The Golden Bear is Palomino's "school grade" standard pencil. Made of cedar, it's a step up from the Prospector, and I definitely got that impression from my experience with it. Review below:
Wow - this lead is really dark! Compared to the Prospector, the Golden Bear's lead is smoother, denser, and darker. Definitely a great first impression.
Fit/Finish: When I sharpened it up, the pencil's wood splintered a little bit, leading to the "split" you can see below. The core itself is well-centered, though, so I didn't have any worse sharpening woes. As with the Prospector, this one has a sharply cornered hexagonal barrel. The ferrule and foil stamping are applied well, and the pencil gives an impression of high quality all-around. I especially enjoy the orange-and-blue design, as a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign :)
Performance: Smooth and dark. Point retention does not, however, suffer as a result. The graphite does smear a bit, though, but no more than the much lighter-writing Prospector. I like writing with the Golden Bear. How about erasing?
All right, looks like I'll need to carry around that Staedtler then!
Overall: This pencil is most certainly in a different lead class than the Prospector, but the wood splintering and eraser performance bring down an otherwise stellar example of American pencil making. They're available for $2.95/dozen.
hi-res images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjZVp5kF
Here we have the first of the Palomino sampler pack, the natural wood finish (with lacquer) Prospector. Made of basswood, it's actually pretty easy to sharpen, and the starkly cornered hexagonal barrel, reminiscent of the Dixon Eldorado, makes for a great grip.
Fit/Finish: Though this is positioned at the bottom of Palomino's line, it's well-made, with uniform foil stamping and a securely attached ferrule. The lacquering does not make the pencil too slippery, and ensures that the wood will not attract dirt over time. A natural look with a painted-barrel feel.
Performance: I haven't gotten any hard spots in the graphite [but got a minor one after finishing the review, nothing as bad as a Ticonderoga though], and point retention seems to be good too. Very pleasantly surprised with this pencil's performance. This one does smear a bit though, making it less than ideal for journaling or notebooks in general. I think it's time for an erasability test!
The back-of-pencil eraser is certainly average, crumbling quite a bit and ghosting. The Staedtler had no problems.
Overall: For $1.95/dozen, this pencil is a definite step-up from the standard-issue Papermate Classic or Dixon Ticonderoga it is meant to replace. While it is no drawing pencil, it's great for school and general writing, and American-made to boot!
hi-res images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjZVmSiP
Normally when you think of a drafting pencil, a knurled grip, metal (or lookalike plastic), and starkly utilitarian design come to mind. But, with their nicely contoured, wood-bodied S20, Pilot has proven that beauty and function can coexist in a drafting pencil.
Fit/Finish: The wooden outer shell is not heavily finished, making it look and feel very natural. Gripping the pencil is comfortable given the very slightly flared out grip section, and the 4mm fixed sleeve ensures precision and reduced lead breakage. Branding is minimal, appearing only discreetly on the clip and center band. I especially enjoy the clip's attachment to the pencil's body - rather than two "prongs" that each go about halfway around the pencil, this one has one prong going nearly all the way, lending it a modern look. The only gripe I have is that the lead advance button is made of plastic - at this price point, a metal cap would have been nice. Eraser is your standard-issue "extreme emergency use only" fare, and can be extended slightly thanks to the metal holder.
Performance: The mechanism is rock-solid, and the three-point metal clutch holds the lead firmly. Using this pencil for any amount of time is a breeze because of its shape and relatively light weight - the balance point is close to the middle, too, making for a comfortable experience though pages of writing.
Overall: This pencil is one I held off on buying for a few months due to its $30+ price point, but when I saw it for $21 on Amazon, I sprung, and I think that anyone looking for an elegant, well-performing, precision writing instrument should too. MADE IN JAPAN.
Rating: 4.99/5 (-0.01 for the plastic lead advance button)
hi-res images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1yWQJF
Today we'll have a look at one of my favorite pens, a fountain pen no less. The Lamy logo is a simple, no-frills cartridge converter pen from the German marque more famous for its timeless Safari and 2000 writing instrument families, and is a fine example of the Bauhaus-inspired "form follows function" design philosophy. I thoroughly enjoy using this pen with the Lamy Turquoise ink you see here [below].
Hi-res images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1wUKe8
Fit/Finish: Excellent, as can be expected from Lamy. The cap snaps on firmly, and posts just as securely, making the pen equally suited for posted or non-posted writing. It is not a flashy pen, but nevertheless it's an elegant and attractive design that seems timeless, equally at home in a classroom or a boardroom.
Performance: I have had mixed results with Lamy nibs in the past, and am happy to report that this one, despite being a (European) fine, writes very smoothly. Though there is a bit of feedback, it is not scratchy. The nib's "sweet spot" is very forgiving as well, and it writes well from the moment you touch the nib to paper. The feed keeps the ink flowing - rarely do I have any problems with skipping or hard starts. (Using a Lamy ink certainly doesn't hurt.)
Overall: I thoroughly enjoy using the Lamy logo for everything from quick notes to essays, and at this price, it's a great deal. A wide variety of nib options is available online, and they are very easily exchanged. If you like fountain pens and don't mind Lamy's proprietary cartridges, this is for you!
link to hi-res images: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjZNzJ51
Here I have a set of special pencils I'd like to share with you all. I found them at an estate sale earlier this summer, and was very pleasantly surprised at the condition and completeness of the set. Without further delay, I present to you the Venus Col-Erase set of 24 erasable colored pencils. Made by Faber-Castell in the USA in what I guess to be the late 80s, these pencils' current incarnations can be found in the Prismacolor Col-Erase.
Apart from the erasers, which have long since petrified, the pencils are in tip-top shape. All but one of them are unsharpened!
Below are some more pictures I took of them. I plan on keeping them in great condition; I've got plenty other colored pencils I can use, and these are just in too good condition to use. Enjoy!
link to hi-res images: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1kVqBJ
A true American icon, the classic Space Pen needs no introduction. Since I was already a fan of the Bullet Space Pen, I knew the actual astronaut model would be a great addition to my collection. This is the same pen flown aboard the Apollo missions, and was developed independently by Paul C. Fisher in the late 1960s.
Fit/Finish: Upon opening the gift box and seeing the gleaming chrome of the AG7, you realize that his is about as far from a typical ballpoint you can get. The mechanism is a classic button-on-the-side retractor - and it feels very solid, with a satisfying click upon operation. The clip is plenty tight, with a very "space-age" styled engraving of the pen's make and model. At the middle of the body, the engraving "AG7 SPACE PEN by FISHER ... USA ---" can be seen, and the textured spiral grip etched into the bottom of the pen makes for a controlled writing experience. The pen is quite top-heavy, similar to a woodcase pencil with eraser, so keep that in mind.
Performance: The #PR4 black medium refill which ships with the pen is smooth and lays down a consistent line. Fisher's marketing claims it lasts for 2-3 miles of writing, and it took me about 4 years of use to run the one in my Bullet Space Pen dry. This pen, while thin, has more heft and length than the Bullet Pen and is therefore more suited to long writing sessions. I personally have no issues with the thin diameter and top-heavy build, but that's definitely something to consider when purchasing this pen. Try before you buy!
Overall: This pen is classic, and the build quality ensures that it stays that way. Unlike some other pens/pencils that have fallen from grace (i.e. Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph, Dixon Ticonderoga, Rotring brand), this AG7 is still made in the USA to the high standards that earned it its official NASA pen title. I got mine for $35 from Amazon, and am glad I did.
The first thing you notice about this pencil is its heft - certainly more than your standard wooden pencil. This one, according to Staedtler's packaging, is 70% wood; my guess is that WOPEX stands for "Wood Plastic Extruded," in classic German acronym fashion.
link to hi-res images: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1ihfnD
Fit/Finish: This pencil feels nice in the hand, and the glossy green paint isn't too slippery either. Foil stamping on the body is clean and uniform, and the model # / barcode stamping on the opposite side of the barrel is too. Unlike other plastic pencils, this one doesn't bend easily or look pink (I'm looking at you, Sanford Eagle).
Performance: The line, while a bit lighter than a standard HB, is quite acceptable nonetheless. The point doesn't seem to wear down as quickly as a standard pencil, either, and the factory sharpening (which is what I'm working with) is plenty for a few pages. (I wrote a page before doing this review.) Time for an erasability test!
This one is a bit more difficult to erase than your standard pencil but is still not bad.
Overall: I like this pencil's performance, looks, and heft; it's an interesting experiment from Staedtler and a good one. The lightness of line isn't totally my cup of tea but the lead doesn't smear either. At $5 for 18 pencils, it's a pretty good deal. I got mine at Staples, and I highly recommend giving them a try.
Ah, the smell of that freshly sharpened cedar! Before you even start using the pencil, its fragrance makes itself known. As you'll see from the pictures, this Cedar Pointe is well-loved, and for good reason--I love it!
Performance: The lead is a little light for an HB in my opinion, but this gives the pencil excellent point-retention, making it great for writing purposes. The eraser, while quite crumbly, does the job OK, and general erasability is good too. (erasability test)
This pencil is ideal for journaling and writing in notebooks, as it does not readily smear.
Overall: This pencil is a must-have for anyone who appreciates fine writing instruments. From its cosmetic appearance to its superior, smooth-writing lead, you cannot go wrong with the General's Cedar Pointe. And as a bonus, it's proudly made in the USA!
Link to hi-res images here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1gD8X8
Fit/Finish: Simply excellent. The natural finish of the wood has no lacquering, so it's extremely easy to grip (even if you have sweaty hands). The two halves of each pencil match closely grain-wise, and this attention to detail speaks ot the quality of this pencil. Lead is well-centered, allowing for an even point all-around, and the eraser and ferrule are securely attached.
A Review of the Classic, Round Pencil.
(click images for flickr link)
For the first post on this website, I thought I'd review the venerable Papermate Mirado Black Warrior. I've been using versions of this pencil since I was a kid in elementary school, and it was definitely one of the first "good" pencils I used - a definite step-up from the Dixon #2.
Since the move of all Papermate production to outside the US, the Black Warrior underwent a couple of major changes:
--> graphite more rough
-->paint now matte black as opposed to glossy
Even still, the new Mexican-made Black Warrior still satisfies, with relatively uniform foil stamping and no paint chipping near the ferrule, a problem seen on earlier, US made examples. The paint on the ferrule itself is uniform as well, with the trademark red ring prominent. The ferrule on this particular example does, however, sit a bit above the clearly indented original location, which is a bit odd.
The core is, while a bit rough, not very "scratchy" and lays down a relatively dark line. Point retention is very good, and I'll post a before-and-after shot of the point writing this page (8.5"x11" standard). The round shape and matte finish make this an easy pencil to write with for long pieces, and the point retention definitely encourages just that.
The familiar Pink Pearl eraser on the back of the pencil is average, but erasability in general is strong: [eraser test].
Overall: At $3/dozen on Amazon, this is definitely a worthwhile pencil to pick up. 4/5.