Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pencil Review: Staedtler Norica HB

The Staedtler Norica can be thought of as the poor cousin of the Staedtler Mars Lumograph.  At first glance, you might even mistake the Norica for the Lumograph.  Both are blue, hexagonal wooden pencils, but the Norica is a duller, almost grey blue, and it has a silver-tone ferrule with a white eraser on the end - features that the Mars Lumograph lacks.

Another good clue?  The Norica is also much more affordable than the Lumograph - not surprising for a pencil that is marked as a general everyday writing pencil rather than as an artist's sketching and drawing pencil.  But the Norica is actually quite a good general everyday writing pencil.  The lead is nice and dark, and that eraser on the end isn't bad either.  It wouldn't be very good for any large-scale erasing, but for making a quick correction to your writing, it erases quite cleanly and well.

The eraser is also latex-free, the lead is supposedly "break-resistant", and the Norica is available in two degrees, HB and 2H.  Based on this post at pencil talk, it looks as though different versions of the Norica may exist, depending on what part of the world you're in.  Mine's from Canada, and I can't say anything about any of the others out there.

Overall, I really like this pencil.  If I hadn't already discovered the Lumograph, the Norica probably would have become my favourite wooden pencil.  It is step above similar everyday writing pencils (such as the Dixon No.2/HB, which is by far the most commonly used pencil (or at least the most commonly lost pencil) in local schools), yet it is still easily affordable.  If you're looking for a good basic pencil, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Staedtler Norica.

Related review: pencil talk.


  1. That's not one I've seen here in the UK - the closest equivalent seems to be the black and yellow striped "Noris" (limited grades, inexpensive, popular in schools).

    I've not used the "Noris", but Staedtler's second least expensive pencil here (the black and red striped "Tradition") was a bit of a scratchy disappointment (to be fair, I'd only just stopped drawing with a Lumograph when I tried it :) )

    1. It's always confusing when companies produce different kinds of pencils or pens for different parts of the world. If you ever do come across a Norica, it's not too bad - although certainly not quite the quality of a Lumograph.

  2. John, they used to be made in Wales. I think they even used to be available in Tesco, five to ten years ago.

  3. Heather, thanks for the great post about Norica - it's one of my favourites too! But as you say, it is definitely for writing not for drawing.

    John, the Norica is available in the UK (with and without eraser tip), I suggest emailing them to find out where you can purchase within the UK (

    STAEDTLER-Mars Limited, North America

  4. Hello Heather,

    Did you ever try the Staedtler Rally Pencil? If so, how does it compare to the Norica and/or the Mars Lumograph?

    1. Sorry, I haven't tried the Staedtler Rally. I actually hadn't even heard of it before :)

      Just did a quick Google search, and it's a nice-looking pencil, at least; I may have to give it a try one day.

  5. I've done some videos on Youtube (rixcandoit) featuring the Norica (the black version common in US). I've just purchased the Blue version online and will compare with the Black when it arrives (and do another video on that). But what I will say about the (black) Norica is that it is an exceptional pencil for a price that is so so cheap. Smooth and dark. My pencil collection is quite large with all the major players, and so I've compared it to all and its way at the top. I also have the Rally, Noris, Mark-2B and Tradition to compare to. Norica, in my opinion, write much smoother/darker than all these (with exception of Mark-2B, but that is a 2B and not HB). Great value and worth stocking up on (as I have done).


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