Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil Review

The Dixon Ticonderoga represents the iconic American pencil with its yellow lacquer and pink eraser. I was sent this pencil by Priya from The London Parchment, along with some other goodies, and I immediately started using it to see how it compared to my favourite pencils.

Iconic design

As mentioned this pencil design screams AMERICA! It's everything I would associate with American basic stationery. In Europe we don't really have any solid yellow lacquer pencils therefore the Ticonderoga is a novelty. The standard European school grade pencil is the Staedtler Noris with its bumblebee yellow and black striped design but this feels completely different to the Ticonderoga.

The barrel has a bright and vibrant yellow lacquer with the branding printed in a metallic green. The green is supposed to match the ferrule, however the colours are completely different. In part this is due to the cheap and poorly made ferrule which has a rubbish paint job letting down the overall design. The final element of the pencil, the classic pink eraser, stands out against the rest of the pencil.

That ugly green ferrule!

That ugly green ferrule!

This iconic pencil design renders this pencil a bit of a classic. Its bold and vibrant colour scheme is iconic and because of this I have a degree of fondness for this pencil. The other Ticonderogas I've seen shared in the Erasable Facebook groups with black or brightly coloured barrels don't appeal to me in the same way and take away from the novelty of this classic American pencil.

Pencil performance

Graphite comparison

Graphite comparison

I am impressed by how the Ticonderoga writes, which I wasn't expecting. It has a light grey graphite and good point retention, two things I like from a pencil. It feels less like a HB grade pencil and more like an F grade pencil.

On the downside the eraser is poor, so poor that it doesn’t serve a useful purpose at all. It would be more beneficial to remove it completely, or else replace it with a better eraser. It just feels unnecessary.

In terms of the wood I am not entirely sure what is used to make the Ticonderogas but it is not the same level of quality that can be seen with Blackwings or Staedtlers. The Ticonderoga wood is pale and reminded me a little of the Wopex. Regardless of this these pencils sharpen fairly well and the ones I own have a well centred graphite.

The very light wood on the Dixon Ticonderoga reminded me of the Wopex

The very light wood on the Dixon Ticonderoga reminded me of the Wopex

Overall thoughts

The Ticonderoga is an average pencil, but then it's supposed to be. My enjoyment of this pencil centres around the iconic American design rather than actually being a high performing pencil. It’s not a pencil I will have multiples of, which is handy as being in the UK I can’t get hold of these easily.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to Priya for sending me over this pencil to test. Without her generosity I wouldn’t have come by one of these pencils at all.

A Love of Kawecos

My Kaweco Sport fountain pen collection

My Kaweco Sport fountain pen collection

The Kaweco Classic Sport was one of the first fountain pens I bought many moons ago when rekindling my love of stationery and was actually my first fountain pen review here at The Finer Point. The Kaweco Sport appealed to me due to its low price and pocket size. I didn’t particularly have a requirement for a small fountain pen but it was novel and something I hadn’t seen before. I bought the blue Kaweco Classic Sport with an EF nib and since then I have found my Kaweco Sport collection has grown quite a bit.

This isn’t anything particularly surprising. Many stationery or fountain pen enthusiasts have multiples of the same item. If a brand releases a special edition, a new colour or the user requires several different nib sizes then it is common to have multiples of the same pen. I just never expected mine to the Kaweco Sport range.

Blue Classic Sport, Mint Skyline Sport, ART Sport, Grey AL Sport, Mint Skyline Sport fountain pens

Blue Classic Sport, Mint Skyline Sport, ART Sport, Grey AL Sport, Mint Skyline Sport fountain pens

I have the following fountain pens in my collection:

  • Kaweco Classic Sport in Blue with an EF nib
  • Kaweco ART Sport with an EF nib
  • Kaweco Skyline in Mint - one B nib and one EF nib
  • Kaweco AL Sport in grey with a F nib

This isn’t the biggest collection in the world by some standards, however owning multiples of the same pen, with the same nib does seem a bit crazy. Ultimately I am attracted by the shiny new colours and end up buying another version. For example there is now a purple, pink, white and a red version of the Kaweco Sport and I have an itch to grab these and add them to my collection. These new colours have been released in quick succession, perhaps Kaweco are copying Lamys strategy and hoping these additional colour options will generate more buzz and give this range of pens a boost.

The different barrel materials can be justified and I was very surprised by how different the AL Sport felt in comparison to my other Kaweco Sport fountain pens. In fact this may be my favourite version. On a side note Fontoplumo recently shared on their Instagram page a light blue AL Sport which I will have to have. It’s just too gorgeous not to include it in my collection.

There are of course cost implications to owning multiples of the same fountain pen. Kaweco Sport pens can be categorised as affordable ranging from £18-£95. I have acquired my Kaweco Sports over a number of years. As these releases are not limited editions but part of the basic Kaweco line-up I have not rushed into buying any of these fountain pens but rather acquired them over a period of time. I still don't own an AC Sport, Ice or Brass models but they are included on the list.

My love of Kawecos is fine by me, I could have a worse fountain pen addiction. The small size of these pens, the well performing nibs and the gorgeous colours that Kaweco have released all contributed to my love of these pens. I will more than likely continue to acquire additional Kaweco fountain pens and perhaps expand the different nibs I have, but what is certain is that these fountain pens will be a staple in my stationery addiction.

Jet Pens did a great Kaweco Classic Sport run down which can be found here, be sure to check it out.

Do you have multiples of the same fountain pens and if so what is your weakness?

Retro 51 Ocean Slim Tornado Ballpoint Pen Review

The Retro 51 Ocean Slim Tornado is a new addition and part of Retro 51’s 2016 line up. This is my first foray into the world of Retro 51 Tornado pens. Before now I never found a Tornado that captured my attention enough to buy it, or pay a premium price for a pen I hadn't used or wasn't sure I would like (I'm looking at you Surfin').

Anyway focusing now on the Ocean Slim Tornado there are some real highlights to this pen. Firstly the slim barrel of is a big seller for me. I think the standard Tornados would be too wide and generally I don’t like fat pens as I find them uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. The slim versions of the Tornado are more of a standard pen width and therefore better suited to me.

Cool design

The design of this pen is something I was really drawn to. In addition to the Ocean colour there is a Graphite and Electron (a darker blue). On close inspection of each colour they have a slightly different pattern on the barrel. Viewing this online I wasn’t sure if this was etched into the pen, or just a printed pattern. It turns out it is only printed. The Ocean design is fab and I love the colours used. The only aspect I don’t like is the end of the pen. The change of material and the colour used here breaks up the seemless fade on the barrel. It's almost like Retro 51 had some trouble achieving the desired finish. It’s not too noticeable but it's not the perfect finish.

I really like the packaging of the Retro 51’s. The box that the Ocean Slim arrives in really is very cool and gives a great first impression. The tag line - ‘Life’s too short to carry an ugly pen’ is fab. It’s a really nice little branding touch. Normally I am not bothered by pen packaging, but I do appreciate the thought that companies spend on packaging. To me it shows consideration of the whole product and it helps set the tone of then pen you have bought. The box is so nice it could double up as a presentation box sitting proudly on your desk.

Very cool Retro 51 packaging

Very cool Retro 51 packaging

The Refill

This pen comes with a Schmidt REF71 ballpoint refill. The Tornado refills tend to get some good write ups, and as ballpoint refills go its good. The thing is I am just not a fan of a ballpoint refill when they are some really great alternative options.

A deconstructed Slim Tornado  

A deconstructed Slim Tornado  

The below photo shows how the refill performs. You get a nice black line on the page and it is a smooth writer. This refill has a wider line than I would like, around 0.7mm. You can however swap out this refill for a G2 refill (check out Ana’s amazing Epic Refill Guide for a list of compatible refills). After using the ballpoint for some time and giving it a chance I will definitely be finding an alternative option or perhaps even trying a refill hack. This will vastly improve my enjoyment of this pen and put it in the realm of the Karas Kustoms Render K.

A written review using the Schmidt REF71 refill

A written review using the Schmidt REF71 refill

Twist don’t click

The one element of the Tornado that I wasn’t expecting is the twist action to get the refill to appear. I was expecting the knock to click down like many other ballpoint pens, however the Tornado’s distinctive knurled knock is actually a twist mechanism. Who knew!

Overall impressions

I really like this pen. It’s a great design and the slim barrel works really well. It has become a pen that I carry with me on the move and use in my Leuchtuem1917 pen loop as it fits in snugly. The downside for me is the refill. This issue can be fixed very easily by swapping it out for a refill I know I will enjoy. I can see why there is hype around the Retro 51 pens and why people enjoy the limited editions and various colours available. For me I don't think I will be adding other Retro 51's to my pen collection, however I am pleased I own this one and will enjoy using it.

The Ocean Slim Tornado used in my Leuchtturm1917 pen look in my Travelers Notebook

The Ocean Slim Tornado used in my Leuchtturm1917 pen look in my Travelers Notebook

Travelers Notebook Passport Use Update

I have been carrying a passport sized Travelers Notebook for some time now. It is my everyday notebook and the one thing that is with me at all times. As I mentioned in a previous post my love of the passport size surprised me having written it off as too small. However after trying out this system again I now love using this size notebook and the Travelers Notebook set up in general.

Today's post is focused on providing an update on my set up and how I am using this system.

Notebook 1 - my first notebook is a Baron Fig ruled pocket notebook. This notebook holds all my lists, notes and any reminders. It also serves as an on the go journal. Working from the back I jot down thoughts, observations or anything journal worthy. I have found this helpful as I don't have to have my dedicated long form journal with me when I am on the move, but I still get to capture anything which could be insightful or useful later on.

Notebook 2 - my Midori monthly calendar serves as a personal calendar. I like the full month view. I can see what appointments I have coming up and where I have free time.

Notebook 3 - this is the Midori Sketchbook insert and I have had this in my passport Travelers Notebook for some time. The idea was to try and sketch things whilst on the move but I have not done this as much as I'd hoped. I have some interesting doodles in here and when I get the time or remember I have really enjoyed using this insert.

Fourrouf pouch - this was on my wish list for some time and a lovely colleague of my husband picked one up for me when visiting Japan. I really love the sky blue colour, it's gorgeous. There are some things that really surprised me with the Fourrouf pouch. It's more lightweight than I expected and the zipper is really bulky. I actually quite miss the clear Midori zipper pouch as I used to have photos in there which I could see each time I opened the notebook. Anyhow this is a lovely pouch and I use it to hold small things such as stamps, a little emergency cash and washi tape.

Final thoughts
This system really works well for me. The calendar continues to be my biggest surprise as I never expected to go back to an analogue time management format but it's working. Without this I would now be lost and have no idea where I would need to be at any time. The sketchbook is the one thing over that could change over the next few weeks. It's bulky and my use of this notebook has been minimal therefore carrying it around all the time doesn't really make sense. Instead my plan is to sketch in my regular sized Travelers Notebook. Having only two notebooks in here would make it a lot slimmer and lighter to carry around.

I'd love to hear how you use your passport sized Travelers Notebooks and how many notebooks you use at any one time.