Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 404

If you went to school in North America or Europe, chances are you've come across a Staedtler Mars plastic eraser (the white ones that worked well and didn't leave "eraser dust" behind) and/or Staedtler's wood pencils (the blue & black 'Lumograph' and/or the yellow & black 'Noris' pencils which are very popular in the UK).

The company behind these products was founded in Nuremburg, Germany in 1835 and in the years since then, Staedtler has grown into a stationery manufacturing powerhouse with over 2,300 employees and nine manufacturing facilities worldwide. In addition to writing instruments, the company also makes technical drawing products, art materials and accessories such as erasers and pencil sharpeners. Staedtler's products are known for their overall high quality, and these ballpoints below are no exception.

Meet my Staedtler 'Triplus 444' ballpoint & Staedtler 'Initium' "Lignum" ballpoint in plum wood :

(please click on images to enlarge)

In September 2013, the local Staedtler rep (Valerie) dropped by one of our pen club meetings, back when they were held at Perks pen store. She had some information about Staedtler's new line of fine writing instruments (which included fountain pens, something they hadn't produced in a while) and brought a couple of examples in ballpoint form---one made of plum wood and another made of glossy black resin--to show us.

Well, I never forgot about that gorgeous plum wood ballpoint, so last May, I finally bought one for myself!
I paid $60 USD + $18 USD shipping and import fees (about $97 CAD total, at the time) for mine via They were never cheap to begin with (I think that's why I held off on buying one), and they were getting more difficult to find for a reasonable price, so I jumped at the chance to get one for less than $100 CAD shipped.

The barrel is crafted from stained plum wood and uses a twist-action mechanism, accepting Staedtler's ("Parker-style") refills. According to my measurements, the pen measures 12.4 cm in length, has a 12.5mm barrel diameter and weighs 28.8 grams empty. I should note that the plum wood was originally a little lighter when I got the pen, but I applied a thin layer of olive oil (I should have used a lighter oil) to it and it darkened the wood a bit. The lighting in these photos is a bit subdued --the pen looks lighter in direct sunlight.

Staedtler's 'Initium' line was made in Germany and consists of writing instruments made from a wide variety of  materials, which are reflected in the model names--"Lignum" (made of wood), "Resina" (resin), "Metallum" (metal) and "Corium" (leather). All of the models were available in ballpoint, fountain pen, rollerball and mechanical pencil forms.


I have a Staedtler '760' triangular mechanical pencil that's really comfortable to hold, so when I saw the triangular 'Triplus 444' ballpoint in a local art supply store (Sublime), I thought it'd be equally comfortable to use (turns out I was right!). I paid $19.99 + tax for my "Radiant Rose" example.

Side note: I didn't know there was a Staedtler 'Triplus' fountain pen until I started writing this review, but apparently, it won a 2021 Red Dot design award. Aside from the 'Triplus', the 'Initium', the 'TRX', the 'Calligraphy' and
the '470', I can't find any other Staedtler fountain pens made in the modern era (aside from a few ultra-expensive LEs). It looks like the company is focusing more on non-fountain pen writing instruments (and there's nothing wrong with that)...

(I think this photo shows its true colour -- it's more of a dusty rose-- a bit better)

The 'Triplus 444' ballpoint has an all-metal triangular body, uses a push button mechanism, and also takes Staedtler's ("Parker-style") refills. I tried a Parker refill in it and it fits perfectly, but sometimes you need to double-click the pen to retract the mechanism. According to my measurements, it's about 14.8 cm long, has a barrel diameter of 12.5mm (same as my 'Initium'  plum wood ballpoint) and weighs 24.2 grams with no refill inside.

The 'Triplus 444' ballpoint is currently available in four matte colors - "Antique Anthracite", "Glorious Gold", "Roaring Red" and "Radiant Rose". The packaging (a simple hang-card) indicates that the pen was made in China.

Above: The Staedtler Mars logo debossed on top of the pens' clicker buttons

This logo depicts the helmeted head of Mars, the Roman god of war. Since 1908, when they introduced their Mars lines of pencils, Staedtler has used various iterations of this logo on their products (Staedtler Mars logos over the decades
). This newest logo was introduced in 2001.

The 'Triplus' has a glossy, smooth metal clip, whereas the 'Initium' Lignum's is matte, textured and chrome-plated. Both clips have three shallow rectangular indentations, which suit the clean, modern designs of the pens.

 The Staedtler name is tastefully engraved on the back of each pen...

...and if you look closely, you can see "Made in Germany" engraved on the plum wood 'Initium' (at the top of the grip area) in the photo above. The 'Triplus 444' isn't marked with its country of manufacture, as far as I can see.

I find the 'Triplus' more comfortable to hold because it has an ergometric grip (I naturally use a three-finger grip) and its surface is slightly textured. The 'Initium's metal grip area is smoother than the Triplus', so it's a bit slicker, but if I used a four-finger grip (as some people do), I'd probably find the 'Initium' easier to hold. Because I'm a high-gripper, I hold the 'Initium' at the top of its grip section. I find both pens to be well-balanced and not overly heavy even though they're not what I consider"light" pens.

Both are great ballpoints that are well-made, write smoothly and feel good in the hand. The plum wood 'Initium' shows more craftsmanship, feels more substantial in the hand and looks much nicer...and that's (naturally) reflected in its price. It's such a beautiful ballpoint, but I wish it were a little less expensive; I'd love to get another 'Initium' in a different material. We'll see... If I do get one, I won't wait another eight years :)

(~photos and review by Maja)

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