Thursday, April 22, 2021

Baoke pen

This is not a known name, but you will find here and there reviews mostly of fountain pens over the internet. It is a Chinese brand, usually found on eBay but I found this pen in a local shop. It intrigued me as it was rather cheap and it seemed like a nice pen at the same time. The Baoke B33 1.0 (I guess 1.0 is the thickness of the refill) 

The pen is inspired by Parker Jotter, I wouldn't call it a copy but the design definitely has some Jotter vibes.

The body is a very nice plastic that has a soft feeling, giving it a more premium feel and look. The plastic didn't deteriorate over time, as I have this pencil for a couple of years. I do not use it very often, it stays at the office most of the time and I use it to take notes, sign stuff if I don't have other pens on me, or lend it to colleagues.

The barrel is on the thinner side, but it is a nice size for short sessions. 

The upper section has a metal sleeve to give a more sturdy and premium look, underneath if you force it off you will find plastic.

The clip is strong and secure, as well as the mechanism which has a good feel.

The refill is Parker style, and it writes ok, no complaints here. The color of the ink is a nice blue. And I would rate the writing experience above average from what you would expect from a Chinese pen cheap ballpoint pen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Faber Castell Shark mechanical pencil

shark mechanical pencil

 Shark week presents Faber Castell mechanical pencil :)

Quite an interesting and fun design for a mechanical pencil, and not as scary as you would think based on the title of the post. The pencil caught my eye and I had to take it home with me.
It is completely made out of plastic, the barrel and the front section are made out of translucent grey plastic, which are contrasted by the over the top rubber grip in a nice light blue color.
shark mechanical pencil
The plastic used in the pencil is a bit on the flimsy side. So even though the pencil has a retracting metal sleeve, I would not carry it in a pocket.
The grip feels nice in the hand. The grooves give you a good grip. The front end flares a bit out, and the top end of the grip ends with an original fish eye, mouth, and teeth. In general, these kinds of grips do not cope well with the passing of time. But in this case, I don't know which will outlive which, the body of the pencil or the grip. 
The clip doesn't offer the impression of security or durability.
To refill the pencil you can take out the eraser like you would on most of the mechanical pencils out there or you can remove the plastic endcap entirely and get access to the lead reservoir.
The printing on the pencil is minimal. It is an off-white Faber Castell and the logo and beneath the name "Shark Pencil" and the size.
Overall this is a nice pencil, not necessarily because of the quality of the build but because of the intriguing design. I like the unique style, the balance of the colors, and the aerodynamic or hydrodynamic look.

Inspired I guess by the pencil I have watched a lot of shark movies, from classics like Jaws to newer releases like The Reef, Open Water series, Bait 3d, and a few others.

Friday, March 19, 2021

PVC in erasers, Faber Castell Erasers comparison

Recently I have spent more time reading about Radon, VOC, and products that contain harmful ingredients. If you try to eat more eco-product also take a look at the stuff that surrounds you. Inside our homes many if not all the surfaces release compounds in the air that are not necessarily good for our health. The first step would be to limit the toxic materials or use them as sparingly as possible and if the space allows for a mechanical ventilation system I would suggest you look into it, as it is a very good way of reducing the concentrations of pollutants to low levels.
If what you eat matters this should matter as well. 
Most if not all of the products that are made out of plastic and have a rubbery/soft texture contain harmful chemicals that enter our bodys. The easiest method for these substances to enter our body is licking/chewing (sounds funny but many children chew on erasers/pencil etc), but there are other ways and a lot more products that we use daily.

Moving on to the stationary... I have come across an article, China Testing School Erasers
You can read more in the article. Long story short, they have tested for products meeting the toxic materials present in the erasers and the concentrations.

The brands that were part of the test wee:

The complete report is in Chinese, so I can't understand more than the pictures tell me.
Tombow Mono Plastic Eraser, Muji Plastic Eraser, Uni Plastic, Pilot Foam, Radar, Pentel Hi-Polymer,  Faber Castell Dust Free plus many more use PVC in their composition. Some have really high values, but I will not try to interpret those. The highest numbers are beside UNI, Pilot, Radar, MONO.
The article recommends using PVC free.

So here I am, testing three Faber Castell erasers, not for toxic materials but on their performance in doing their job. Two of them are PVC Free Erasers (the top row erasers from the first picture) and the third is the Faber Castell Dust Free eraser. 
The Dust Free 18 71 21 is a very good eraser, praised by a lot of people and widely used. It erases ok, and leaves very little residue behind. This makes it a favorite. Also, the black color helps to hide the dirt accumulated on it. This will be the control, representing the PVC erasers.

The white PVC Free eraser came with a protective paper cover while the green PVC Free eraser came in a very basic plastic wrap. The white PVC Free has all the writing on the paper cover, while the green has the information printed directly on it. 
I have tested to see how the erasers do, with classic lead and with polymer lead. All of the erasers did very well erasing the pencil marks completely without any effort.
Even though the results are similar, the feel is very different.
The Dust Free is grippy in a nice way, not wrinkles in the paper grippy, and it flexes a lot, leaving little to no residue behind.
The white eraser leaves a little more residue compared with the Dust Free, but still, small quantities compared with other erasers. The residue tends to clump together but there are definitely a lot of small particles.
The Pvc Free green eraser seems to be a bit stiffer than the white Pvc Free. You can feel it in hand and when you use it. It has a plastic feel, sliding over the paper more. It leaves more residue but the residue tends to stick to the eraser (or not break off).

In conclusion, I would say get a PVC Free eraser. It won't be a huge difference in erasing performance. 
I am sure that PVC erasers will not cause that much harm, compared to other pollutants we encounter daily but it is good to limit as much as possible your exposure to them. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Lamy present in Capitan America Civil War

Watching the marvel movies again I saw in the movie Capitan America Civil War that Capitan America likes Lamy inks.
On the desk, he has a Lamy ink bottle, and some fountain pens I assume even though the fountain pens can't be identified by the shoots.
I have to say the look of the Lamy ink bottle works really well with the somewhat modern office design.

In the same movie Tony Stark "Iron Man" offers Capitan America a set of fountain pens to sign a document.

These fountain pens look more like dip pens. Cool look but I can't figure out who makes them.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen review

There is a lot of talk about a cheap and very good fountain pen, the Pilot Metropolitan. So I decided to try it out as it was a good deal online. I ordered it and the packaging was a nice surprise. I usually don't care much about the way the fountain pen is presented, and the boxes usually are put to storage in a drawer but, for an affordable pen it was surprising to receive it like this.
The box came in a nice gift bag with Pilot name on it and some creepy animals. 
My box came with a brown snake print which is not the print and color of the fountain pen. This is a small minus, and I do not know if this happens because of the retailer or Pilot not match the box to the fountain pen theme. 
I also saw these fountain pens coming in plastic see trough cases.
I bought the leopard blue / purple fountain pen (more purple than blue). The color and finish are nice, even though I am not a big fan of animal patterns. But this makes an interesting combination between a classic shape and a more bold design.
The body and the cap are made out of metal and feel nice to the touch. The nib section is made out of plastic and has a tapered shape.
The nice and fine lines of the body are interrupted in the middle by the print and a chromed ring that delimits the cap from the body. Pilot Japan is printed right above the ring.
The cap is a pop fit and I find it secure enough. Though the pop is not very satisfying.
pilot mr
The thing that might put off people is the steep step between the grip section and the barrel. In certain hand positions, it might be problematic, but this wasn't the case for me.
I do not like to cap fountain pens but if you do then don't worry as it caps very nice and secure.
This version takes international standard cartridges, which is a plus (proprietary is a no-no).
The nib is not very decorated, just Pilot Japan and the letter M. The Medium nib writes very fine and it is smooth. I didn't do anything to it, just as it came it writes well. You can get it with a fine as well.
I appreciate that Pilot created a fountain pen that is affordable without cutting too many corners. The Metropolitan writes well, it has a classic shape that appeals to many people but with a twist of modern prints colors and designs, a body made out of metal and, this version at least takes international cartridges. A small drawback is the fact that it only comes in two nib sizes, Fine and Medium. But because the fountain pen is for general use "entry level", I consider it to be just fine.
More recently I have seen a very big price increase of the fountain pen locally. Probably people are more interested in Pilot's Metropolitan Fountain pen.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Parker 51 fountain pen reissue 2021

I have just seen that Parker will reissue the famous model 51 in 2021. The rumor about a reissue of the Parker 51 appeared in late 2019, and now you can buy it from several online stores. So if you are interested in old news stay tuned :D

This is not the first reissue of the fountain pen, a previous special edition was released around the year 2000 with 2 pen variants.

The new Parker 51 is a redesigned model inspired by the original. And I am happy to see that Parker is capitalizing on its own success. Because many fountain pen manufacturers have over the years filled in the void left by Parker. At the same time, Parker has reasons to thank them as they kept the style in the hands and hearts of users.
The new Parker 51 comes in a good range of colors similar to the traditional ones and two. The stainless steel one is the budget option priced at around 90 - 100 eur and while the gold plated cap is about three times the price of the first. The gold plated cap Parker also has an 18K gold nib and the cap is not smooth it has some grooves giving it a more refined look.
Both variants, the stainless steel cap, and the gold plated cap have bodies made out of resin. the only part which is not resin is the joint of the body which is metal and thus should increase the durability of the body.

The cap now screws in, compared to the original one which was a snap cap. It is a bit of a trade-off, you probably will bet a better seal but it will not be as friendly with taking quick notes. I am not saying it is a good or bad thing, I am just saying it is a bit different.
The most iconic feature besides the look is the hooded nib which was kept. The nib as mentioned previously is steel while the gold cap version has an 18k gold nib. They come in size Fine or Medium.
The filling system was updated to a converter.


I am very curious about what hardcore fans of the old Parker 51 have to say about these new releases, and if they would get the new models. The originals are considered very reliable pens, very good writers. A workhorse fountain pen that will last several lifetimes, and at the same time it has the appeal of owning a part of history, the original and not a reissue. Time will tell if these will lift up to their own name.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Uni Jetstream ballpoint

This review will be about the Uni Jetstream ballpoint pen. I do believe this is the best ballpoint pen on the market and I encourage you to give it a try, even if you are not a fan of ballpoints. I think you will find enjoyment in using it.
"In 1887 Niroku Masaki founded the company UNI in Tokyo Japan. In 1979 it became the UNI Mitshubishi Pencil. The name UNI comes from the word unic."
The company has in its portfolio a variety of rollers and ink pens. The Jetstream is part of the "hybrid" line, combining the technology from ballpoints and from rollers. It writes more like a roller and the writing is water resistant.
There are multiple pens in the Jetstream line but I will be talking about the SXN 101 which is available in size 0.5 and 0.7 mm line width.

The writing sensation offered by the Jetstream is incredible. It is smooth, it writes consistently, no hard starts and no skips and it keeps up all the time. I would say the most important thing for the pen is the writing experience. I am using the 0.5 mm version and it feels very nice. 
The pen is nothing fancy but it feels good in the hand.  It is all made out of plastic, the body is translucent and has the color of the paste inside. The Jetstream is available in a number of interesting colors besides the standard blue, black and red. 
The grip is made out of rubber, and it has a very pleasant feel. It is long-lasting, it is smooth and hard at the same time, and it is very solidly attached to the body, there is no movement. The drawback of it is the fact you can not see the level of the refill.
I can't say that the clip is the most solid, and it feels like it is going to break without too much effort but it is reasonable for the price you pay. I would like it to be a bit stronger as this is a reusable pen, but taking into account the pen costs just a little more than a refill in case it brakes you can just get a new one. The action of the mechanism is very solid and feels good when used.
As I already mentioned this is a reusable pen, the tip unscrews thus allowing you to change the refill.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Seen on the screen, Christmas mood

This is not the traditional Christmas movie, it is Bad Santa 2.
In the opening scenes, Billy Bob Thornton is writing his goodby notes on a, what seems to be, a pizza box with a Parker Jotter pen.

It is a red plastic barrel Jotter pen. It is not very clear but I think it is the translucent version.

In a very messy kitchen between empty bottles and a lot of trash

Billy Bob Thornton is using the Parker Jotter to note down his last wish

Of course, he doesn't go through with his plans, as it would be a bit depressing for a Christmas movie and also very short.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

I wish you all a wonderful time beside the loved ones Take care, stay safe and enjoy the holidays.


Friday, December 4, 2020

Faber Castell lead grade and a bit of history

I stumbled upon a catalog from Faber Castell which I consider to be very interesting, "Product Knowledge Manual".
The catalog starts with a short history of the company and its line. I like that the history was detailed and well documented.

I encourage you to read it but I will give below a short version presenting the important moments, so be aware, spoilers will come. 
-In 1761 Kasper Faber produces a pencil in Stein and sells it in a market in Nuremberg. 
-Then his son Anton Wilhelm Faber takes over and the workshop becomes A.W. Faber. After the business is taken over by Georg Leonhard Faber, but he doesn't do too well, as the business goes through rough times (political and economic difficult period). 
-The son of Georg, Lothar von Faber takes over and develops the business.
He develops the modern quality pencil, sets the length and different grades of hardness that remain valid today, also it is the first time to produce a hexagonal section
The pencil is labeled A.W. Faber, becoming the world's first brand pencil. Also, he expands and founds a branch in New York, and subsidiaries in London, Paris, Vienna, St Petersburg.
-Wilhelm von Faber, the son of Lothar runs the company for a while. 
-After Wilhelm's death, his daughter Baroness Ottilie von Faber marries Count Alexander zu Castell Rudenhausen. Lothar before his death through his testament assured that future generations will have to keep the Faber name. So after the marriage of Ottilie and Alexander, the family name became Faber - Castell. At this time the company became Faber-Castell.
In 1905 the green Castell pencil range is launched, with a new product logo "Tournament of the jousting Pencil Knights"
-Roland Graf von Faber-Castell, son of Ottilie and Alexander succeeds 
-Followed by his son Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell ran the company until 2016
-After his death, the company was taken over by a board of directors of which Countess Mary von Faber-Castell is part of

Indeed an interesting history. So between 1839–1896, Lothar the 4th generation of Faber's running the pencil business standardized what today is a Faber Castell pencil, the basic shape, and the lead hardness grade. In 1905 Alexander, the 6th generation made the traditional Faber Castell green.

They tell us that "the ideal writing pencil (for example in office) is the medium degree of harness so-called HB, while the school student's pencil has a B hardness degree.

I always thought that a #2 pencil is the equivalent HB, but apparently, it is B.
1     2     2 1/2     3     4
2B  B      HB      H   2H

Faber Castell offers the model 9000 pencil in 16 degrees of hardness, which is awesome. Also, in the manual the diagram of the mixture between clay and graphite for all the hardnes's.

It is interesting as we can approximate the mixing of the two components to get the different hardness. Just at a glance, you can see around the HB is an inflection point where the increase of graphite in the composition is less and less. I mean that between a 2b and 4b the formula seems to be very similar. 
Based on this graphic the composition rounded up to an integer. The b - 8b is increasing the graphite by an increment of 2 percent. 
Also, the HB is not a 50% mix of the two but 66% of graphite and only 34% of clay.
This is true of course for Faber Castell as the hardness of the lead is not standardize, so different manufacturers can produce the HB pencils a bit different.