From bleistiftschmerz or, ‘pencil weariness’: the distance measured between the imagined, hoped-for quality of an unknown vintage pencil, and the thorns of pitiless reality.

(Note to self: Don’t be swayed by the word “special”, even if it is stamped on the barrel.)

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11 Responses to Stiftschmerz

  1. Sola says:

    With me this seems to happen most often with Venus pencils. So far.


    • Sean says:

      I’ve had a similar experience with the “drawing” pencils, but the Venus Velvet No. 1 is a really nice pencil, especially the older ones.


  2. memm says:

    With that colour scheme you can still use it as a magic wand, even if it’s not good enough to be a pencil… 8^)


  3. Gunther says:

    Unfortunately even several occurences of stiftschmerz don’t keep one from grabbing yet another pencil with “special” or something similar on it … It looks like there is no simple cure! – The opposite stiftwonne which occurs when a pencil’s quality causes great delight because it is much better than expected seems to be quite rare.


    • Sean says:

      Perhaps it will take a two-tiered approach to cure: first is to find the causes of bleistift scotoma (pencil blind-spot). 🙂

      +1 for stiftwonne


  4. Rick says:

    I have a feeling the clue to your disappointment may lie in the “litho” part of the Colitho product name. Rather than a regular writing pencil these may have been used to correct, or draw upon lithographic duplicating plates, like those used on old Multilith presses. Does the lead or graphite seem greasy? If so, then probably that is a clue as well. Lithography, at the base level, is based on the idea that oil and water won’t mix. The greasiness or oiliness of the “lead” in the pencil would attract the ink to the plate.

    Just a thought.



  5. Rick says:

    I know this is heresy, and I risk being banned from your site for writing such a thing, but my personal stiftschmerz is with Blackwing products, and my stiftswonne came with the PaperMate No. 2 Mongol No. 480’s from Central America.

    I could never understand the semi-orgasmic tributes to Blackwing’s, so I tried a few of them. I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    What would give me true stiftwonne would be to have the old Mongol “Paint-With-Pencils” line of colored pencils be re-introduced. Those were amazing in the quality and richness of the colors and the “just right” feel of the leads on the drawing surfaces. I’m so lucky to have two folding easel display boxes of twenty-four. One is completely unused and the other is about half-used. They belonged to my great-grandfather when he was a Polytechnic student in the 1930’s.


  6. Gunther says:

    Today I have bought a new crank sharpener from Brunnen (most likely made by an OEM) and found out that there is also a spitzerschmerz. I will return this sharpener on the next occasion.


    • Sean says:

      I had a similar case of the ‘schmerz with that Mitsubishi hand-crank sharpener. I will not speak its name for fear someone else might be tempted to try one.


  7. Pingback: Some More Red-and-Blue Pencils | pencilsandotherthings

  8. Sapphire says:

    My case was the KUM two stage sharpener. It started OK but after less than half a dozen uses it started snapping the point off every pencil I tried, no matter how carefully I went.


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