I bought a pencil sharpener today.
As my sister pointed out, I probably actually have a pencil sharpener already (just a few) so…uh?
This is an antique/vintage one. It is an FTE Modell 120 – no idea when it was built, but late 1960s is favourite. It is manufactured out of Bakelite. It reminds me of an old telephone. It looks nothing like a phone.
[oh god the new editor is killing me here]
I like the shape of it.
I have a lot of sharpeners. There are various reasons for this a) finding myself caught in flagrante delit of needing to sharpen a pencil, b) losing them and c) hoarding good ones in case I lose them. My definition of good tended to be “Faber Castell”.
This was fine except I have now a lot of pencils and they aren’t all the same size. There are a bunch of pencils which are slightly larger than standard. I could not keep track of which pencil sharpener fitted which pencils but often, it was very much “whichever one fits this pencil is not one of the 7 sharpeners I happen to have to hand”. As an additional problem, I could not sharpen charcoal pencils in any of my handheld pencils without killing both blades and pencils. So in desperation one day I bought the Staedler rotary sharpener. Sure, it was more expensive than the hand helds I had, even the brass ones with the killer sharp blades, but then, so were the charcoal pencils that I was going through like they were going out of fashion. The only other rotary sharpener I could find at the time was the Caran d’Ache Matterhorn, either standard or limited edition, and being Caran d’Ache and solid metal, they were way over the odds for testing.
The Staedtler worked nicely. It’s plastic which I wasn’t so lost on but there’s decent capacity for shavings, and it sharpened the charcoal pencils. A month later I bought a limited edition Matterhorn for no other reason than I liked it. I refuse to sharpen the charcoals in it which is why I have two mechanical sharpeners on my desk. This brings us to today’s purchase of an FTE. I use pencils at work and I wanted a rotary sharpener. I wanted it to be a bit more solid than plastic, but not as expensive as the Matterhorn (which is jewellery level pricy). The vintage fair seemed a possible source and the FTE rocked up at it. The seller knocked 5 euro of the price, and it was much less than the cost of a new Staedler, so I bought it. It works. I’ve sharpened a Blackwing in it. So the FTE is going to work.
FTE was a manufacturer I wasn’t familiar with, so I looked it up. It was a factory in the GDR – and apparently when the sharpeners were sold in the 1960s they cost 13.50DM which by the standards of the time was not cheap.
I see a lot of them on eBay.de and they aren’t uncommon as such – the ex-East block seemed to make a lot of mechanical sharpeners as I’ve seen Czech models on sale too, nearly all Bakelite. I like the shape of this and it put a reasonably decent point on the pencil so I’m happy enough about it.
god it is a rabbit hole though, these mechanical sharpening machines. The standard colour of the Matterhorn is grey. I want it. I also want the Red limited edition (no longer available) and the Black limited edition (no longer available). And there are a couple of really nice AW Faber ones of which I want one particular one. I have visions of a shelf of about 8 mechanical sharpeners… and a lot of people going “what is she like?”