Ein bemer­kens­wer­ter Blei­stift ist der über­di­men­sio­nale Jumbo-uni von Mitsu­bi­shi, der ein­zeln auf einer Karte abge­ben wurde.


Mit einer Länge von 24,9 cm und einem Durch­mes­ser von 11,2 mm (Schlüs­sel­weite 10 mm) über­trifft er sein nor­mal­gro­ßes Pen­dant deutlich.


Bis auf den Zusatz „Jumbo“ sind die Auf­dru­cke nahezu gleich; Strich­code und Blind­prä­gung gibt es auf dem Jumbo-uni nicht.


Er trägt aller­dings zwei zusätz­li­che Kenn­zeich­nun­gen, doch …


… ich habe keine Ahnung, auf was sich »85th ”Thanks­gi­ving” anni­ver­sary« bezieht; so kenne ich auch nicht das Alter die­ses Bleistifts.


Die Zei­chen „非売品“ bedeu­ten „Nicht zum Ver­kauf“.


Die Mine des Jumbo-uni ist 3 mm dick.


Ein schö­nes Stück!

18 Kommentare zu „Jumbo-uni“

  1. Gun­ther, I can help you out here. (From your posts I had thought you somehow spoke Japa­nese, but…?). The first page I hit upon says that the Jumbo-Uni was a limited-edition pen­cil pro­du­ced in 1971 to com­me­mo­rate the company’s 85th anni­ver­sary (Mitsu­bi­shi Pen­cils was foun­ded in 1887). It was not for sale but was given away as a free gift to cus­to­mers who bought 1-dozen packs. Evi­dently there was a ちびユニ(„shorty-Uni“) in 1981 too.


    „Thanks­gi­ving“ is pro­ba­bly an embar­ras­sing mis­trans­la­tion. Japa­nese com­pa­nies do a lot of those „thank you to our faithful cus­to­mers“ kind of spe­cial campaigns/sales at every oppor­tu­nity and I would guess this was just such an event ;)

  2. http://www.nttcom.co.jp/comzine/no023/long_seller/

    This is a much more inte­res­t­ing and aut­ho­ri­ta­tive article.

    When Uni first went on sale in Octo­ber 1958, Mitsu­bi­shi exe­cu­ti­ves were in fact worried about its pro­s­pects. At that time, you could go to a public bath for 16 yen. A cup of cof­fee cost 50 yen. In that era, to price one pen­cil at 50 yen was auda­cious – a great risk. If the gam­ble fai­led, Mitsu­bi­shi would not be able to sell even its 30-yen pen­cils. But it was a runa­way suc­cess. It had rode the wave of the Japa­nese eco­no­mic boom at a per­fect time. The sales were such that Mitsu­bi­shi had to switch to boxes that could be machine-made in its sixth year of Uni pro­duc­tion because the ori­gi­nal hand­made boxes could not keep up with demand.

    The pri­cier Unis made bet­ter pro­fits for Mitsu­bi­shi, and the com­pany spared no effort in pro­mo­ting the brand. It put up dedi­ca­ted Uni cor­ners in sta­tio­nery stores. It also laun­ched a num­ber of free givea­way cam­paigns, such as the Jumbo-Uni in 1971 and the ユニ坊主 (Uni-bozu) era­ser (both pic­tu­red) in 1972. Child­ren often bought Unis for the giveaways. [..]

  3. That part was only the part con­cer­ned with the Jumbo-Uni. I think the fea­ture was part of an ongo­ing series high­light­ing top-quality Japa­nese pro­ducts („long-sellers“) and it talks about Japa­nese pen­cil pro­duc­tion and artisans and qua­lity con­trol too. It might be worth rea­ding – and if you need help feel free to ask :)

  4. Sola, thank you for these exci­ting details and for your offer! I don’t speak Japa­nese so I need every help I can get :-) I will try to access the page’s con­tents with an auto­ma­ted trans­la­tion; maybe this will help.

    Do you know of the bro­chure which was issued on the occas­sion of Tombow’s 100th anni­ver­sary in 2013? I was lucky to get a copy, and I find it abso­lut­ely ama­zing for seve­ral reasons. I men­tion this because both the artic­les you have lin­ked to and the bro­chure include cul­tu­ral aspects which make a dif­fe­rent view and a bet­ter under­stan­ding of the company’s decis­i­ons pos­si­ble (of course this is espe­ci­ally inte­res­t­ing in view of the big dif­fe­ren­ces of Wes­tern and Japa­nese culture).

  5. Yes, I agree that there are dif­fe­ren­ces, but there is also a real affi­nity bet­ween Ger­many and Japan too, two great engi­nee­ring nati­ons :) There are simi­la­ri­ties in cor­po­rate cul­ture too, one based on small-and mid-sized firms taking decis­i­ons for the lon­ger term… or so they say in the news, don’t they?

    I know there was a limited-edition anni­ver­sary tin set of pen­cils, but I didn’t try to get them or the bro­chure because I’m not a Tom­bow fan. I’m actually not that much of a Uni fan eit­her, but I have a spe­cial affec­tion for Mitsu­bi­shi because they were the pen­cils of my child­hood. If there are pages in the bro­chure you abso­lut­ely need to read and you find it a hassle to put through the trans­la­tor, scan it and email it to me and I will trans­late it for you. I still wasn’t sure yes­ter­day whe­ther you could speak Japa­nese or not ;)

  6. Gun­ther, I think I will work on the Com­zine article, I only skim­med it yes­ter­day and I would like to read it for mys­elf too. I’m pretty fast so it won’t take up much time. I will send it to you once I finish – but maybe you have other artic­les you are curious about? Don’t hesi­tate to ask :)

  7. Yes, there is an affi­nity, but I think that the dif­fe­ren­ces must not be igno­red. I am not very fami­liar with Japan’s cor­po­rate cul­ture but e. g. in Ger­many the rela­ti­onship bet­ween com­pany and em­ployee is not as close as it is in Japan were it also shapes a large part of the employee’s free time. Bes­i­des that there are con­sidera­ble dif­fe­ren­ces in deal­ing with mista­kes (at least as far as I know). But I am no expert, and the cor­po­rate cul­ture both in Japan and Ger­many will most likely vary across a wide range.

    Thank you very much for your offer but for­t­u­na­tely my copy of the bro­chure is in Eng­lish :-) By the way, the lay­out and the design of the bro­chure is stun­ning too. – May I ask why you aren’t a Tom­bow fan? I’m not a die-hard fan eit­her but some pro­ducts are really great. – Regar­ding child­hood: I have fond memo­ries of using Staedt­ler and Eber­hard Faber pen­cils as a young boy so this might have shaped my rela­ti­onship to these brands :-)

    Re your trans­la­tion: Wow, that’s great! I would love to read it. – Thank you for your offer. There is not­hing which comes to my mind at the moment but if it is OK with you I’ll take up on your offer on the next occasion.

  8. The reason I’m not a Tom­bow fan is pro­ba­bly cul­tu­ral. In Korea, Tom­bow was and is first and fore­most an art pen­cil. Art stu­dents live and brea­the Tom­bow 4B. Also, there are many vari­ants of the Tom­bow available : the Mono 100, Mono R, Mono J, etc. etc. But it remains an artist’s tool and I am not an artist. Simple :)

    For ordi­nary stu­dents the tool of choice would be mecha­ni­cal pen­cils. Asian stu­dents are intro­du­ced very early on to mecha­ni­cal pen­cils, and there are many available. This is where ano­ther dif­fe­rence emer­ges bet­ween Mitsu­bi­shi and Tom­bow: Mitsu­bi­shi is a big com­pany and a major player, so it pro­du­ces all kinds of pens and pen­cils, so even if you move on from pen­cils you stay with the brand. With Tom­bow there isn’t that much of an oppor­tu­nity to deve­lop any kind of affi­nity for it, unless you hap­pen to study art. 

    I know that Tom­bow also has a long history behind it and it also makes gene­ral wri­ting pen­cils, and if you ask a Japa­nese per­son her ans­wer might be dif­fe­rent, but I doubt it. Mitsu­bi­shi is just too big and ubi­qui­tous and you come to love it :)

  9. Thank you for sha­ring the cul­tu­ral aspects which are almost unac­ces­si­ble to those not fami­liar with the lan­guage in these count­ries. Yes, I can believe that a pencil’s image can cause peo­ple turn away from it.

    Re 4B: This explains why this grade appears more often than other soft gra­des (at least I have the impres­sion). There are at least two pen­cils from Tom­bow and Mitsu­bi­shi which are only avail­able in 4B and 6B, inclu­ding this one.

    I was (and still am) sur­pri­sed about the variety of mecha­ni­cal pen­cils from Japan and their ingenu­ity (just think of Pilot’s Shaker mecha­nism or the Mitusbishi/uni Kuru Toga). Mitsubishi’s range is indeed remar­kable – I didn’t know how much they offer until I got a cata­lo­gue from 2008.

    Are there any sta­tis­tics about the mar­ket share of Tom­bow and Mitsu­bi­shi pencils?

  10. Re 4B: yes, this is indeed the „stan­dard“ grade for art stu­dents. Maybe in Europe stu­dents are freer to choose?

    I have orde­red the Pen­man­ship pen­cil too (along with the 9850, ano­ther recent dis­co­very) and I am loo­king for­ward to it!

    There is an inte­res­t­ing page that shows the over­all sta­tis­tics for the year 2012-2013. The first graph shows the over­all figu­res for the indus­try, the second chan­ges in volume over the years, and the third lists the top 10 play­ers by sales figures.


    The vast majo­rity of the com­pa­nies lis­ted are Office Depot-type firms that sell ever­y­thing from stap­lers to fur­ni­ture. The con­su­mer brands fami­liar to us are: Kokuyo at No. 1 (wow), Pilot at No. 6, Mitsu­bi­shi Pen­cils (not to be con­fu­sed with the con­glo­me­rate) at No. 8, and pos­si­bly King Jim (makes label prin­ting machi­nes and pla­s­tic binders).

    Links below the list show fur­ther lis­ting by total sales figu­res, net income, num­ber of employees etc. and I am happy to see that Mitsu­bi­shi and Pilot make it to the top 3 in the bet­ter lists :)

  11. http://www.nikkei.com/news/print-article/?R_FLG=0&bf=0&ng=DGXZZO35917650W1A021C1000000

    This is ano­ther article you might want to run on Google Translate.

    The gist of the article is that alt­hough the stationery/office pro­ducts indus­try is shrin­king year by year, the num­ber of bou­ti­ques, pro­ducts, fairs and over­all con­su­mer inte­rest have grown expo­nen­ti­ally, so much that peo­ple talk of a „sta­tio­nery boom“. Books and maga­zi­nes pro­li­fe­rate on the sub­ject. This curious phe­no­me­non can para­do­xi­cally be explai­ned in part by the endu­ring reces­sion – as com­pa­nies cut down on sta­tio­nery expen­ses, indi­vi­dual con­su­mers seek that „small, ever­y­day plea­sure“ of having beau­tiful things around them, which is rela­tively inex­pen­sive com­pared to other goods.

  12. Re Tom­bow: I went through all the links in the first article and Tom­bow does not appear in any of them. Can it be that they are owned by a dif­fer­ently named com­pany. I don’t think so. I also don’t see Pen­tel. If I’m not mista­ken, it just means that they are very small ;)

  13. Oh and I for­got to add: the only Tom­bow pro­duct I remem­ber from my youth, apart from the Mono 100s, are the era­sers. They make fan­ta­stic era­sers, but this too is eclip­sed by the Ain!

  14. Thank you – this explains the popu­la­rity of that grade. I am not fami­liar with the choices Eurpoean [art] stu­dents have so I don’t know if there is some kind of standard.

    You will enjoy both the Pen­man­ship pen­cil and the 9850. If you compare the first with the Mistu­bi­shi Hi-uni in the cor­re­spon­ding gra­des you will notice that the Pen­man­ship wri­tes con­sider­a­bly smoot­her. If I remem­ber cor­rectly Mistu­bi­shi state that a spe­cial impreg­na­ting oil is used but I think that there is more to that pen­cil, e. g. a finer ground gra­phite and clay or – even more pro­ba­ble to me – a dif­fe­rent pro­cess in which the mix­ture is kne­a­ded lon­ger and firmer as to com­press the mate­rial more and to break open con­glo­me­ra­tes. To use this pen­cil is an exci­ting experience!

    Thank you for the link to the sta­tis­tics; I will have a clo­ser look. – Unfort­u­na­tely the second link doesn’t work.

    The phe­no­men you are describ­ing is indeed curious!

    The fact that neither Tom­bow nor Pen­tel appear in that list is strange – both aren’t small com­pa­nies, at least seen from here ;-)

    Yes, Tombow’s era­sers are great. I am not fami­liar with the Ain era­sers (their many vari­ants puz­zle me) but the best I have found so far is the Hinode­wa­shi Matomaru-kun; its only draw­back is the fra­gi­lity but if you hold it close to the tip this isn’t a problem.

  15. Pingback: The Pencils of My Childhood: Mitsubishi 9800 and others | pencilsandotherthings

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