The rOtring 600: a classic mechanical pencil now made in Japan

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The London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden is great for that kind of thing.




penicl you say?

these are great for life drawing, as a preliminary sketching tool

They used to make a 600 Fountain Pen, which I love. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available any more.


Oh, and I got the woman a Pentel P203. She is long gone, but left the pencil behind.


Once I got a Uni Kuru Toga Roulette pencil, which automatically rotates the lead to keep the tip sharp, I knew I would never own another type of mechanical pencil again. It really works.


whats the price point for a contraption like that

That Autopen link certainly looks like 90% function over style. I prefer the side-clicker version of something similar (Pentel?) but if anyone got all snobby on me, like saying it was something an American would use, I would pull out my Porsche Design pencil which rules them all (for style).

This really puts a new spin on that old “The Russians just use a pencil!” joke. Apparently one does not “Just use a pencil.” etc…


reading the “gulag archipelago”, the author was forced to take down notation using match heads and sticks of various lengths, a kind of personal code he invented, because no writing instruments were allowed. in this way he could keep track of things until he was freed

" In the camp, this [writing] meant committing my verse—many thousands of lines—to memory. To help me with this, I improvised decimal counting beads and, in transit prisons, broke up matchsticks and used the fragments as tallies. As I approached the end of my sentence, I grew more confident of my powers of memory, and began writing down and memorizing prose—dialogue at first, but then, bit by bit, whole densely written passages. … But more and more of my time—in the end as much as one week every month—went into the regular repetition of all I had memorized."


Such a blast from the past. I just checked, I still have a silver 0.5 that’s functional in my desk drawer.

In college, I worked in the office/art supply department of the college bookstore, and we sold the German version of these. Pretty sure they came in individual boxes, and were expensive enough that we kept them in a locked display case. They also made a matching retractable ballpoint. On the ballpoint the indicator was used for color (black/blue/red).

This was long enough ago that the store had a huge wall of pencils, pens, rollerballs, etc, most of which were sold loose, so customers could try them out.

Sadly that store no longer exists. I can’t say I’ve seen any store that even approaches the selection we had. The closest was probably a neat little shop in Switzerland a couple of years ago.

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Aye, Kuru Toga 4 Lyfe. Of course, there’s no reason they couldn’t stick a Kuru Toga mechanism in something with a similar shape made of similar materials. This one’s got the metal finish and textured grip, at least:

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I’ve been to a few large non-chain art stores that had a great selection of pencils and pens, though being that it was an art store that’s what those were geared toward. I don’t draw much these days but i still have on hand several pencils and pens that i treasure, for the pens i really need to buy replacement nibs and ink though.

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drafting stores tend to have more Niche items such as these. got an 0.2 pencil from one of those here in CA


Yes! We sold these also. I recall them being quite heavy!

I have one in my desk. Never use it any more, but it’s there

I prefer the 2mm - usually sold as “lead holder” rather than mechanical pencil.

Probably less practical for most uses, but reminds me of the Staedtler and Faber-Castells that my dad used to use as an architect. I think I have some of his Rotring drafting pens as well.

Rotring also make the best 2mm lead holders as well - I wonder if they are made in Japan too?


I prefer the retractable 800, sadly also made in Japan, not Germany, and I have a rare bronze Faber-Castell Alpha-matic from the 90s with auto-advancing lead mechanism, but unless you are a draftsman or architect the thicker 1.4mm lead of the Faber-Castell e-motion is much more expressive, and the bullet shape is just a pleasure to hold. I gave one to Mike Rohde of Sketchnotes fame and it’s his primary sketching pencil.


How exactly does a lead holder work? Do you need special devices to cut and sharpen the leads?

I have a cylinder of precut leads for my compasses-- took me a while to source them.