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Koralatov: Last year a retailer in Japan told me that the item 17 was discontinued. I had no reason to doubt that – it came from a reliable source and it was plausible since the Black Polymer 999 was discontinued too; both pencils were made by Pentel and had polymer leads. However, after finding the item 17 at Vetted I was curious and have asked Vetted and CDT, and both have confirmed that this pencil has not been discontinued.
Matthew: The item 17 is hard to beat, and if one only needs HB and doesn’t refrain to order them by mail it’s an excellent (if not the best) choice. The folks at CDT have taken care of even the smallest detail and have created an outstanding product.
I didn’t know this one also had the polymer lead; no wonder it’s so nice. When Bundoki listed this pencil as discontinued, I was hoping that CDT would just find another manufacturer. Funny that Pentel still makes them, but doesn’t make their own wood-cased polymers anymore.
I’m half-and-half on the color, but you’re right about the detailing!
Stationery Traffic: Yes, they are really beautiful and I like their colour too.
Sean: While the package of the Black Polymer 999 says that the lead is polymer-bound the one of the item 17 does not. However, I was told that it has a similar lead, and since the leads are almost identical in terms of smoothness, blackness, erasability and strength I am sure that this is correct. – As far as I know Pentel doesn’t have their own woodcase pencil manufacturing so I assume that CDT get the pencils from the same OEM (of course this doesn’t explain why Pentel is named on the package of the item 17). – The colour is unusual, and at first I was a little reserved. I assume that finding a new barrel colour for a pencil is quite difficult – many colours and their combinations are already associated with certain brands, and a lot of the remaining colours will make a pencil look childish. To me, the light green CDT has settled upon is an excellent choice – it is new and looks serious. Now and then I think about making a photo of the item 17 besides a glass of green tea ;-) – Regarding the details: In view of the perfectionism it is quite funny that the package of the item 17 says „item 018″; I would not have expected such an error to slip through.
The pencil looks beautiful in this picture, the nice long point suits it very well.
I have a question for those of you that have tried and thought well about Item 17: when did you purchase this pencil?
Penciltalk has published a positive review on Item 17 in 2008, then in mid 2010 commenter Robert reported problem with the lacquer coating. I refrained from purchasing this pencil after seeing the picture Robert uploaded. I wonder if he encountered a bad batch or the quality of this product has declined, maybe by changing suppliers…
Claire, I have just fished out my three remaining boxes I have purchased last year (if I remember correctly). Since I haven’t heard about the problem Robert has told about (let alone experienced them) I had no reason to inspect my stock closer – until today. Much to my surprise (and dismay) I found faulty pencils among all three dozens :-( In total four have lacquer defects and one is warped. The pencils in the box with the most defects have the relief embossing „5J” (like Robert’s) and the box has „51050018″ on the inside of the opening flap; the other faulty pencils are marked with „5K” and „51150038″. – Fortunately even the worst defects aren’t as severe as the ones Robert has shown, and some are quite difficult to spot; however, it is a disappointment. So far I have been spoilt by Japanese quality so it has never occured to me to inspect the pencils thoroughly and look for such flaws …
It’s a pity but I have to take back my unreserved recommendation (and I will be much more cautious with my recommendations in the future).
My last batch were bought in April of last year, and the few I’ve used since then had no issues. I don’t have them to hand at the moment, but will dig out the boxes when I get a chance and inspect them properly.
Koralatov, I would be happy to hear about the result of your inspection. If possible, please let me also know about the relief embossing (it is about 15mm left from the „MADE IN JAPAN” printing) and the code on the inside of the box’ opening flap. – Yes, a discovery like this does indeed cast a cloud over these otherwise good news.
I have contacted Craft Design Technology since I was a little concerned about these quality problems with an otherwise excellent and unique pencil. Much to my pleasure I got a detailed and helpful reply within less than 24 hours.
They told me that the lacquer defects are caused by the impregnating oil coming out (this oil is used to improve the wood’s cutting ability; it’s a common practice). This can happen under certain ambient conditions but – as far as I understand it – only in a certain period in time after manufacturing. So, if a pencil does not show these discolourations yet it won’t shown them in the future either. CDT also told me that they will investigate even further and will happily replace the affected pencils.
Since I have order some more of the item 17 at Vetted I have told them about this problem too. They have replied very quickly too and told me that they haven’t heard of that problem but will also replace defective pencils.
I am very satisfied with the customer support of both!
Today I have received a few dozens of the item 17 I have ordered at Vetted, and much to my surprise there are some pencils with blotchy finish in every box (click image to enlarge). – For the record: The two boxes from which these samples were taken from had „51050018″ on their opening flap, and the pencils were marked with „5J”.
I don’t know if these pencils are old(er) stock or the problem with the impregnating oil coming out persists; I will return them and won’t have another go with the item 17. On that occasion: My thanks to Vetted who have promised a smooth cancellation of my order. – I wonder why the excellent lead of this pencil isn’t available separately for leadholders.
It’s strange. On one hand I am all too familiar with persisting quality problems but on the other hand I can’t believe that this happens at Pentel of all companies. However, on the box it reads „Pentel Japan” but I have learned that Pentel don’t have their own woodcase pencil production but get these pencils from an OEM (just like the discontinued Black Polymer 999 which had polymer leads too). – If I learn more I will add it here.
I am no longer sure about CDT’s explanation of the problem. Cedar contains terpenes, and these compounds migrate, sometimes causing yellow discolourations on the pencil’s surface. In most cases the lacquer is designed to prevent these effects but they can appear nevertheless. Heat supports the migration so storage conditions can be important too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this property of Cedar was the real cause. – I don’t mean to question CDT’s integrity; maybe they just weren’t given all the details by the manufacturer.
Wow, I missed this thread by quite a few months. Thanks Gunther and everyone else for adding so much to the discussion (which I thought died out a year or two ago).
I haven’t purchased any more CDT pencils in quite some time (over a year), and thus can’t say much more about the issues I ran into with them. They write just fine even if some are cosmetically imperfect. Of course, they ought to be pretty perfect for the price.
I am happy that the product has not been discontinued, though I hope they can sort the blotching thing out.
Thank you, Robert M., for making us aware of the problem back then. If I had not read about it I would have thought that I am the only one with this problem and hadn’t looked further. – I am still not sure about the reason but I was told that the problem is now solved.
By the way, I have asked CDT if they plan to make the leads available separately for leadholders or even plan to add a leadholder to their product range. They have replied quickly, and I had the impression that they are very open to customer suggestions.
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