Namiki What?

Namiki Pencil Boxes

When you start venturing into the world of fountain pens, you don’t have to stroll too far to run into all kinds of Pilot-Namiki pens. From the disposable Varsity to the very affordable MR (Metropolitan) all the way up to high-end Maki-e works of art, there’s a Pilot-Namiki pen for every taste and budget. I own several Vanishing Points, a couple of Preras, a handful of Metropolitans, and a Custom 74 and have yet to be disappointed by any of them, no matter the price. Pilot-Namiki is a brand that I trust implicitly.

Namiki Grance

A week or so ago, an email arrived from Anderson Pens featuring an intriguing photo and a link to some Namiki mechanical pencils. Namiki what?? Pencils?? Yes, pencils. I clicked the link, and tumbled down THAT rabbit hole headfirst.

Namiki Impressions and Grance

Isn’t that how it goes? One minute you don’t even know a thing exists, then the next minute you HAVE TO have it. Especially if it’s gorgeous. And New Old Stock. And Namiki. And sold by the Andersons.

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The Namiki Grance mechanical pencil (0.5 mm) features burgundy marbled lacquer over brass, so it’s nicely hefty (28 g), despite its slender body (9.4 mm, 0.4 in).The lead is advanced by pressing down on the upper half of the pencil. The action works smoothly and easily.

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The Andersons describe the Sapphire Impressions (27 g) as having “gorgeous colors set in clear cellulose resin,” and they’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head. This thing is a stunner, which is something we’re used to in the fountain pen world, but not so much in mechanical pencil offerings. I fell hard for the depth of color in the resin.

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I’d never really seen mechanical pencils that excited me as much as some of my fountain pens. Maybe I don’t get out enough—maybe these are all over the place—but they’re certainly new to me. I have enough wood cased pencils to choke a small horse (as my mother would say), and plenty of mechanical pencils that are perfectly fine, but none of that was going to stop me from picking up both a Namiki Grance ($25) and Impressions ($85). These look and feel like heirloom quality pencils, and came with price tags that seemed more than fair.

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Branding is wonderfully subtle which is very much the Namiki way.

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Tucked under the “cap” of each pencil is a tiny but usable eraser, still in fine shape despite the fact that the pencils are circa 2000.

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When the current leads are used up, I may swap in something just a touch softer—maybe a 2B or 3B. Or maybe I’ll leave a harder lead in one and a softer one in the other. The 0.5 mm line is crisp and fine—perfect for use in my Hobonichi or just for jotting down notes. This size lead is a little more prone to breakage, but I still prefer it over the thicker 0.7 mm option, at least in these pencils.

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I’m still trying to rein in purchases, and am, for the most part succeeding. (I even gave up my place in the waitlist for a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 in Antique Glass as I just don’t need—well, want— another pen right now.) BUT, I caved on these mechanical pencils. Namiki’s stellar reputation for quality writing instruments coupled with my trust in the Andersons, and the fact that these New Old Stock beauties aren’t readily available made this purchase an easy one to talk myself into.

Namiki mechanical pencils?!

Yes, pencils. Now you know.

At the time of this review, Anderson Pens has some Namiki Impressions in stock in Amber (0.5 and 0.7 mm) and Sapphire (0.5 mm) finishes. The Grance pencils appear to be sold out.

Both Namiki mechanical pencils reviewed here were purchased with my own funds. There are no affiliate links in this review. 

 

 

 

 

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My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

I love the thought of going away. Seeing friends, having new experiences, taking in fresh scenery, enjoying a break from home and work routines. Finally a chance to exhale.

But travel itself, especially when flying, is fun and draining at the same time. The packing. The security rigamorole. Timing airplane bathroom breaks appropriately. Not losing any of your stuff. There’s always some point along the way where I kind of wish I was home. Just an inkling of homesickness creeps in along the way.

I miss my things–my husband (if he’s not with me, as on this current trip), our crazy pups, my own just-so pillows, a well-stocked refrigerator, ice on demand.

I swear, I have an easier time deciding what clothes to pack than picking out which pens to bring. I always miss the ones that aren’t with me. I stock my Nock Co. Brasstown with more pens than a sane person needs, then typically swap things in and out until zero hour. There’s so much mental chatter in my head about my pen selections that it makes me feel like I must be going off the deep end. But what a deep end it is!

Part of me wishes that I could embrace minimalism–pick ONE pen and use ONLY it for the entire trip. Maybe someday. Right now that thought gives me what is technically called the heebie jeebies.


So here I am in California, oh so far from home, with new and old pen favorites. For this trip (a conference), I brought along:


Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger fountain pen. Nice fine point for note taking. Replaceable should the unthinkable occur.


Karas Kustoms Two-Tone Retrakt outfitted with Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill. Great pen in my favorite color.

Ti2 Techliner Red Alert and Orange Crush. The Red Alert is outfitted with a uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 mm black ballpoint refill while the Orange Crush holds a uni-ball Signo 207 0.7 mm gel refill…both excellent options.


Amy Grigg’s Apex Kickstarter pen with a Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Great on the Levenger Circa Vivacious paper in my notebook. Smooth. Dark. Gorgeous wood.

 
Bigidesign’s Ti Post Raw Pen + Stylus
, also with the Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Do I need to carry two pens with the same refill? Nope. I never said any of this was reasonable.

Retro 1951 Lift-Off with a Schimdt P8126 refill. It’s my newest Retro so why shouldn’t it travel with me to California?

I also have my Lamy Scribble tucked into the Hightower, should I need to do pencily things. I have not tired of this mechanical pencil. It’s a gem.

There’s no need to carry this many pens across the country. Technically I could survive with a few of the Bic Stic Queen Mary pens the hotel provides. But these pens and pencil (and pen case) make me feel secure. They’re unique, well-made, and reliable–comfortable to hold and top-notch performers. They remind me of the connections I have with the folks who make and sell them. We’ve exchanged everything from brief messages to emails to long letters. Pens aren’t just pens. They’re the people behind the pens.

And that feels like home.

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This post was composed and photographed entirely with my iPhone, so excuse the lack of links (too cumbersome) and any formatting and lighting oddities. Fun fact– the photos were taken on the desk President Eisenhower used while aboard the Queen Mary. I’m sharing his suite with a friend. Pretty cool.


Another Hole In My Head: The Lamy Scribble 0.7 mm Pencil

Lamy Scribble Pencil

Did I need another pencil? In a word, no. Ever since I started listening to the Erasable podcast, their brainwashing suggestions have led to more and more woodcased pencils finding their way to my house. I remain enamored with the Palomino Blackwing Pearl, the Musgrave Test Scoring 100, and the Jumbo pencil by Write Notepads & Co. and have plenty of those around the house. I also have a couple of subscriptions (CWPencil Pencil-of-the-Month and Blackwing Volumes) bringing periodic pencil surprises to my mailbox. So, no, there was no need.

Lamy Scribble

But being well-stocked in a particular stationery product has never stopped me before. (See my stash of the Levenger Vivacious paper as evidence.) So when Goldspot Pens offered up the Lamy Scribble Pencil as a special of the week, I caved. It should be noted that I didn’t pounce immediately, but read and watched reviews which did nothing to deter me, and everything to nudge me toward the purchase.

Lamy Scribble

The Lamy Scribble pencil is sold in two versions to accommodate two lead sizes— 0.7 mm for writing and 3.15 mm for drawing. Though the look of the big fat 3.15 mm lead was intriguing, I knew I couldn’t do that pencil justice, and so opted for the 0.7 mm version. The Lamy Scribble is short (12 cm/4.7″), with a stubby chubby shape that could put you off. But don’t let it do that. Weighing a solid 24 g, this is one of the most comfortable writing instruments I’ve ever held. It’s fat where it should be fat, and slimmer where it should be a little less thick. It simply belongs in your hand. 100% comfortable.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble

With a matte black plastic body and palladium trim, this is a good-looking pencil. There is the faintest hint of a seam in the body, one that I didn’t really notice until I looked at some of my photos. The look is classic Lamy— understated and classy while also being eye-catching.

Pushing the pencil’s knock one time deploys a tiny lead-protecting sleeve, while a second push extends the 0.7 mm lead. A common complaint with mechanical pencils is that the lead snaps off easily but I haven’t had that happen at all— maybe because of the protective sleeve or maybe because I chose to substitute my favorite non-Lamy lead.

Lamy Scribble and Pentel 2B lead

Because I’m a delicate flower, and need to have my pencil lead write JUST SO, I swapped out the perfectly fine Lamy lead for Pentel’s Ain Stein 0.7mm 2B lead. Talk about perfection. This lead is tough and smooth and dark— a killer trifecta of pencil lead qualities.

Lamy Scribble's clip

The aluminum clip is thin and shaped to slide in and out of a pen (or pencil) case without issue. The Lamy literature notes that the clip is removable so if you’re anti-clip, Lamy’s got you covered. I like the look of the metal clip against the black body, and am not bothered by it in hand, so the clip remains on my Scribble.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble eraser

There’s a small eraser and lead-clearing “probe” tucked under the pencil’s knock/end cap. I haven’t used the eraser more than a couple of times as I prefer to use a separate eraser rather than going to the bother of removing the cap to access the small thing. When I did use the Scribble’s built-in eraser, it worked perfectly fine for rubbing out tiny errors. This is not an eraser for an industrial size mistake.

Lamy Scribble Pencil

So though I needed another pencil like I needed another hole in my head, I have no regrets about picking up the Lamy Scribble Pencil. And now that I’ve picked it up, I never want to put it down.

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Medical update: Not much to report as I’m still waiting for my MRI and spinal tap appointments. I rattled the cage of my doctor’s office earlier this week and should hear something by the end of the week. My symptoms have ramped back up just a little bit…still mild, but slightly more annoying…so I’m very anxious to make some diagnostic progress.

Updated update: Cervical spine MRI has been scheduled for June 30th. At first I thought that was really far away, then realized that, um, no, it’s next week. Where did June go??