A (borrowed) holder for the smoothest lead cores

The story begins many a year ago: I was chatting with an art supplies store owner — a very knowledgeable one — here in Trieste, and I asked him about his nicest lead cores. His response was quick and straight, as he showed me immediately what he considered some of the smoothest and nicest lead cores on the market: the Berol Karismacolor “Karisma Blacklead” cores, for artists and freehand sketchers.

The lead he was praising over and over again came only in B, 2B, and 4B hardness, and the cores were short and fat: much fatter than the regular 2.00mm cores typically found in shops, but also slightly thinner than the 5.6mm sticks available e.g. by Koh-I-Noor and similar manufacturers with a famed art supplies lineup.

I managed to secure a portion of his remaining stock — only a few cores, alas! — and I started looking for possible holders in my collection. To be fair, any good 5.6mm holder worked fine, but every time I tried a new one, I felt that the holder wasn’t completely right, as if the lead knew it was designed to deserve a dedicated piece of equipment. I waited, looked for evidence, and hoped to be lucky enough to find the perfect fit, like any PenCinderella out there…

Fast forward a few years, I was scanning the Wallapop market, when I was struck by a listing proposing for sale what seemed to be the ultimate solution: the Karisma Art Holder for Karismacolor lead cores!

The item came in an elegant presentation box wrapped in red, thick paper, with embossed emblems, sleek colour matching, and a very interesting atmosphere. I had a brief negotiation with the seller, and managed to get the specimen for a decent — yet far from cheap — final price, which included international shipping and insurance.

The parcel safely made it to my house, but when I opened the box, I was struck for the second time, as the Karisma Art Holder looked strangely familiar, even more familiar than the time I saw it on the ad. And in the blink of an eye, all the pieces of the puzzle combined together miraculously…

The reason why the Berol Karismacolor cores had this weird diameter was probably due to the fact that they somehow had a connection with a different production line — the same connection linking their holder to a very similar one, issued by a different company, in Japan. Upon careful inspection of the cap section, I found the ultimate evidence, the “smoking gun” I knew was there.

So, the Berol Karismacolor Art Holder had been just an Uchida Art Holder 845-1101 all the time, in disguise, with just the imprints on the body switched to match the Berol and Karisma logos.

And this was the story of how my own Uchida Art Holder, found on Ebay after many years of longing, happened to find his long-lost brother…

Now, I don’t collect mechanical pencils and leadholders specifically to gather stories over objects, but every time things like this occur, I’m the happiest person around: so many dots connecting in such a sort flicker of time, so many links shining in plain view, so much truth unveiled, so many emotions exploding like pop-up candies…

Man, do I love this endeavour… :smiley:


An amazing story and beautiful items – thank you for sharing!


What a great story and read! Thanks for sharing!


Been after a Uchida Art Holder for ages…

great stuff, thx for sharing!

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You gotta love a good story with a happy ending


Who made Uchida’s lead…

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