Rough Drift

"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.

A great pencil for the money: Mitsubishi 9850 HB

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Mitsubishi makes a little of everything. Their pencil company actually started in 1887 and right away made superior quality pencils. Acquired by Mitsubishi later in life, they haven’t stopped. They even own the Uni-ball company making some wonderful pens and mechanical pencils as well. Appearance in their line-up is first rate, as well as functionality. After all, they are a mass producer across art and general uses. I’ve spent a few days with the 9850HB and at around $10 for a dozen through Amazon, I don’t know of any pencil that can beat what it’s like to use…for the money. Here’s why.

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I like the detachment a pencil gives us. Once in a while, we sharpen it and that forces a break from the work; a moment to contemplate what we’re doing and for brief thought on the next direction. That’s really why I like a good distraction less pencil. This one makes a claim on the shaft, “Smooth writing pencil for office use” and they aren’t joking. It’s indeed a smooth pencil! It’s not annoyingly super-scratchy as the generic No.2 we can buy in bulk at Wal-Mart. If anything contaminates the writing experience, a garbage tool will drive us mad and turn us off to any of the work we’re trying to accomplish. A decent pencil is a must for those reasons.

When we talk about how a pencil writes, we should touch the factors of what makes a pencil actually enjoyable. Those attributes are line darkness, point retention,  smoothness.

A universally applauded pencil we can buy today is the Palomino Blackwing 602. Using that as a benchmark (I’ve been using them for a while now) we can compare all attributes. The 602 is a grade somewhere between B2-B4 but not quite that soft. The line darkness is quite nice and the point retention for me is about 500 words before I feel I need a quick sharpening. They make firmer grades as well in special editions, the 530 of which I have used and it’s indeed firmer B2 grade-ish or closer to HB, has a longer lasting point but not that much more and still retains a nice glide but the 602 is still superior and preferable to write with. The 9850 has a very long lasting point in comparison yet retains a smoothness almost like that of the 530, but not quite.

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(Here we can see the first half of the page is all Mitsubishi 9850 HB. Consistent line for a long time. Not quite as dark, but very good nontheless.)

So where do I stand on this? Well, frankly, the 9850 is almost as good as the next best Blackwing at half the price. That doesn’t sound too great of an endorsement, does it. However, we should know that for eighty cents a pencil, an every-day-carry pencil, it has a long lasting point AND a nice glide across the page. This could be a workhorse because it maintains it’s manners across all types of paper. Office use? Absolutely and I would probably have to go to this pencil for that purpose. No way would I burn through dozens of Blackwings at $22-$24/dozen for something other than a good moment of solitude with paper and my thoughts. The 9850 can pull double and triple duty. I can treat my eight-year-old daughter to one if she’s been especially good and not feel like I’m wasting two bucks plus.

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