Tombow 2558 HB

The Tombow 2558 has been a pleasure to write with this week.  Smooth, dark graphite for an HB graded pencil, a nice color coordinated look, and pretty decent graphite durability.

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I didn’t really expect much from an regular old school pencil, but as always Tombow never fails to disappoint.  I found myself entrenched with statistics notes this week and the Tombow came through.  My only complaints were that the graphite, because it was soft, wore down pretty quickly and I required a bit more sharpening than I would have liked.  The eraser on the pencil wore down pretty quickly and left a lot of crumbly shavings, but I did like the nice touch of matching the ferrule with the foil stamping on the pencil.

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I gave this pencil such a high rating because even though it wore down pretty quickly, I could see myself ordering a gross of this pencil and using it every day.  Head over to JetPens if you are interested in picking up a few!20150927_135040

Eberhard Faber Principal 221 F

This week has been quite the experience for me and my pencil adventures.  The EF Principal School Pencil was a pencil that I had been trying to find for years.  Back in the early 90s, I was in high school and while pilfering the supply closet in the classroom, I came across a nice crisp box of these guys:

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I distinctly remember using them religiously; they were far superior to all of the other crap pencils I had used and were more aesthetically pleasing than the gross black and some-kind-of-color BIC mechanical pencils that just came out.  I made sure that I kept myself well stocked and often risked punishment by “pretending” I forgot my pen/pencil that day so I could take a trip to the cabinet.  Fast forward 20 years…

I was browsing ebay using the search term “vintage pencils” (of course) and these beauties popped up.  I instantly felt the excitement and wonderment I had felt in my high school days and clicked on “Buy it Now” before I could change my mind.  When they arrived, I couldn’t wait to sharpen one; oh to feel like I felt back when this pencil was the coolest kid on the block.  I had looked forward to using this pencil for an entire week and swore that it would be hard to move on once I finished with my 7 days of use.  I was wrong and in the meantime taught myself a powerful lesson about nostalgia.

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The EF Principal sharpened beautifully and held its point longer than most pencils I have used.  It truly was a great pencil to work with this week since my stats class has been forcing me to take 5+ pages of notes each class.  My excitement quickly faded though when I began to realize that its hardness didn’t match up to what I preferred.  I just didn’t write as smoothly and as dark as I am used to.  The pencil’s second strike came on Wednesday when I was taking notes and began to feel a scratchiness to the graphite.  So much scratchiness that I actually had to scribble the point down and resharpen to get it writing smoothly again.  The third strike was a result of the first two strikes; I just couldn’t seem to write as quickly with this pencil.

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I had to take breaks more often and found myself pushing down a lot harder because I felt as though that would somehow impact the darkness of the graphite (spoiler: it didn’t).  The EF Principal is not a horrible pencil by any means, but it does fall short on many of what I deem to be “pencil necessities” (smoothness and durability).  The positives were great, but they all seemed to be about the form of this pencil and not the function.  Firstly, the foil stamping was nice a crisp and shiny.  The silver foil stamping coupled with the gold ferrule really gave this pencil a unique look.

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The pencil had a nice weight to it and you could just tell it was made with quality materials.  The eraser was a nice bright pink, and erased well (even after 20+ years), but it left way too much dust and debris.  I was quite disappointed that this pencil did not perform the way I remembered, but isn’t that often the way life is anyway?  Things always seemed to be much better than they actually really were because we want them to be that way.  In all actuality, we do this because we yearn for the past and sometimes those objects we have attached to our past hold much more significance in theory than they do in reality.

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Mitsubishi 9852EW HB

Hello folks!  It has been a long week over here at TWP.  Fall semester has started and now that I have had a chance to sort out my workload, I have decided to change the frequency of my postings.  I will still be posting weekly, but just once a week on Saturdays.  I was finding that doing an intro, mid-week and final post really left me scraping for things to write about, so if I just focus on one post a week it should be easier for me (and better quality stuff for you!).  Now, on to the pencil:

20150905_155459_001In 1887, Niroku Masaki founded the Masaki Pencil Manufacturing Company in Shinjuku, Japan.  Masaki set up shop with just ten employees with the intent of creating a pencil with the most superior quality and style.  After World War II, Masaki Pencil Manufacturing Company became Mitsubishi Pencil Manufacturing Company and, well, the rest is history [1].  Over 125 years later Mitsubishi Pencil Company still dominates in quality and aesthetics.  The pencil I used this week seems to be an “Eco Writer” version of the regular 9852 HB.  I really enjoyed the look of the pencil; from the unfinished natural barrel to the “Master Writing” imprint on the side, this pencil is very attractive.  The only thing I hate is the stupid bar code on the side, but that disappears soon enough anyway.

20150905_155429 Sharpening the pencil was a breeze and the graphite core was solid and writing with this pencil reminded me of the way the old “Made in USA” Ticonderogas felt.  The 9852EW is an entry-level sub $1 pencil, so I didn’t expect velvety smooth lines.  The ferrule of the pencil has a brownish chrome tinge to it– something unique that I have never seen before.  The eraser is black and VERY dusty leaving little particles everywhere; it does its job, but poorly.

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Overall, this pencil got me through the first week of classes no problem.  With all of the writing I did throughout the week, the pencil is only a third of the way sharpened.  Point retention is great for such a cheap pencil.  I prefer my pencils to lay graphite a bit darker and smoother, but I was surprised how dark this pencil was considering it was just an HB.  I find that Japanese pencils tend to write on the darker side anyway +/- a few lead grades.  Here are my final thoughts:

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Nataraj Neon Final Thoughts

This week has been quite the experience with the Nataraj.  I went into the week not expecting much since the Nataraj is a budget pencil.  Boy was I wrong.  I have a few gripes with its performance, but let’s get to the positives first.  I am absolutely in love with the colors this pencil comes in.  I seem to be on a neon kick lately, but the colors are vibrant and the matching– although useless– eraser is a nice touch.  The barrel of the pencil has a sharp hexagonal shape and feels good in the hand.

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Writing with the Nataraj is a pleasure; the darkness of the graphite on paper is just the way I like it and it does not feel scratchy or gritty at all.  With the smooth writing comes some drawbacks though.  I had to sharpen the Nataraj constantly (or so it seemed).  For example, I filled up one side of a college-ruled notebook page and I had to sharpen five times.  This is not a scientific observation because I tend to press pretty hard when writing and I always like a sharper point on my pencils.  The softness of the graphite is not a deal breaker for me, but the Nataraj is not a pencil I would turn to when taking notes or writing for long periods of time.  I did use this pencil during my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game and it worked perfectly.

20150905_144955As you can see, the pencil is not made of 100 percent cedar.  That is a negative for me since I like the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil.  Also, if you decide to pick up this pencil, do not use the eraser.  It ripped the paper I was writing on and when it did not rip paper it was all but useless.  In conclusion, if you are looking for an attractive, softer graphite pencil at a budget price, the Nataraj is not a bad choice at all.  Just don’t make it a workhorse pencil because you will be greatly disappointed.