Pencil Review: Chung Hwa 101 2B

Some pencil snobs might bristle at the notion of ordering pencils off of AliExpress. But what can I say, I like to live on the freshly-sharpened edge. I’m also always in search of a good deal. And, finally, I began to think about how remarkable it is that the People’s Republic of China has so many pencil factories that are making products specifically for export to other countries, but even in the world of pencil snobs we seldom hear about their domestic products. Surely people in China write with pencils. What kind of pencils do they use? How do they compare to the ones they’re exporting, and the ones the rest of the world makes?

Those are the things that motivated me to order ten Chung Hwa 101 grade 2B pencils. I had never heard of Chung Hwa pencils before — in fact I just ordered them on a whim from AliExpress without having any clue what to expect — but a little research indicated that they are made by the Shanghai-based China First Pencil Co. The 101 is positioned as Chung Hwa’s “drawing” pencil, and as such as available in a full spectrum of grades; its sibling, the 6151, is better known for writing purposes. Nonetheless, it seems that the 101 gets regular use as a writer in China, where both product lines are fairly prolific — in fact, in 2008 a Chung Hwa pencil was launched into space with the crew of China’s Shenzhou 7.

And on that note, let’s launch into our review…

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Pencil Review: Faber-Castell 9000 (HB and 2B)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I don’t know if the German nobility has an analogous turn of phrase, but if so, it would certainly apply to the Castell 9000 pencil. Since 1905, Faber-Castell has been producing this iconic writing implement in more or less the same form.

Much like other high end pencils in the post-internet age, the Castell 9000 is marketed as an artist’s pencil, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t charmed many a writer over the past 100 years. Today I’d like to have a look at these fine instruments, and see if they can work some magic for us!

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