2009년 9월 30일 수요일

Graf von Faber Castell Pencil

In one of the stationery forum website I occasionally visit, there was a small struggle. Somebody wrote that buying luxurious and expensive writing instruments or other stationeries is just provoked by vanity and they're useless and never really practical. In the point of view of practical use and functional specification, there may be no huge differences between a 30 USD fountain pen and a limited edition 3000 USD fountain pen. You can fill them with ink and write on papers with them. You can carry them in your shirts pocket and destroy them by throwing them on the wall. Even with 20¢ ball-point pen, you won't have any problem when you write something on the paper.

What's the reason the price gap between a 5¢ plastic bag and a 3000 USD Chanel bag, between a 4 USD baggy shirt and a 4000 USD tuxedo? And,

between a 2-USD-for-a-dozen pencil and this pencil?

Maybe you already know well about the Graf von Faber-Castell. It produces normal pencils as well, not only Perfect Pencil.

How much is the highest price of the pencil, which has no permanent metallic part that ordinary people can admit? The price of Graf von Faber-Castell pencil - one of the most expensive mass-produced woodcased pencil - is about 10 USD for one pencil. It's much higher than the prices of one dozen of quality pencils like STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph or Faber-Castell Castell 9000.

What is the reason of that so high price for the woodcased pencil?
Do you accept that?
If you do not,

take a look at the wooden case after taking the paper case off.

Have you ever seen this kind of case for some other wood cased pencil before?

The lid is fitted onto the case body a bit tightly.

It looks like it's harsh, but it's just because of the magnification. Rather it's really smooth enough. The lid seems to be made by carving one wood piece.

In that great package, there are twelve pencils. Each individual pencil is engraved with twelve grooves, glazed with the varnish that doesn't spoils the color and the feel of the quality wooden barrel, and put with real silver cap.

It is sharpened very smoothly.

I'm sorry for that above magnified picture may not give you the proper impression of the real silver cap. It's not a silver-colored metal cap. It's real silver. So it can be stained easily as time passes. In that case, I get rid of the stain with ordinary eraser. It works well.

There's some variations of Graf von Faber-Castell pencil.

There are two variations - brown and black colored.

Three of them come with a Graf von Faber-Castell logo-printed paper band.

Unlike the first silver-capped one, the caps of these variations are quite simple.

It seems that the leads of these are same with the silver-capped one.

I think Faber-Castell may say that the hardness degree of this pencil is B. Like other German-made Faber-Castell pencils like Castell 9000 and Grip 2001 it's harder than expectation. It's almost same with the F grade of STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph.

You will feel it's almost ideal when you write with it. It's just my private opinion but I felt it's quite easier to write for a long time without strain on my hand. Maybe it's because of autohypnosis made by the high price. Or, maybe it's because of the thicker barrel.

Even with some Korean made cheap&good office pencils like the Dong-A Orange pencil and the MunHwa DeoJon pencil and the famous Dixon Ticonderoga, you can feel enough satisfaction not only as a collector, but also as a strict practical user.

Nonetheless, if we're not living in the world where every people wears white shirt, black skirt and red badge, how about allowing the production of this kind of pencil?

2009년 9월 24일 목요일

COBU Leather Pencil Case

 A demerit of pencil is that it's a bit harder to store and carry around.

 The ever-exposed lead can stain books, notes, bags with graphite and dye and sometimes be dangerous if it's well sharpened. Of course, you can choose something like Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil or put some cap on the lead end to prevent that. Nevertheless pencil case is usually the best solution.

 In some countries like Korea, the state of pencil is not so high and the people think it is just for kids or for worthless use. Therefore, it is a bit hard to find some pencil case that is proper enough to be put into a gentleman's briefcase. You can choose some luxurious pen pouches and cases made by some pen makers for collecting pens. However, because of the length of normal pencil is much longer than ordinary pen, it's also very hard to find some appropriate ones.

 Generally, eraser-tipped pencils are longer and the length is at most 19.5cm. I usually use 2 or 3 pencils for my work in a day, and it seldom excess 5. Consequently, I needed a for-adult pencil case, which can contain at least 5 graphite pencils, an eraser, a few pens, colored pencils and others.

 And I finally found this perfectly appropriate one, COBU leather PENCIL case.



 The basic material is cowhide. This almost-rectangular pencil case can be secured with the YKK zipper. A partition divides the inside and it can hold 5 woodcased pencils. The dimension is about 20cm*7cm*3.5cm so you can put almost all kind of pencil including newly sharpened eraser-tipped one, except some curiously long pencils like LYRA Orlow Cellugraph 1174.



You can stock about at most 8 to 10 pens and pencils in lower space.




This pencil case is packaged in a simple and nice paper box. The face of sewing rabbit (probably it's leather piece?) is quite cute. COBU seems a Japanese minor enterprise. The price of their product is not cheap, but I think they're using really quality material so that it's not overpriced.

Only black colored model is available in Korea, but you can find pink, red and deep blue colored model in Japan. You can also buy another models there those are secured by magnetics, not zippers.



 When it's closed, every single side of this rectangular pencil case is so simple and neat. The finish is almost perfect.




The COBU leather pencil case always places in my briefcase. Pencils inside it replaces by other ones everyday, but I will hardly find another pencil case that can replace it.

I don't rate an item in this detail, but...

Satisfaction rate : 99%.



2009년 9월 22일 화요일

필드 노트 제1부

사실 이 노트는 제가 가끔 들리는 인터넷 쇼핑몰에서 배송료를 안 물 작정으로

적당한 것을 찾다가 구매하게 된 노트입니다.

전에 다른 해외 블로거들의 리뷰를 스쳐 지나간 적이 있어서 '어? 한국에 들어왔네?' 하며

세부 정보도 잘 살펴보지 않고 아무 생각없이 장바구니에 넣었었죠.

13,900원이라는 노트치고는 상당히 비싼 가격도 3권이나 주니까 하면서요.

배송받고 나서야, 1권에 48페이지, 장수로는 24장, 그나마 스테이플로 찍어 놓은 노트이기 때문에

정말 노트 제작에 들어간 종이의 장수는 표지 포함 13장이라는 것을 알았습니다..

13900 / 3 / 24 하면 한 장에 약 193원, 그러니까 A6 사이즈 한 면을 쓰는데 100원이라는 소리인데요.

게다가 클레르퐁텐이나 로디아같은 노트에 비해 종이가 얇습니다.

이미 다이어리, 각종 수첩 등등의 용도로 많은 노트들을 가지고 있고 여분도 충분한데,

종이 자체의 질로 봐서는 이미 가진 것보다 못한 이 노트는

도대체 무슨 용도로 써야 할까요.

도대체 세계의 다른 블로거들은 어째서 이 노트에 대해서 나름 호평을 한 것일까요.

일단 노트의 뒷면을 봅시다.

전체적으로 심플한 디자인은 마음에 듭니다.

가격을 높인 주 원인은 아마도 이것이겠지요? '인쇄와 제조는 자랑스럽게도 미국에서 했습죠.'

뒷표지의 안쪽에는 필드 노트에 대한 이야기와 사용례, 특징 등이 적혀 있습니다.

비록 인치 단위이기는 하지만 우측에는 인쇄된 자도 있군요.

세계에서 몇 남지 않은, 고집스럽게 인치 스케일을 고수하고 있는 미국입니다.

사실, 한국인한테는 subgenre of agricultural memo book이나, ornate pocket ledger,

well-crafted grocery list가 없어져 가는 것에 대한 아무 감흥이 없습니다.

아, 실로 제본된 갱지 수첩같은 걸 보는 느낌일까요?

어쨌든, 'Good Information'을 적기 위한 노트는 충분합니다.

도대체 이 비싼 노트는 어떤 장점이 있는 것일까요? 클래식한 디자인? 네 물론 장점입니다.

하지만 디자인 값이라고 하기에는 받아들이기가 조금 힘이 드네요.

다른 장점을 찾아내서 납득하지 않으면 돈이 너무 아깝다는 느낌이 계속 남을 것 같습니다.

한 권에 3000원 하는 클레르 퐁텐 노트의, 48매 96 페이지의 90g/㎡ 두툼한 종이가

제게는 이미 표준으로 자리잡았으니까요.

저는 저기 써 있는 30가지의 사용례 중 특히 '탈출 경로'와 '보물 지도'에 초점을 맞추도록 하겠습니다.

사실, 해외의 다른 블로거들이 특히 강조한 장점 중에도 항상 내구성이 있었고

노트 표지에도 떡하니 내구성 있는 재료를 썼다고 되어 있으니 말이죠.

자세히 보면, 용례로 나온 것들도 대부분 가방 없이 대충 주머니에 쑤셔 넣어 가지고 다니며

쓸 수 있는 것들이 많습니다.

권당 약 4600원이니,

음.. 제 생각에는 적어도 한 3500원 어치의 내구성은 찾아내야 하지 않나 싶습니다.

이 노트를 막 쓰기로 결정하고 보니, 마찬가지로 막 쓸 필기구가 필요합니다.

연필 애호가로서 기쁘기도 하고 슬프기도 한 말입니다만,

막 쓰기에 또 연필만한 것은 없습니다.

그러니까, 안 되죠. 저런 건.

이미 회사에서 제 주머니에는 항상 로디아 No.11 패드와 그라폰 퍼펙트 펜슬이 있어,

언제든지 뭔가 기록해 두어야 할만한 것을 적고 있습니다.

하지만 저 연필은 아무리 실험 정신이 강해도 막 굴리기에는 좀 부담스럽죠.

네. 좀 어울리네요. 하지만 주머니에 막 넣어 다니기에는 역시 그냥 연필은 좀 어렵습니다.

필드 노트 브랜드로 출시된 연필도 있기는 합니다만,

주머니에 막 넣고 다니기 힘든 보통 연필이라는 점은 마찬가지입니다.

이럴 때는 역시, 파버카스텔 UFO 퍼펙트 펜슬.

연필, 지우개, 연필깎이. 이거면 충분합니다. 청바지 주머니에 아무렇게나 넣고 다니더라도

식당에서 자리에 앉을 때 주머니를 뚫고 허벅지에 박혀 대동맥을 절단할 일은 없습니다.

사진에 나온 퍼펙트 펜슬은 이미 막 쓰고 있는 흔적이 남아 있네요.

클립으로 노트에 꽂아 놓으면 출동 준비는 완료입니다.

일단 맨 앞 페이지에 인적사항을 기록해 둡니다. 막 쓰는 노트답게, 주워서 돌려주시면

천원 드립니다.

2009년 9월 21일부터 쓰기 시작한 저의 필드 노트는,

오늘 미해병대 MARPAT 바지의 건빵 주머니에 넣어져 출동합니다.

이 리뷰는 끝이 아닙니다.

적당히 막 굴려서 내구도에 대한 테스트가 끝나는 언젠가, 2부로 다시 돌아오겠습니다.

2009년 9월 21일 월요일

Tombow MONO 100

To ordinary people in Korea, Tombow is very famous by its art eraser and the professional grade pencil, MONO J. They're not aware of Tombow's higher grade pencils like MONO R, MONO and MONO 100.

Today's review item is the MONO 100, the flagship model among MONO lineup of Tombow.





The basic design of MONO 100 has little visual difference with the other members of the MONO family. Like other MONO lineup pencils, gold letters are imprinted. The hardness grade is also imprinted, and it's one of the differences with MONO and MONO R.

The main feature of MONO 100 is the plastic cap. Maybe it's for convenience of using a holder when this expensive pencil is shortened (or, for raising the price). The white part of cap is not painted. It's a seperated piece of plastic.

Well, actually, the purpose of this review WAS to praise the high quality of Tombow MONO 100. I'd never had any intention to say anything uncomplimentary, BEFORE I took some pictures for this posting.

Because of the shadow, it may be hard to you to recognize, but please watch above picture with attention. Did you get it?




The second pencil is bent upward.


A two-US Dollar-pencil is bended like very old vintage pencils - 10 USD for 5 dozen - you can buy on eBay.

I tryed to calm down, and took a photo of the lead end.



Is it OK?



Maybe not...



Off center!

Off center lead - easily found among 1 USD-for-1 dozen pencils - appears on the great stationery company, Tombow's flagship!

Well, if you're disappinted with the quality of pencils made by your local vendors, be hopeful. Even MONO 100, The world class quality pencil has off center lead. Maybe the technology of this world class company is not too hard to get.

Anyway, let's go on.

Like other Japanese quality pencils, case of the MONO 100 is quite lavish. A paper cover wraps the plastic case.


There's a transparent window in the plastic case.



 However, I don't like this kind of pencil case design. It's quite hard to stock on the shelf. I think a wooden case like Palomino's could be a better choice.



In fact, I thought that the grey-colored thing was an eraser, but it's just a paper piece, which occupies space. Maybe it is for protection of the pencil caps, but the increment of cost may be too much.



One dozen of pencils is separated up into 2 layers, and there's a partition to prevent scratching. That partition looks really artless being compared with one of Mitsu-bishi Hi-Uni's.


That's the paper piece that I thought was an eraser.

Though my Japanese is very poor, I can get to know that it's some brag.

Here's my humble translation (partial).

"Thank you for purchasing MONO 100. We increased the required characteristic to the extreme.

 This world best pencil lead contains 10 billion particle in 1 cubic millimeter. Even the MONO, which was loved by many people has only 8 billion particles in 1 cubic millimeter....."


Well, my heart has been already hurted by bent barrel and off center lead.

However, I have to admit the lead of the Tombow MONO 100 is world best class.

Frankly, all MONO-lineup pencils including the cheapest MONO J are great and can compete with other high quality pencils all over the world. MONO R and MONO are quite great pencils to use, so I want to praise Tombow's effort of trying to improve upon greatness.


The hardness grades of MONO 100 are 9H-H, F, HB, B-6B.

I recommend F and HB grade for general writing as you would expect.


Being compared to STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph 100, MONO 100 is a bit lighter. But the gap is hard to see, it's less than half a grade. The quality of the lead itself is absolutely nice. It's quite smooth like other Japanese quality pencils.


Even if you're not a pencil collector, Tombow 100 is worth buying. But carefully select and avoid bent barrel and off center lead!