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General’s Badger #2

Sometimes using fancy pencils spoils you when you have to revert back to cheaper pencils.  And sometimes you really wish that you strategically planned out your pencil choices so massive disappointment did not happen.  Even further, you wish that there was some sort of “palate cleanser” pencil to use for a day or two to get your mind off of the joy that was enveloping you the previous week.  Unfortunately, I am human and am subject to bias and extreme subjectivity.  That does not mean I still didn’t have a good time writing this week, it was just that I as underwhelmed.

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This week, I randomly selected my pencil and the General’s Badger was the lucky guy to get chosen.  I really love the name of the Badger and equally love the classic yellow hexagonal barrel and green foil imprint.  The Badger has a nice weight to it and sharpened up perfectly with no breakage or crumbling.  The cedar smell was nice– not as intense as I prefer– but it was there.

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I have quite the soft spot for General Pencil Co. since they are based out of my home state of New Jersey and was excited to put graphite to paper (note: the Badger is manufactured in Shelbyville, TN).  My statistics class always gives me a challenge since I not only have to write notes, but draw bell curves and formulas.  Writing with the 211 last week was amazing and a hell of a lot easier on my hand and wrist (I tend to press a bit hard when writing).  Well, this is where my earlier statement about being spoiled comes in.  After a page of writing, my hand was killing me!  It was not the darkness of the graphite, but the smoothness of the writing.  I do not write in cursive (I don’t know how to anymore sadly) so I do realize that printing doesn’t allow for as much fluidity as script does, but I found myself not able to keep up.  I will say that the graphite was not gritty, but just not smooth (if that makes any sense).  The eraser on the Badger is effective, but very dusty and wears away quickly.  Performance aside, I really am in love with the look of the Badger.

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At around 75 cents a pencil, this performs as it should for a budget pencil.  The Badger wore down at a slow enough pace that I only had to sharpen every 2 pages (B5 size).  This pencil will go on my maybe list for a bulk buy and while there is nothing really wrong with this pencil, do not use it after using a Blackwing.  Overall 7/10.

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Palomino Blackwing 211

This week has been the best pencil week ever!  I had been dying to get my hands on the limited edition Blackwing 211 since it sold out a week after release.  Thankfully, the pencil community came through and my pencil pal Andi sent me a few to review.  Andi has a blog as well and you should definitely check it out!  So now on to the 211:

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One can see the sheer beauty of the 211 as its natural wood-grain contrasts with its gold ferrule and brown eraser.  The barrel of the pencil is nice and smooth and the black stamping is perfect and precise.  I could not wait to sharpen this pencil!  I sharpened the 211 with my usual tool, the Palomino Long Point Sharpener.

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As you can see, I love how sharp the slats appear after sharpening– this pencil is really a beauty.  All aesthetics aside, let’s get to the writing portion of the review.  I had a lot of note-taking this week for my classes and the Blackwing 211 came through.  Point retention is amazing and the pencil writes so velvety smooth that I almost did not want to ever review another pencil again.  I had no trouble with point breakage in the sharpener and by the end of my busy week, I still had so much pencil left to use.  It could be surmised that this pencil would last one for two weeks with pretty consistent writing which makes the price of this pencil worth it.

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The above picture is the pencil length after 7 solid days of use.  Not only is the Blackwing 211 photogenic, but she’s useful too!  The only way you can come across this pencil is finding an odd retailer that still has some in stock or on Ebay.  Fret not though because I have been told that the graphite is the same as the Blackwing 602, a pencil that is always available.  No, you will not have this gorgeous wood-grain version, but to me a pencil’s utility is worth more than what it looks like.  Still, you can’t help but marvel in the 211’s glory. Overall 10/10!

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*For any of you wondering how you can get your hands on these awesome Blackwing limited edition pencils, you can sign up for a Volumes subscription here.

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Koh-i-Noor Toison D’or 1900 Series 2B

The Toison D’or 1900 is quite the beauty.  Its hexagonal barrel is painted with a glossy black lacquer and had a cream colored stripe at the top where the lead hardness is located.  The stamping is gold foil and really pops out against the black of the pencil.  20151005_124927

The darkness of the graphite is just perfect and glides smoothly over the paper.  My only complaint is that this pencil is super light– as in weight– and it took a lot of getting used to.  I usually do not put my pencil caps on the top of the pencil when they are not in use, but as you can see in the above picture, I had to because it felt odd to have something in my hand that did not weigh much.  The Toison D’or erases wonderfully and does not smear at all.  This was great for me because drawing bell curves in stats class is not something I am good at.  🙂

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As I got to the end of the pencil, I ran into some troubles with the graphite core while sharpening.  I am not sure if it is just the sharpener I am using (Palomino Long Point), but the graphite just snaps right off in the sharpener and I have to waste about a quarter inch of the pencil re-sharpening.  This problem is not a deal breaker for me, but it is definitely annoying.  Overall: 7/10

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Nataraj 621 Ruby HB

I was really excited to experience the Nataraj 621 since I had read over at CW Pencils that it was a great, cheap pencil that held its point fairly well.  I had already reviewed a Nataraj pencil before (the Neon) and found that it wore down pretty easily, but I enjoyed the smoothness of the pencil and the unique wood grain.20150927_140645

I had sharpened the Ruby up and was off.  The writing was great!  Smooth and a nice darkness for an HB pencil.  Then came time to sharpen her again.  I was using my Blackwing Long-Point sharpener and after exposing the wood and moving onto sharpener two, the lead broke right off.  OK.  These things happen.  Sharpened it again, get to stage two and then the point broke off again.  Hmmm.  Third time was a charm, but I was pretty disappointed that I had to sacrifice almost 2 inches of pencil to get a solid point.  I understand that these things happen and I tried not to dwell on it.  After that one incident the pencil had no more issues, but I ran out of pencil before the week was over.  I did not have another, so I just started on next week’s pencil (I’m not telling).  Here is what I was left with by Friday (I had started using the pencil on a Sunday):

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I would be willing to give this pencil a shot again, but due to the nature of my experience and how quickly the graphite wore for me, I definitely do not see the Nataraj 621 becoming an every day pencil.  Overall 4/10.