Recently, drifand posted a wonderful topic over on Reddit, “It’s hammertone time!”. That got me to thinking… what interesting or unusual finishes have you seen on mechanical pencils that you enjoy?
One of my favorites is “Lava,” by rOtring. It’s a curious textured finish coating applied over the raw metal body. It looks almost like sandpaper, but it’s smoother. And while matte, there are little glints of metallic in it. Really wonderful. I don’t know how long rOtring produced it, but it started sometime in the mid 1990’s and ended in the early 2000’s, at least according to ClickyPost’s research. He made a great writeup of rOtring and the Lava treatment, HERE. The photos he got capture the visual effect of Lava rather well. The only downside to Lava, is that it’s far from indestructible. Not only is it prone to being gouged, but over time the finish smooths out losing much of its rough porous texture (PHOTO)… and eventually gets thin enough that a black undercoating starts to peek through. Here’s a comparison of used vs. new:
Another favorite of mine is the Egyptian Hieroglyphs series made by Sailor. A majority of them were made out of sterling silver, so that unfortunately attracts potential buyers who are just seeking out vintage writing instruments made of silver. It’s a very cool treatment and looks amazing when new, unweathered. I managed to pick up the rare multi-pen version, in stainless steel:
PILOT’s custom all stainless steel fountain pen series had a few really eye catching acid etched steel finishes, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the equivalent ballpoint or mechanical pencil. Once, some years back, I spotted the ballpoint triangular flags version, and was massively outbid (I think it went for over $300 USD–far more than what I paid for the fountain pen!). But that was it.
Another I’m very fond of is the dotted PILOT MR. Curiously enough, there was never a fountain pen, only a mechanical pencil and a ballpoint.
Lava finish is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I just want stainless steel. Bonus points for aesthetic etching!
I also can’t get enough of hairline finishes and certain urushi-style finishes that show both depth and transparency.
When I read the post title I knew that lava would be there haha. Sadly I still haven’t got one yet, it’s definitely one that interests me.
As “mainstream” as it may be (at least within the enthusiast community), the etching on the metal hi-mecha series by Pilot is my favorite. Metal engraved grips are great, like the 1st gen sharbo, the modern sharbo TF12 or the high end kokuyo mistral.
I don’t have one, but I have read wonders about Nohara Kougei and their wooden pencils. They age beautifully and they feel smoother than basic wooden grips (Pilot s20, s30 etc).
One that I should like but really don’t are knurled grips. They get dirty so easily and are hard to clean. Minus points to basic black coated knurled grips like platinum pro use 171 black or staedtler all black, everything just degrades so quickly…
Color coated/painted knurling is… a novelty appeal. I much prefer simple, honest raw metal knurling. My first experience with colored knurling is either the Staedtler 925 35 blue or the KT Roulette in black. Both picked up nicks in no time. Still enjoy the variety this ‘genre’ offers but I don’t take them as seriously as old school ALVIN’s, KINs and the like.
Still can’t get enough of the Tombow Monotech 1000
Also, didn’t KIN do black knurling before selling the 5635 lineage to rOtring?
Not sure if the black metal KIN 5640 and 5645 came out BEFORE the r600,
5635 = normal finish, 5645 = black finish?
5635 = silver metal grip, plastic body (various colors based on lead size), 5640 = MP with black metal grip, black metal body, 5645 = ballpoint version of 5640
So it’s called Pilot MR, thanks for the info, I have one, I’ve always called it Pilot microdots.
I would pick the now discontinued Pilot Maki-e pencils. Usually the Maki-e finishes are reserved for fountain pens and sometimes ballpoint pens, but this is the only series of pencils with these finishes (that I’m aware of).
Here is an example with the Red Fuji design:
AFAIK, this is the most expensive pencil Pilot ever made with a retail price of 35,000 JPY. Early versions came in a Paulownia wood box, just like the fountain pens from the series. They then switched to the standard Pilot plastic case.
The pencil itself is identical to the Pilot Custom series. Honestly, I didn’t think much of these when I first discovered them online. But after I saw an FP in person, it was very impressive - this technique produces a wonderful depth to the design that has to be seen in person to appreciate.
I bet that finish is divine in the hand. Shame it’s applied to my least-favorite MP shape, but it’s still an exquisite piece
Haha exactly what I thought! Luckily I found another Pilot model with the same finish, that is a much nicer pencil:
I believe these models retailed for 15000 JPY.
Urushi is magical. It is a special art of lacquer, rather unique. And you’re right, the depth possibilities are enormous, especially when inset fragments are used like abalone.
That one is absolutely fantastic. One of my favorite executive styles, too
I recently saw a few renoma pencils with the similar finish. Pretty interesting.
I saw a set of rolettas on YAJ yesterday. Gorgeous. But I am testing my self control and trying to go a month without making a purchase. Pray for me.
Got the Rolletta in hand. The rollerball wasn’t writing… and it appeared like it has some sort of proprietary refill in it. The nose cone was fused to the refill. A closer examination had me believe that Sakura wouldn’t do something like this. So I applied a torque force… and slowly but surely, the cone began to rotate. Then twist and pull… and finally, the nose cone came off. The refill had corroded! That’s why the nose cone was stuck. Thus, the refill isn’t proprietary after all. Whew!
I discovered that the Sakura rollerball refill inside is a direct match the Uniball UBR-300, and other refills are compatible like the PILOT G2.