Horses In The Mist

Horses in the Mist

The Fool With a Pen wrote about his pen exile (and exile from purchasing) this week. As is always the case with Mr Fool’s writing it was a great read with many wise points. You should go and take a look if you haven’t already.

For me, the whole point of pens is that they don’t really matter. No-one is going to suffer if they don’t use a lovely pen, no pen is going to change the world for better or for worse. This is how I explain my love for this hobby to anyone who is silly enough to ask. This explanation is usually met with a funny look and swift change of subject.

It’s this lack of importance, in the grand scheme of things, that makes it a distraction for me. I get wound up by politics so quickly I have to generally avoid getting involved. My day job is difficult, really does mean a lot to me and is, I think, important. When it all gets a bit too much I like to escape for a few minutes by writing with a lovely pen precisely because, in the end, they don’t actually matter. They are simply a source of delight in an often depressing world.


This week’s picture is a very quick sketch I did one misty morning while I was waiting for some students to arrive. It was a beautiful morning.

I’d like to thank Pocket Notebooks for sponsoring the site again this month. They’re not paying for me to say this today but I really appreciate their help and they offer a great service to those of us who love notebooks and live in the UK.

On Monday I reviewed what’s currently my favourite mechanical pencil.

Also on Monday we published a meta-review of the Diplomat Aero over at United Inkdom.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW review

Mitsubishi 9852EW Wooden Pencil Review

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW review

The Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW is a rare beast: a Japanese pencil with an eraser. It’s reasonably priced and is for Master Writing, whatever that is.

Price: $1.30 (USA)
Lead grade options: HB
Barrel colours: Natural
Barrel shape: Hexagonal
Eraser?: Yes

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW Master Writing

This pencil looks gorgeous. It’s a natural finish with crisp green writing on three sides. One side has the usual ugly looking barcode but apart from that it’s lovely. The ferrule is a foxy looking purple and the eraser is black.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW eraser

Japanese pencils don’t generally come with erasers and although this one looks great it doesn’t work so well. It’s crumbly and doesn’t erase particularly efficiently, being quite smeary.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW backside

The pencil keeps its point well. It’s a little gritty now and then when writing but not too bad for this price.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW pointy bit

It hadn’t sharpened too cleanly when I took the pictures but that was as much due to the sharpener I was using (a KUM Long Point) than the pencil itself.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW sharpening

The 9852EW is a fantastic looking pencil that holds it’s own when it comes to writing but is let down a little by the eraser, which fails to combine good looks with good work. Beauty and efficiency, such rare bedfellows.

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW resting


Beautiful natural finish
Great looking ferrule and eraser


Eraser isn’t great

Mitsu-Bishi 9852EW handwritten review

Pentel GraphGear 1000 review

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel GraphGear 1000 review

Pentel make some wonderful mechanical pencils. The Twist uses the best eraser mechanism there is, the P200 series is one of the best budget pencils and the Graph 1000 has been my top pick for quite some time. Until now.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 size indicator

Price: £12.50 (UK), $16.50 (USA)
Lead size options: 0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Barrel options: aluminium with grip and lettering coloured according to lead size
Size: 15cm (6″) long, 9.5mm (0.4″) diameter
Weight: 113g (4oz)

Let’s start at the top and work along. The lead size is marked on the very end: 0.5mm (marked as “.5”) in this case. The GraphGear 1000 comes in five different sizes, each one of which is colour coded. Beneath the end cap is the eraser, which is bigger than some but still small. At least it erases properly.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 eraser

Next we have the clip and it is wonderful. It’s hinged and spring loaded, meaning it will easily and very securely clip onto just about anything you’d want.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 clip

Running alongside the clip is the branding, which is precise and to the point. The barrel itself is a simple aluminium tube.

At the transition between the body and the grip is the lead grade indicator. This runs for 2B to 2H, which is a little limited. At least there’s a blank spot so if you’re using a different lead you don’t have to have the indicator showing something incorrect. There’s nothing worse than that.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 grip

The grip is knurled aluminium with soft gel-like protuberances. This combination is very grippy without being at all uncomfortable. It’s very effective and it looks good too.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 lead pipe

Finally, but most importantly, there is the tip, which is retractable. It’s extended by pressing the end cap and retracted by pressing the clip. Both actions involve solid and very satisfying clicks. The lead pipe is very stable: not a hint of a wobble or wibble. Deploying it does not extend the lead any further, a second press is needed. This is good because there’s no need to retract the lead itself when you retract the tip. It retracts enough to hide the lead too. If you’ve read many of my previous mechanical pencil reviews you’ll know how happy this makes me. It means the pencil can be safely stored in a pocket or a case but be instantly ready to use and then instantly put away afterwards, without any messing about.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 retracted tip

I could (and did) complain about the eraser and the limited grade indicator but they would be small complaints in the context of a pencil that gets everything else absolutely right. The clip, the retractable tip and the grip are all the best I’ve found on a mechanical pencil. The Pentel GraphGear 1000 is almost perfect.


Excellent grip
Fantastic retractable tip mechanism
Outstanding clip


Eraser a little small

You can find some more reviews of the Pentel GraphGear 1000 on Pennaquod.

Thank you very much to Cult Pens for sending me this pen to review. These are my honest opinions.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 handwritten review

Lambikins (sketch)


My daughter wanted me to draw her favourite teddy so I did. Lambikins has been through a lot but still manages a smile.

Daler-Rowney Artists (watercolour) pencils, Caran d’Ache Technalo water-soluble pencils, Winsor & Newton Bockington paper