One of the biggest complaints invoked whenever I buy some new pencils is that I cannot trust the hardness grades inscribed by the manufacturers.
Of course, you may have your own definition of the HB or No. 2 grade.
So you may have experienced that it actually felt like B or H grade although the inscription says it's HB grade.
Regardless of the fact that the graphite pencil was invented hundreds of years ago, the real criteria of hardness grades does not exist. Furthermore, frequently different brands of pencils produced by the same manufacturer have different hardness grades marked on the same lead.
Personally, this makes me very annoyed, so I think there should be some kind of standard of graphite pencil hardness grades, but it seems it's almost impossible. Having said that, I decided to make my own criteria. That is, determining a brand of pencil as the standard, and comparing the hardness with that pencil when I obtain some new ones. I believe that this will help myself and you.
The standard pencil MUST be able to be obtained easily all over the world, not be very expensive and come in wide range of various grades. And most of all, its hardness grade should not be very different from the industry norm.
Then, the only appropriate one is,
STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph 100.
Of course, Faber-Castell Castell 9000 is also a good quality and acceptably priced pencil, but surprisingly, it's a bit harder to obtain in come places, and in particular, the hardness grades do not match to the industry norm although it has the fame of being the first hexagonal pencil.
STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph is easy to buy all over the world, the price is acceptable, and its hardness grades are really acceptable to us (or at least, to me.)
STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph 100 comes in range of 16 grades, 6H ~ H, F, HB, B ~ 8B.
Among those 16 grades, I selected the commonly-used 14 of 6H ~ H, F, HB, B ~ 6B to be reviewed.
Mars Lumograph 100 is the flagship wood-cased pencil made by the reputable stationery company STAEDTLER, and of course, the quality is great and never disappoints.
I think it is really proper to be the standard.
The bar-code and model number are printed on the back with white color, not silver.
The model number of Mars Lumograph is 100, which implies the top score and usually means the perfection or completeness in Asia.
The design of the paper package is very simple and the wordings on it are written in various languages for selling in various countries. As a Korean, I'm a bit disappointed because there's no Korean language description on it. Well, I think it may show you the state of wood-cased pencil in this country.
The hardness grade is printed on the top and side of the package.
Well, another factor to be concerned with is the paper. By the same criteria used to select the standard pencil, I chose the 80g/㎡ high grade vellum paper of Rhodia note pad.
For all test writing for each grade, I sharpened the pencils with STAEDTLER 512 001 hand sharpener and erased some test writings with STAEDTLER Mars Plastic - Yes, it's the standard eraser -.
You can see the magnified pictures of individual grades here.
It's really fortunate that we can find the one can be 'The Standard'.
All the test writings for the pencils that I will review will be written on Rhodia paper and the hardness grades will be compared with STAEDTLER Mars Lumograph.
Above is the picture of the old version of Lumograph. To my eyes, current design is better.
Having plenty of quality pencils always makes me happy.
(For my taste, the F, HB and B grades are perfect for general writing. Yeah, that's the standard.)