some issues and Forster needed convincing.

writing with gel pen Pelikan Pilot Forster

Line width and saturation. 

I am testing only general purpose writing colors (blue, black)
Black color, test between Pilot 0.7 and Pelikan. I can say that Pelikan produces a hair skinnier line (the size is not advertised) and it seems to be a little less saturated compared to Pilot 0.7 mm
gel pen line width and color saturation
Blue color, test between Pilot 0.5 & 0.7 and Forster. Forster does not specify the width but is around 0.5. It is a lighter blue compared to Pilor but nice color. The width is very close to Pilot 0.5. The 0.7 mm Pilot has a darker color and a thicker line.

Bleeding

I tested all this on cheap copy machine paper, because it is most likely to use this pens in an office environment where this kind of paper is the norm.
No surprise the thinner the point less bleedthrough.
Worst performance order:
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 black. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 blue. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.5 blue. It has decent performance and can be used
On the same place Pelikan Soft Gel and Forster with very little bleedthrough.
gel pen bleed through copy paper Pelikan vs Pilot


Comfort and ergonomics

The best in class is the Pilot, which has a grip section with smooth circles spaced closely. It is comfortable and you can use the pen for long hours
Second is the Pelikan with a rubber insert. It is at the same level with the plastic body. It feels good but I do not think offers to many benefits.
Last is the Forster which has the grip identical with the rest of the barrel just a bit thicker. It is not uncomfortable to use but for sure they cut some corners to be able to produce them for cheap. It has a sharper edge if you're gripping the pen close to the lead.
gel pen ergonomic

Writing experience

The writing is the most important aspect of the pen after all. I can say that all right ok, but my opinion is that Pelikan is the smoothest. Pilot has a bad feel to it, it's like the ball is wobbling inside, it does not seem a quality assembly. And this aspect is true to all of the tested Pilots. Even the Forster felt better to me.

Quality

Forster is cheaply made, the cap is not as secure as the other. Also, the clip cannot be used as if you pull it slides out of the cap. This is not valid for all the ones I have only for the blue color. But it shows that the quality control and the design are not the best.

Value

This is a very interesting section. Because I don't think it is a surprise to anybody that the quality on a cheap no-name brand is lower compared to Pilot or even Pelikan.
But the real question is a cheap product a good value to the customer. Well, it can be a very good value sometimes.
In this case, I think you get 90% of the quality for a lot less money
cheap gel penIt's not the most scientific test you can make but sometimes you need to simplify the process and admit that your mileage might vary.
How long will the pen write depends on the level of ink inside. Of course, other factors influence the mileage, like the line thickness, reservoir diameter, and ink viscosity. So the 0.5 pens will last longer than 0.7.
But to compare the pens (0.5) without writing until the pen is out of ink I measured the ink inside. I assumed the diameter and viscosity of the gel holder are similar so I did not take this into consideration while doing the measurements. Pelikan and Forster do not say the line thickness but I consider them to be a 0.5 as they are very close to the Pilot in width.

BrandInk levelPriceInkPrice
cmeurcomparisoncomparison
Froster9.70.24benchmarkbenchmark
Pelikan Soft Gel10.70.64+ 10.3%267%
Pilot Super Gel9.90.99+ 2%413%




In this situation, Forster is cheaper by a mile. It holds less ink but it is cheaper between 2 and 4 times than Pelikan and Pilot. That in my book is called a good deal. But there is a catch. The ink levels between my Forster pens vary a bit. One of them has 1.5 cm less than the one I measured. Another one is 0.9 cm less. So this is not very consistent. But even if I would redo the test, and I would use the one with the smallest amount of ink the test will still look great. The Pelikan would hold ~ + 30% more ink but still costs 2.67 times more. The Pilot would hold around + 20% more ink and would still cost more than 4 times as much. So you can buy for each 2 Pelikans 5 Forsters, And for each Pilot 4 Forsters.
Annoying is the fact that not all pens are filled up as they should be, and again this is the lack of quality control with this ones.
All discomforts aside they are good value. Pelikan is the second on the list and Pilot get the disappointing 3rd place as the product is very expensive, and the writing experience is not as good as the cheaper products tested.