Grails from Zebra and KIN

Was going through some inventory in my mind and trying to rehash a list of ‘greats’ from each major brand when I realized that Zebra (and Koh-I-Noor!) are both lacking in grail models from the 1980s and 90s.

The M-301 (for the desk) and the KIN 563X (for the drafting table) were certainly towering icons, but neither of them is rare nor grail material.

Am I forgetting something?


Small increments to your examples: m-2001 ( golden all-knurled) and kin 564x ( rr600)

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There’s the Drafix 1000 and the M-1502s but they’re not really grail pencils, are they? More like hard to get stuff…

KINs… Forgive me if I’m being unfair, but I can’t remember anything really outstanding…

(Okay maybe we could consider that the Rapidomatic 5640 had a bit of an aura 10-15 years ago…)


What about certain sharbo editions, like the Star Wars?

Yeah, Zebra is not exactly ‘grail’ territory… For myself, I have had several minor grails from Zebra over the years. Some are already mentioned, like the M-1001/1501/2001 etc. knurled series, and the Drafix 1000 duo. I find that I’m attracted more to interesting designs, even for cheapies that have disappeared over the production horizon…

  1. Lexym 1000 series. Strange mix of sculpted Sci-Fi styling with high-tec colors. If you fall for the design, it will be hell to locate the color variants.

  2. Sharbo TX-2. The lore is that this was an early gem by Sir Jonny Ive while he was a young designer at Barry Weaver’s studio. But the online stories dwell too much on the supposed inclusion of a fidget function on the pen that DOES NOT EXIST.

  3. Arbez Piirto series. One of the classiest 100-yen cheapies ever made. Designed by a Finn who won Zebra’s 'Arbez (zebra in reverse) design contest, ‘Piirto’ means icepick, and it was the inspiration for the faceted dagger shape of the pencil, pen and some markers. I keep wishing Zebra would revisit this series with a metal edition and better mechanism.

As for Koh-I-Noor – I’m definitely more interested in the American side of things rather than the Czech side. An obvious ‘grail’ that isn’t hard to find would be the great grand daddy of the rOtring 600, the 5617 Select-o-matic. Another candidate could be the 5619 ‘Very Fine’ – possibly their first 0.5mm pencil, which was ‘Made In Japan’.

The Czech side? It has to be the super elusive ‘5617 0.5mm’. How strange that it would share the same illustrious number as the Select-O-Matic? The markings are remarkably similar to the contemporary Rapidomatic series, but the nose-mounted lead degree window is a forerunner of designs like the Platinum Pro Use II and FC Vario L.


Would agree on the 5617 0.5


I forgot all about the 5617! Very cool pencil.


Thanks for this write-up. Really deep cuts from Zebra. The Lexym is something quite special. Reminds me of the bulky Rotring Newton twist pencil, but better.

Metal Piirto. Scary and cool idea.

The nose indicator 5617 is so difficult to get that I think it can be considered a grail pencil. It isn’t really a pinnacle of the hex barrel series from KIN, but it is something unique, good, and rare.


Sharbo has got to be the peak pencil series from Zebra. A great design, great execution and iterative improvement through the years.

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