Viking Verso HB/4B

The Viking Verso is simply not a double-ended pencil— it is a double-ended pencil with a long, rich history. According to Viking, the Verso was introduced over 150 years ago in Paris at the International Exposition of 1867. Back then a Bavarian company Berolzheimer (sound familar? :) ) & Illfelder released a double-graded pencil. The idea of the double-graded pencil kind of fell off the radar for years until a German blogger and pencil aficionado, Gunther Schmidt (Lexikaliker) brought it to Viking’s attention. The interesting backstory is not the only thing that makes the Viking Verso so special— it is not an easy pencil to manufacture. The problem comes in when the pencils are getting their coats of lacquer and stamping: it is near impossible to tell which end is which. Other double-ended pencils are simple to differentiate as they are red and blue or colored and graphite. Viking had to refine their manufacturing process for the making of this pencil, but the result is super worth it.

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As a non-artist, I thought that I would have no real use for this pencil. After all, writing with a 4B would be a smudgy experience with constant sharpening. I found after a week with this pencil, that that 4B end would come in handy. Most of my pencil use these days is at one of my (3) jobs where I tutor high school students. The format is such that I have to take three-column notes for the students while they are up at the board working on a problem. I use the 4B side to sketch out the three columns and write the headings and then use the HB side to take the actual notes. I also have used the 4B side to underline things in my own personal journal.

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On top of this newfound functionality, the writing experience with the Verso is enjoyable. Like all other Viking pencils I have used, the graphite never has a gritty feel to it, lays down easily true to grade, and erases wonderfully. The finish is a work of art as one side is glossy and the other matte. Several layers of paint have been applied which adds a nice thickness and a softer hex to this pencil. The bright white paint that highlights the Viking brand with its popular Viking ship (a Knarr? Faering?) finishes up the slick look. These pencils aren’t cheap at $3.00 a pop, but are worth the investment— even more so if you are an artist. CW has them in stock and for those of you outside of the US, they can be ordered directly from Viking.

Viking 029 Skoleblyanten

Hello pencil pals!  I am back from about a month long hiatus.  Life-- mainly school, work, and moving to a new place got in the way of my ability to post regular updates.  I apologize for not keeping the blog updated, but going forward I should be back on track.  After all, I have quite the backlog of pencils and projects to post about!  OK.  Now onto this week's pencil, the Viking 029 Skoleblyanten (Skoleblyanten translates to school pencil in Danish).  Viking is a pencil company based out of Denmark and has a 100 year history of making pencils ever since a Danish matchstick company started making pencils.  For a deeper write-up on the history of Viking, head to Bleistift where you will find some great reviews and details about the brand. 20160702_232244

Appearance wise, the Viking 029 is more than just an ordinary yellow school pencil.  From the classic yellow lacquer of a school pencil, to the black stamping of a Viking ship on the hexagonal barrel, and the ferruleless dipped end, the Viking 029 is quite nice to look at.  The Viking 029 not only excels in form, but in function too.  While the pencil is classified as an HB grade, I felt as though it wrote a bit softer and darker than HB grade pencils I am used to.  The graphite is nice a smooth on paper and erases cleanly and easily.  The weight of the Viking 029 is nice.  I usually don't like the lightweight feel to ferruleless pencils, but the Viking 029 has just enough heft to it to feel comfortable.

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I have spent the past few weeks writing with this pencil and I can honestly say that while it writes a little bit darker than a standard HB, its point retention is great.  Breakage was non-existent and no grittiness was felt while writing at any point.  The graphite had almost a soft waxy feel to it, but it didn't crumble like most waxy feeling graphite pencils do.  I can easily say that this pencil will make it into my school year rotation in the Fall.  The Viking 029 can be found at CW Pencil Enterprise for $1.25 a pencil and it is well worth throwing a few in your cart next time you shop.  For more information on Viking's other products check out their beautiful page.