I’m new to the forums and have been lurking so far. I’ve been quite intimidated by the vintage collectors in this forum which was why I haven’t said much. I’m not terribly into vintage mechanical pencils (though I own maybe about a handful of them) but I enjoy using mechanical pencils and may have splurge here and there with the usual Graph Gears, 925-25s, S20s, Kurotogas, etc.
Anyway, as an introduction, I thought I’d share my small collection of [exotic/rare] wood mechanical pencil collection by wood-working makers in Japan. Several years ago, I got my hands on a Pilot S20 and it was instant love. For some inexplicable reason, I really enjoyed the feel of wood in my hand though I believe the barrel contours also played a big role as well. Even now, I (still) enjoy watching the wood deepen in colour as the days pass.
Naturally, it got me wondering if I could find other similar ones - that is, approximately 12-13mm grip diameter with a non-retractable lead pipe (ie. drafting pencil) - and I knew the Japanese market would be the place to look. And there they were, but with incredibly high prices. It’s a niche market but new releases sell like hot cakes. Depending on maker and reputation (Setu, Nohara, Craft A, etc), each pen or pencil usually starts around 7000 yen and can easily go up to 200-400K.
I wasn’t planning to build a collection but I’m fascinated with the different textures of wood and its smell (yes), so over the years, I kept my eyes out for the less known brands and aiming for the less exotic woods.
Here’s a picture of my current collection:
1) Macassar Ebony - Column (Rinkul)
Rinkul is, by far, the most innovative company I’ve seen so far. Their mechanical pencils and ballpens, other than the shaft and lead pipe, are made completely out of wood - including the knock mechanism. I had to keep the manual around just to remember how to “disassemble” in order to put more lead into it.
They have other models (Bezel, Eclipse, Fuse) where the shape and mechanism is different. They also produce cute versions of animal figures, a rocket (with a holder), G-pen wooden holders. Basically, anything that they could replace with wood, they did.
I bought it for the novelty because I was interested to see how it worked. Needless to say, it’s a little too involved for me to carry it around every day so it just sits in my drawer.
2) Marblewood (ALINA penmaker)
Uses Pentel Graph Gear 500 as its base.
3) Quince Burl (Craft A)
Craft A is one of the more established brands out there. I managed to snipe this many, many years ago by chance and never found another opportunity since. It’s nigh impossible to buy online these days as they instantly sell out and/or command high prices, or produce stock available for in-person events only.
4-9) Kobo Taishi
Kobo Taishi is a maker who sells on Creema and Minne shopping platforms. I came across him by chance and I thought he might be a hobbyist. His prices were definitely below market price (back then) so I bought one to check its build and honestly, I think it’s just fine. His prices used to be fairly reasonable but lately, they have gone up. However, he sells “stock” versions where you don’t get to see pick the pattern of the wood and you get to choose the metal furnishing color (gold, black or silver). Think of it as the less distinctive pieces that cannot justify the higher price point. The prices range from 2000 - 4500 yen which fits more into my budget so I’ve bought nearly everything that he has made available in that range. Despite being less distinctive, I don’t think the quality feels worse than any of the other more established brands out there.
- Quince Burl: Notice how different it is from the Quince from Craft A, which was twice its cost.
- Yamazakura (Wild Cherry)
- Keyaki (Japanese Elm)
- Yakusugi (Japanese Cedar)
- Honduran Rosewood
- Macassar Ebony
I’ve just ordered the Holly and Cocobolo to add to my collection. They feature a new “wave” shape that he has been experimenting with.
10-12) Hamaji Seisakusyo
Hamaji also sells on Minne as well as his own website. I can vouch that his products, despite the affordable price tag, is top notch. He also occasionally adds Macassar Ebony to add a little variation to the main wood.
Jindai literally translates to “Age of Gods” and “Kusu” is Camphor wood. In the Japanese wood industry, “jindai” is given to trees that have been buried in the ground for a long time due to landslides or volcanic eruptions and have turned a darker color, such as blackish brown. The process causes the wood to change color (almost fossil-like) and the scent is more muted when compared to regular camphor wood.
- Grenadilla (original listing)
Simple but oh, oh so lovely. I thought I liked ebony but grenadilla … is just … all I can say is that when I use it, I rub my fingers on it all day long. Eep!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little collection of wooden mechanical pencils! And I’m going back to my lurking!