What would you say brought about your deep interest in mechanical pencils?

I think it’s safe to say that most of us got here via Reddit’s “r/mechanicalpencils” sub, and we were there because our interest in mechanical pencils was above the average. We weren’t content to own a few decent inexpensive mechanical pencils and just move onto other things. No. There was something that tugged at us. Made us take greater notice to this little realm. And then indulge it with expanding collections.

What was it that got you going?

There’s probably a few categories of people who are into mechanical pencils. Some of us work in professions (technical or art) where mechanical pencils are frequently used and we wanted to get the best. And some of us just couldn’t help but be fascinated, even though we don’t use them for our work.

My work tool has been the laptop for the vast majority of life. The keyboard is it. And it even got to the point where my penmanship began to suffer on those infrequent times I’d have to pick up a pen. Eventually it became painfully obvious to me, enough to be a bother. A French girlfriend of mine at the time encouraged me to use a fountain pen to restore my penmanship. I started out with a cheap Stabilo fountain pen and then recovered a long lost Waterman Laureat my sister had given me as a high school graduation present. It looked great in its glossy gunmetal finish, but had a very firm medium nib. I wanted something finer and with a little more give. And that brought me to PILOT. I was just about to buy a Metropolitan, when I came across the Vanishing Point. It blew me away. I had to have one. And so began my fountain pen voyage of discovery. But more so, was my discovery of vintage PILOT. The MYU and pocket sized fountain pens attracted me. And there were so many intriguing designs. Some of them had accompanying ballpoints and mechanical pencils.

When I’d gotten into the PILOT Custom with etched stainless steel bodies, I picked up the matching mechanical pencil. While demure in size, this thing was so well built. I took it apart to find the whole inner mechanism made of metal. Everything about this writing instrument spoke of a design team that was passionate about mechanical pencils. Whereas so many aspects could’ve been cheapened with little impact on performance, the engineers went the other way. This mechanical pencil was built to last a lifetime, if not longer. A far cry from my cheap plastic mechanical pencils used during high school and college.

So I began to comb through writing instrument community forums to see what people were chatting about regarding mechanical pencils. And that’s when I began to realize there was so much more going on. Or more accurately, “had gone on,” back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. I began to discover brands I’d long thought only made ballpoints, rollerballs, and fountain pens also made mechanical pencils. Like Tombow and Zebra. And while I’d long known of Pentel (I had a couple of Quicker Clickers in high school), I had absolutely no clue that in Japan they were in the top echelon of precision mechanical pencil making since the 1960’s.

Then the lightbulb went off. Ah, yes. Before the computer, there were people in highly technical professions who used mechanical pencils as their prime tools. And so there were different grades of them, all the way up to “top of the line” quality. The kind chief architects, draftsmen, and engineers could afford and would buy for the luxury and status of it. In Japan, the cachet of exclusivity ran especially deep, where certain models would be limited runs and not even exported. These prized writing instruments were like exclusive katanas to the lead wielding samurai.

Finely made, high precision, artistically designed and accented writing instruments. The mechanical pencil endowed with these qualities is something special. Different from a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen. And thanks to the Japanese who revered this kind of writing instrument, paying special tribute by extending those qualities even down to ¥1000 and sometimes ¥500 priced models. It can even come down to little nuances you might miss… then you spot them and know that yes, some product engineer who came up with this design really cared about what they were making.

One other thing about mechanical pencils. You never have to worry about a refill cartridge going extinct. Lead is lead. There will always be lead. :sweat_smile:

So that’s how I got here. Your turns! :wink:


I got into mechanical pencils with a Kuru toga around ~8 years ago, it was a gift from my father who’s an electrical engineer and has always had to use mechanical pencils (even got his own collection, Rotring and Alvin are his favourites).

I was amazed by how it worked but it didn’t go much further than that, till one day it broke (I lost the o-ring and couldn’t understand why the pencil was working “oddly”). After that, I got a P205 in green and liked it even more than the Kuru Toga, started to rotate the pencil manually and that’s when I started to look up pencils online.

My first international purchase was the Marstechno 0.3 via Zenmarket, a pencil I wanted for a very long time due to it’s beautiful industrial design. After that, the prices of the pencils I acquired just started increasing and the collection is growing, it has come to a temporary halt since I’m having a lot of travel related costs since I’m taking university admission exams (often having to travel to another state to do so).


Mine was a roundabout journey, so please bear with me…

I think an appreciation for good design runs in the family. My brother and I are 4 years apart, so growing up we shared toys and hobbies. One of our first joys was receiving Japanese stationery and toys for birthdays and Christmas. During the 70s, Japanese department stores were huge in Singapore, especially Yaohan and Isetan.

A major point I can remember was discovering the 1/72 diecast models for Dougram in the mid 80s. This was amidst the boom of ‘realistic robots’ like Gundam and Macross. But unlike the decidedly colorful boxes on the shelves, Dougram and its enemy the Soltic came in handsome black slipcases with stark graphics that opened to reveal a skeletonized robot: the internal chassis, joints, cockpit and even the ‘hydraulic suspension’ in the feet were on display. To play, we had to attach the outer armor pieces. It was quite a mindblowing experience and I think that might have been the beginning of my lifelong fascination for demonstrator mechanisms.

Meanwhile in school, we both had, what I recognize now, a Pilot H215 – the clear hexagonal versions. When they eventually broke we both got the H227 and H229, because we wanted the clear designs. This opened the doorway for us to try 0.7 and 0.9mm leads. It was also the first time I experimented with taking apart and swapping mechanisms – I saved up to buy a ‘normal’ 0.5mm and put that into the 0.9 body…

As we went through middle school and into junior college, we somehow managed to learn to take care of the Pilots and also our growing toy collection.

When we graduated into the workforce, the robot collection finally ‘ran out of space’. It was a fascinating hobby but it was getting increasingly expensive as brands like Takara and Bandai began making and marketing for the adult nostalgia collector. It was the hunt for vintage pieces that took us online around 2006–7 and ventured onto ebay… such innocent times!

By then I was a working copywriter and graphic designer. I started taking a shine to Lamy, Staedtler and rediscovered my clear H329/5. Then I discovered a massive stationery store in town that stocked Platinum, Zebra, Pentel and more… and here I am now.


Great story, Kelvin! Nice that you had a close brother to share in your experiences. Is he older or younger than you?

Do you remember what were the first few pen/pencil models you got from those various brands like Lamy, Staedtler, Tombow, Platinum, & Zebra?

Singapore was like the next best place to be for Japanese writing instruments of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, as it sounds like there’s a close business exchange relationship between the two nations. In America, it turns out we got only a very small portion of what brands like PILOT, Pentel, and Tombow produced. Things were better with rOtring, LAMY, Faber Castell, and Staedtler, but prices weren’t easy to handle. I remember being in my high school days visiting Friedman and Canal Street art supply chains, lusting after glorious looking rOtring and Faber Castell pens & pencils. They were always locked up in plexiglass display cases. And when you’d ask to check one out, the staff would be ultra cautious and discriminating. I remember holding an Alphamatic and got to try it out on a piece of test paper, and after about 30 seconds, the sales associate held out his hand to take it back–who then wiped it down with a polishing cloth and gently returned it to its perch in the locking display case. Price? I can’t remember what it was, but it was like 4 times more than I anticipated. In hindsight, the sales associate probably surmised that and the brief sampling was more of a polite courtesy where he suspected a 99% chance of no sale.

That is one thing we sometimes forget–the relative value of currency at the time an item was sold. Even today while we barely flinch at the stickered price difference of ¥1000 to ¥2000, that was a lot of money for a student in the 1980’s. You’re looking at paying double the money for a better pencil, wondering if it was really worth it.


That’s great you have that familial connection to mechanical pencils, ones your father used in his work. Strong sentimental value. It’s interesting to hear of your going from a feature rich Kuru Toga to a stark simplistic Pentel P205 and preferring it. Usually it’s the other way around. But, I can relate to your impression. Having heard impressions from people who have experienced every model Kuru Toga, it sounds like the Roulette and the Dive are the only two really worth owning. Yet, for someone like me who is so accustomed to manual rotation, it’s practically autonomic… the Kuru Toga requires me to fight the urge to do it. It’s a strange feeling. But the transition isn’t as easy as going from a manual transmission car to one with an automatic transmission!

Good luck on your university admission tests! If you don’t mind my asking, what are your top 3 schools, and safety school?


The Kuru Toga was great but I thought a simpler pencil would be better since it has less parts that “broke” (I thought the mechanism was broken on the KT), the classic design of the P200 also interested me a lot!

Thank you very much Gary! Here we have the National High School Exam (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio - ENEM), it lets you get into any federal public university, they are usually the best ones in the country, only behind the military institutes (IME - Instituto Militar da Engenharia/Military Institute of Engineering and ITA - Instituto Tecnológico da Aeronáutica/Technological Institute of the Aeronautic (armed forces branch)) and USP and UNICAMP (state universities of São Paulo and Campinas, both in the state of São Paulo), the latter two have their own civil admission exams, Im taking those besides ENEM, ENEM was back in November and the grades will be out on the 16th of January and then I can apply to federal universities, my top choice on federal is UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais - located in Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais), it happens to be my overall third choice and safe choice.

My top choices are USP and UNICAMP respectively, their exam is divided on two phases, 1 day for the first phase that works as an elimination phase, that was back in November and is why I went to Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, the phase 2 is divided in 2 days and happens in December, UNICAMP has application sites on Belo Horizonte, which is why I went there again, for USP I need to go to São Paulo. First day is comprised of 10 Portuguese and Literature questions (8 for UNICAMP, and then they have 2 questions in English) and an essay proposal, usually presenting you with a problem or obstacle and you need to argue on how to overcome it, or even write a letter, it varies a lot and tests your writing skills. Second day has specific questions for each area, someone trying to do Electrical Engineering like me has to take 6 math and 6 physics questions (for UNICAMP it’s + 6 chemistry and +2 humanities as well), someone trying to do Medicine will have more biology and chemistry questions. I got accepted for phase 2, UNICAMP’s was in the past Sunday and Monday, I think I did well so I’m very happy, USP’s is next Sunday and Monday, so I’m going back to São Paulo this week.

The best universities in the country are: USP>UNICAMP(negligible gap though…)>UFRGS(Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)>UFRJ(Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)>UFMG. Gap between USP and UNICAMP is negligible, but Campinas is a smaller city (still very big though…) so it’s more about living in the biggest city in the Americas or living in a smaller town with a better university life. Gap between the two and the federal universities is a bit bigger (they have way way more funds since they rely on the State of São Paulo for funding, not the Government) gap between the federal ones I mentioned is very small though. All universities mentioned are free, we do have private ones but they are usually of lesser quality when compared to public ones.

Overall I’m in a very good and privileged position, Im pretty sure I can get into UFMG via ENEM if I don’t do well on the two other exams (grades will be released on the last week of January) and it’s already a dream university to me.

Thank you for the interest! And I hope I explained it well enough.

EDIT: ENEM is also divided on two days, but only one phase. First day has 45 humanities and 45 language (Portuguese, Brazilian literature, English and Arts) questions and an essay proposal, but on the dissertative-argumentative format, presenting you a relevant problem that you need to solve as well.

Second day has 45 science (physics, biology and chemistry) and 45 mathematics questions.

Depending on the course you select, a certain area has more weight (such as math for engineering or humanities for history).


Here’s one of the enemy robots from the Dougram series I mentioned.

My earliest memories of Lamy et al.:

  • Lamy White Pen with the black stripes
  • Lamy logo in brushed steel
  • Lamy Al-star in graphite
    All were pens. Even then I hated the mushy action on the Safari pencils and the jiggly button cap.

Staedtler: it was the dawn of the TriPlus ergonomic range and I fell in love with the TriPlus Micro 774. Retractable tip, twist eraser… gifted it to several colleagues. In earlier days, it’s LUNA range of color pencils was a staple at school.

Other memories as a teenager: Getting a grey Pentel Flexiboll pen and a matching grey Parker Itala from a local bookshop. The Flexiboll was my introduction to ‘Designer’ pens - Emilio Ambasz’ name is etched in my brain. So too the Itala: Giugiaro was already known to me because of the flashy cars I’d clipped out of my dad’s motoring magazines.

For Pilot: the H-515 Shaker was a drool worthy unobtainium than only the richer kids flaunted in school. The Hi-tecpoint V5 was also a favorite in class. This is the H227 that I held on to from school days:

Mitsubishi: better known locally for its uniball rollers, not its pencils. When I learned of the Kurutoga around 2010, it took another 3-4 years before it reached our shores.

Zebra: the Be-pen in 0.5 was a revelation to me and buddies in the art class. Loved drawing with it as it was less likely to blot compared to the writing focused Pilot V5. Nothing much for Zebra pencils until I discovered that huge stationery shop around 2010… then I got hold of the Tect 2way.

Platinum was always more of a fountain pen brand here. At that big store, I bought a smart looking rollerball but never saw any of their drafting range. Here’s that first rollerball I got as a collector just starting out:

Pentel was rather subdued - the quicker clicker and cheapie Sharplets were more commonly found than the P200 series.

Rotring was nowhere to be found. My dad had a lettering set from his office but I never learned to use it because of my phobia of fountain pens.


I have always loved stationery. I could feel the potential to create, to imagine, to produce when in a stationery store. My small hometown had one decent stationery store across the street from the sports card trading store that I loved to frequent. When I was about 12, a schoolmate introduced me to 0.3mm pencils at the stationery store and together we would practice our smallest handwriting, competing for the most words on wide-ruled paper. I recall squeezing 13 stacked words in one row. This required rotating the lead to the sharp edge, of course.

A year or two later, my dad gave me a Rotring 600. I bent the tip that year and lamented my loss.

Not long after that, my grandfather gave me a Cross century MP whose spring-twist mechanism felt too cumbersome.

In college, I used Staedtler 780 2mm and KIN Rapidograph for drafting.

About 7 years ago, I decided I wanted a few sets of 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7mm pencils for various locations - in my work bag, at my work desk, at my home desk. I was curious about updated tech in MPs and was doing some shopping. I gave basic Kuru Togas a try. It was a little too distracting for me but I put them in my work bag. I also very gradually set myself up with some Rotring 300s and 600s and 800s. While trying to find my ideal Rotring setup in about 2019 or 2020, I noticed that blue, red and green 600s were available. I think it was in my search for these that I started to dig deeper into what I really liked and wanted and found an ocean depth of interesting tangents and collection potentials.

I should note how big a role ebay played in my journey. I collected Stanley 750 chisels on ebay starting in 2013 (still have not completed my set). I started collecting world silver coins primarily on ebay in about 2017 - this journey through history has been very rewarding. I began collecting Al Mar knives in about 2018 (the original luxury folder from Seki Japan). And finally ramped into pencils in 2020. I still collect coins and knives, but fairly narrowly.

In a way, I think my collecting pursuits have been similar - find the items that have a lot of cultural, historic, or personal meaning for me and assemble them to be savored. I am so glad for this community. Collecting can actually be fairly isolating and lonely - it is a lot of solo mental work. But doing it with friends is a blast. Thanks to all!


Maybe this can pass as some sort of introduction that I was rude enough to skip when I joined a week ago (honestly, I wasn’t aware that saying hello in a specific post is common practice in forums until I checked back on fpgeeks and the likes and realised they have one of those sections too! — please forgive me)

Both my parents were draughtsmen and there was always mps around, usually the 77 Fixpencil with the 3 fishes :slight_smile: My mom (d. 2010) was a ceramist by training and she kept to an old 3mm fixpencil that I regard as the holy grail of my collection — but, you know, the tools weren’t really as important for them as getting the job done. I think this business of collecting stuff happens later in life when we try to give our (always) imperfect pasts some sort of order and we look for the thing that shines the most — that unique gem that can reconcile us with our own history. I’m not trying to be a shrink or anything here but I think it is relevant to realise that collecting is about order and reconciliation with our place in the world — and that that is a perfectly okay thing to do.

I’ve only come to this conclusion because I’ve mostly used my +750 pencils collection to pay for an art degree — which is consistently about disorder and breaking common values… And I’ve realised that it has worked as a full circle for me. Well, almost. I still owe the school €510 and I need to rent a studio with my painting/art colleagues :slight_smile:

There’s some pencils I’ll never let go, though — so as detached and a new person as I pretend to be now, I’ll always be a collector.


I’ve always had a knack for nice things when it comes to things i carry/touch, and subsequent have always been a collector. As a very young child I collected Keys. Bizarre, i know. I had grown accustomed to them primarily due to their inherit quality. Nice, solid little pieces of metal. I accumulated probably about 10-15 of them, various keys with access to nothing that I knew of. I eventually lost interest mainly because I had no space on my key ring anymore. Although this bears no significance to my eventual pencil collection, It solidified a sense of purpose within collecting, and also an addition to a preference of metal.

Around grade 4, (I think age 9?) my father bestowed upon me a Parker Jotter Ballpoint-Mechanical Pencil set. Being a 9 year old, I quickly lost one of them - the pencil half. I used the Pen for ages, and still have it, somewhere around here. I still do have an interest in pens, an interest that might actually be growing at a similar rate to my pencil thing now.I think that the lack of pencil made me lust for something I never experienced, so once I got my first job at 14 I spent a portion of my first paycheck on a Parker Jotter 0.5mm pencil. I ended up realizing that the jotter set my father had gifted me was much better than the quality of Parker products nowadays. This sent me on a quest to find a better alternative, and now somehow I’m here.

My father is still interested as well, and his efforts to push his hobbies onto me thankfully worked very well. It’s a great way for us to connect and stay in touch.


It’s rather arbitrary that I collect MPs. generally I have always been a collector, even as a child I collected certain leather labels of a popular children shoe brand or beermats (no, I didn’t drink beer as a child :wink: ). In general, I am happy about the MP sujet – it’s not so expensive as watches or coins, and not so useless as stamps. But principally it’s complete nonsense for me to amass pencils, I am no heavy-duty user of them.

Short and disappointing, isn’t it :smiley:


You made a great point. That’s why it’s so wonderful Thomas has hosted Knockology. Reddit was an OK community, but didn’t really facilitate the more serious collectors who want to deep dive into various collecting pursuits. And who needs all of the open-air Reddit riffraff to stir trouble. Here, we have many likeminded people with a passion for vintage mechanical pencils. And in real life? Pretty much next to impossible to find a fellow collector.

I know some people who collect fountain pens. I showed them some of my best examples of mechanical pencils and tried to sell them on the appealing factors. They admired my level of appreciation, but they did not share it themselves. To them, it’s either a liquid ink writing nib, or a luxury ballpoint/rollerball. Anything else is a passing curiosity. Someone I know who appreciates mechanical pencils has a hard stop around $20 USD. They just can’t fathom why anyone would spend much more when perfectly fine pencils exist for much less. They did actually appreciate the look of the PILOT H-3005. But the price made them recoil. “No way I’d ever spend that much!” And I can relate. There was an earlier time when I had passed on PILOT’s Hi-Mecha level pencils, because the average price was way above my mental threshold. What sold me on taking the chance was seeing the pricing disparities. You could buy a rare pencil on YAJ, then resell for double on eBay. In essence, you do it enough and you make your collecting costs a good bit lower. I did that for a time… but then later on, had missed out gaining higher profit because there’d been a new surge of collectors from the Pacific Rim and they’re still at it, keeping prices higher than ever before.


Agree very much so on the Reddit part. Although its fine as an entry level, I just don’t find interest in 10-15 posts a day of recommendations of the R600, Kuru-Togas, etc. Even worse are the collection photos with a bunch of Bics.

Sure, this all sounds very bitter and Holier-Than-Thou, but this forum is just at such an immensely higher level, both collection-wise and community-wise.

I haven’t gotten into vintage yet. I had ordered about 4/5 vintage pencils from Elton on eBay a couple of months ago, and they were apparently lost in shipping. Elton was very nice about it and refunded me for all of them, I’m just now a little scared to take the gamble now.


Yes, most writing instrument collectors here are into FPs (not MP, and also not BP). Most important reason is that there actually are differences in writing quality between lower and higher range nibs. This argument we are mainly missing, the writing quality of a cheap BIC is good (good lead assumed). Additional Tinguely-isms like in the Dive or our talking about knock feeling is already quite over the top…


Very true. Admittedly, the ceiling of mechanical pencils, at least in my opinion (and what i believe you’re saying as well) is rather low. The difference between holding a chunk of graphite between your fingers and a ~$200 USD Pencil is frankly not all that different, aside from the mess you make with the former. But frankly, I appreciate that.

I like to think I’m fairly simple, and as a result, the intricacies of a Fountain pen are almost too much for me. Different Ink types, absurd colors, Calligraphy, specific nib styles, nib hardness, nib size, nib material… the list goes on (Not to mention the mere price of even “entry level” fountain pens is insane). I feel like that detracts from the ability to enjoy specific things. whereas with pencils, going from a P200 to a Spoke/IJ Instrument/Nicolas Hemingway allows you to change only the body.

It gives me a sense of scientific control. It allows me to quickly learn what I prefer, and makes those preferences feel much more significant when it comes to my collecting type.

Plus, I’m a mathematician by favour, and hopefully an engineer by trade, and the ability to erase cannot be understated.


Someone gave me a dark blue Tikky Special when I was about 10 - I lost it - Then in high school first year the math teacher gave me an F-C DS45 - I lost it.


Nice gift of the teacher!


I was always into MPs through grade school, but my access to interesting pieces was extremely limited (plastic Bic 0.5s, anyone?).

Around 8th grade, I remember going to Office Depot and seeing an acrylic case full of Staedtler Micromatics and fancy pens. I was so smitten that I had to pick up a new MP, but obviously, I wasn’t going to be getting any of the $25+ pieces.

I ended up with a metal-barreled Zebra M-301, which I used but never loved (probably because I had seen the tip of the iceberg with the Micromatics), but regardless—the obsession had begun.

Months later, as I was entering high school, I had to purchase textbooks and special supplies for the upcoming year. At the makeshift bookstore, they were selling Niji Grip 500s in red and black, and I snagged a red one.

This is the pencil that really did it for me—I found the double-knock action completely irresistible! I would go on to use that pencil for all math assignments and tests during high school. By the time I graduated, the grip had completely disintegrated, and the pencil was essentially dead.

As a freshman at Georgia Tech, I ventured into the engineer’s portion of the bookstore and noticed a handsome Stanford Pro•Touch with a rubber grip, and it seemed like a bulkier and more refined pencil than my old Niji Grip 500. I fell in love immediately.

I used that pencil for literally everything throughout 4 years of engineering school, and thankfully, I still have it today (can’t say the same about the red Niji Grip 500 :pensive:). The grip is shot, and the lead hardness indicator just spins around freely now.

Before leaving university, I visited the bookstore one last time and purchased a PaperMate Pro•Touch II—my first pencil with a knurled metal grip. I never had a chance to use it in a formal setting, but I’m stoked to have this pencil today in excellent condition (as these are now worth quite a bit due to the rarity).

At this point—after using MPs extensively for 8 years—there was no turning back. Cool pieces would always catch my eye; knurled grips would send me swooning; and discovering pencils I never knew existed would always feel like vacationing somewhere new and incredible.

And that’s really the name of the game for me. I am in awe of the variety and abundance in the MP landscape; it’s SO much larger than I ever realized as a kid. If I had seen even a fraction of the true worldwide market in the 1990s (I think I saw less than 3%), I would have started collecting way back then.

I simply had no idea what was out there, so that elevated the “wow” factor when I finally discovered the true size and scope of pencildom.

Because of this, I want every piece. Not just the “hi mechas”, not just the stuff collectors generally geek out over—I want them all. The entire story of MPs is the thing for me, and you can’t tell a complete story without all the characters.


If you had to guess, what % are you towards that goal?

I still think a coffee table book on MPs would be cool to have -


Honestly, I’m not attempting to get them all. But this basic ethos drives my collecting, and it’s why I have so many longtail pieces from each manufacturer. I’m more focused on the whole picture than just the high end picture, and I think that’s evident from my contributions over time.

If I had to guess at a % of MPs I’ve collected (that I actually count as MPs, not the ¥100 plastic pieces of shit that inflate the total potential market by 3x), I’d say I’m at like 65–70%.

  • Most complete coverage: Mitsubishi
  • Most total pieces: Pilot
  • Honorable mentions in terms of % acquired: Pentel and Colleen Jib
  • Very strong compared to other collectors: Tombow, Platinum, Newman, and Sakura