This a-hole wants how much?

Since, it would be legally impertinent, to rant about what I’d like to rant about right now, I’m going to complain about something else I have been putting off complaining about.

One of the great screws of being an Illustrator or an artist is how much good supplies cost.  Even in the age of online stores it’s still expensive.  For example a 3 ounce bottle of quality ink will run you from $3 to $5.  Let me put that  in perspective for you.  Ink has two ingredients water and dye.  Soda has about 49 ingredients and you can get 20 ounces of it for 1.00. People who use oil based paints are laughing at me for complaining about ink, because a set of quality oil pant is close to a monthly car payment.  Brushes, pens, canvas….the good stuff is way over priced compared to tools people in other professions use.  Even when I was a mechanic and looking through the Snap-On catalogue (the gold standard for tools) tools were cheaper…and you could use the same one for the rest of your life. 

The problem is there are not enough of us for the supplies to be mass produced to the point the cost is reasonable.  You see a painting for sale, it probably cost 200.00 just in supplies.  It’s ridiculous, and a little sick.  Sick, because the sellers know we’ll buy it.  They know it’s over priced and they know we have no where else to turn and they know that the side of our brain that scoffs at the cost will be overruled by the side of our brain that is in charge…the “creative side”.  It’s like shopping/sharing expenses with a complete moron…and the moron has the final say.  The moron takes you to the store, picks up a jar of ink the size of a D battery,  and tells you to pay the clerk 5.00.  On the way to the clerk you had passed by gallon jugs of other liquids that are only 1.00 and far more useful than ink.  The 5.00 may not seem like a big sting, but remember the perspective and that it is one example out of many. Every single thing you buy…brushes, paper, decent pencil lead is over priced.  A Snap-On ratchet, which lasts forever, costs less than a quality no.2 brush which will last a year if you are good to it.  The sellers KNOW the moron is in charge, and you know the moron is in charge, and that’s what is sick about it all.

And what’s worse, more and more of this stuff is just being discontinued.  which leaves you and the moron searching for used items.  In theory, used stuff should be cheaper.  it is used, and usually owned by someone who inherited it and has no actual idea of the value, or what the hell it even is.  “In theory”.  When someone has no actual idea of the value it, can go one of two ways- You can get it for far less than it is worth, or they can expect far more than it is actually worth.  You can guess where this is going…but first…

For about a year now I have been searching for a drafting tool called a centrolinead.  It is basically three straight edges that come together and can be adjusted.  It’s for making an illustration where the vanishing points would come out far beyond the edges of your table.

Here’s a video some guy ( not me) did that gives you the basic idea of how it works.  (btw, for reasons I cannot fathom…many of you want me to do more how to videos…so I guess I will starting next month)


Here’s a crappy, but functional, one that anyone could make.


Here’s a fancy one.


They don’t make them anymore, but when they did, they were churning them out none stop.  Just about every Korean War generation student who took a drafting class in high school used/had one.  And apparently threw them away, because I have not seem ONE SINGLE CENTROLINEAD FOR SALE ONLINE…ANYWHERE.  Haven’t seen one at a thrift store, estate sale or rummage sale.  Not one.  This vexes me, not because I couldn’t easily make one myself ( I have, it works nice) but because I am usually very good at tracking stuff down.

I’ve been looking and run across every single drafting tool besides that.  I’ll admit to having an entire collection of old drafting tools, ink bottles, and vintage stuff related to illustrating that I will never use. 


I have that cabinet and a full drawer of old drafting tools. I guess you could call it a hobby, if it were fun.  it’s mostly aggravating.

Lemme tell you why.  These “tools” are obscure, mostly useless in this day and age, and sought after by almost no one else.  Anything I don’t buy is probably going to get thrown out.  Having said that, THIS is what every ebay listing for a drafting tool SHOULD look like.


THIS is a fair ad, given the laws of supply and demand and simple honesty.  Yes lister, that is a drafting tool.  It is a compass for making circles slightly smaller than a dime.  It has an attachment to pencil the circle and one to ink the circle. I’ve used this before, it’s a giant pain in the ass and made obsolete long ago by the invention of templates which were made obsolete by photoshop.  So…it is worth about 1.00.

That is what a listing for a drafting tool should look like.  But it is an aberration.  Here is what a lot of them look like.



THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Can you believe this dickbag?  It’s a drafting set…they made about a million of them a year for 70 years.  They are all over the place.  Go to any estate sale, past the cracked and faded X-mass ornaments, past the table of novelty cologne bottles shaped like race cars or the Eiffel tower, past the box of Montavoni records, and you will find a shoe box full or crap like this.  A shoebox the deceased had in his/her attic, that their kids found when they died and threw in the corner next to sixteen pickle jars full of assorted nuts and bolts.  They….are…everywhere.  and yet, people on ebay think they are worth a lot of money. 

“Vintage” it says…in another 30 years a computer mouse will be vintage, good luck getting 300.00 for one of those.  “German” it says, most of them where made in Germany, this will be like adding “Chinese”  to your mouse listing.  What a a-hole.

His “vintage” 300.00 set is essentially the same as this one


and that one comes with what passed for a lewd picture 60 years ago.

The 300.00 listing is par for the course, unfortunately.  Every drafting tool I ever have any interest in is so overpriced it never gets any bids, and gets listed about 4 times before the seller gives up, and either throws it out or puts it in a shoebox in her/her attic for his/her idiot kids to discover after they die.

It’s annoying because some of this stuff would look nice in my collection.  Some of it I want, but I can’t justify to myself paying more than 4.00 for something I’ll never use, that no one gives a crap about but me, that will NEVER go up in value.  Just because something gets older and more rare doesn’t mean it’s becoming worth more money.  No one wants it now.  In 20 years it’ll be something no one wants , that is 20 years older.  Yet these jackasses act like it’s a Babe Ruth rookie card. 

Maybe there are a couple of other weirdos here or there, but this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, items that have collectible value.  And they sure as hell don’t have practical value…even as stubborn as I am, I use photoshop more and more.

People collect baseball cards, fishing lures, records, pez dispensers, I don’t know anyone who collects old drafting tools.  People collect things, often times, because it brings back a warm and fuzzy feeling from their past. Old drafting tools are torture to use and no one other than myself and masochists are interested in collecting things that are aggravating.

Most of these people don’t even know what any of it is, they just know it’s old and for drafting and so…it must be valuable.

When they list stuff as  “lot” it’s really adding insult to injury.  They don’t bother to make it look nice or even pretend to have any idea what any of the stuff is. They just dump the shoebox out onto the table and pick a price out of thin air.  This “lot” lists for 65.00


Most of this is literally garbage. LITERALLY. A bunch of that stuff is broken for f*cks sake.  I see here rointers missing their other half, the wood on the parallel ruler ( thing on the bottom) is split and tapped together.  They even put the torn/dry rotted case from the set (which I am sure smells like a wet library) in the picture …because f*ck you, I know the moron in charge is eyeballing the set on the upper left and is willing to buy all the rest of this sh*t just to get it.  Yeah? well, the jokes on you, the Moron already made me buy one of those last year.

Here’s another “Lot”


Originally 189.00.  Talk about just pulling a price out of your ass.  “hey here’s another box of grandpa’s old drafting stuff…should I throw it out?” 

“nah, it might be worth something, it’s old”

“how much should I put on it”


It’s the redundancy of listings like this that really annoy me.  There are multiples of every item in that listing.  These are NOT things you need multiples of.  What am I going to do, keep 6 mechanical drafting pencils and give the rest out at X-mass?


There are FOUR sharpeners for a mechanical drafting pencil there ( (no.1 and no.2).  Who needs four?  One for home, one for the office, one for your glovebox and one for your travel bag?  I have one of these by the way and they are good for sh*t.  They constantly snap the lead right off. It’s a crap design.  Of course…the one I have isn’t quite as cool looking as the three on the lower left.  It’s more like the bigger one above them…those must be an older design, I don’t have one like…NO!  SHUT UP MORON WE’RE NOT BUYING THIS LOT FOR ONE PENCIL SHARPENER. Wait…WHOAH…is that ( no.3) a stick of 2mm pencil lead that is ORANGE?!…hmmm…I can’t make out from the pic, but the rest of that lead looks purple/”non print lead”, one of the Holy Grails of discontinued lead. The other being White lead, which everyone thinks I imagined, but I know it existed.  Non-photo lead, is light blue and would not show up when the printer would shoot film of your illustration, so you don’t have to erase it.   Non-PRINT lead, is essentially the same thing but it is purple.  Many a time I would go to an art supply store asking if the had non-print and they would correct me….correct ME…

saying “oh you mean non-photo lead”. 

“No you ignorant Philistine. non-PRINT lead” I would retort! 

They would declare there is/was no such thing and I am confusing the two.  Non-print was long, long, long ago discontinued. I have TWO sticks of this type lead.  I am saving them for a special occasion, like one day slamming them down on the counter to prove they existed. That sure looks like Non-Print in this lot though…oh no…nope…Not looking any further at this listing. I WON’T.

These aren’t things you put together in a “lot”.  There is no practical use to almost any of this crap, much less any value in having more than one of any of it.  (189.00..sigh, I bet that is non-print lead in there, oh well.)

Along those lines, get a load of this-

pencrapalsoThey are mechanical dip pens.  You adjust to the width you want, dip it in ink and then you can make a straight line…that is the ONLY type line you can make with one of these.  It won’t allow you to make a curve.  So it’s like a technical pen…but worse.  They were in every single drafting set, and you find them listed by themselves because whoever owned the drafting set threw it across the room in aggravation at some point and it never got put back with the rest of the set. They are ugly, useless, and indestructible….so you will only ever need one.  Wait…who said “need”?  Quiet, moron. The point is having more that one is pointless.  Did I mention you can adjust these?  yet it’s listed as “different sizes”…that would be like listing four -one size fits all- baseball caps as “different sizes”.  BTW the one on the far right is missing the handle, apparently that qualifies and being a “different size”.

rulercrapAnother redundant lot.  No one needs 6 of these things.  You know how the original owner ended up with six?  Five of his co-workers started using something better and put theirs in his desk as a joke.  30.00


Here’s a real laughter for you…


A 30 year old electric eraser, that will blow all your fuses and start an electrical fire the minute you plug it in.   It comes complete with a couple dozen 40 year old erasers that I guarantee are hard as a rock by now and would chew right through the paper.  60.00.  For what?!  You can’t use the f*cking thing, what is someone going to do with it?  Put it in some nice shadow box frame and hang it in their office?  A frame of 28 dried up erasers and what looks like a vibrator for a gremlin? What is the a-hole who listed this thinking?  I ask you…what? Even my inner Moron thinks this would be a waste of money…mostly.

Here’s another oddity, and by “oddity” I mean something someone thought was rare, but isn’t’

lettering crap

They made a bizillion of these things. Back in the day this was how most lettering was done…here’s better pics, then I’ll explain how it works-

lettering crap2

lettering crap3 You line up one of the guides then dip one end of that wierd looking triangle thing in some ink, then drop another end into the guide for say, the letter “R”,  you move the end all around the “R” grove and the inked end has drawn a letter “R”. 

lettering crap4

Repeat for every letter of a word and you have have inked one single word.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

“Why wouldn’t they just use a stencil and technical pen?”

That’s a good question, one that someone asked about 50 years ago…and then they stopped making these things.  They are beyond useless today, but since they were usually in fancy looking boxes they never got thrown out.  As near as I can tell every last one ever made still exists and is shuffled on and off ebay like servers on a volley ball team.  I never see one sell.  My inner moron would like to point out that this is how the early EC comics like Tales from the Crypt where lettered and it would be a cool thing to have.  Yeah, I’d like one, but not for 40.00.  I’ll use it once and put it in the drawer.  If you add up all the time I’ll even see the thing for all of the rest of my life it’ll amount to maybe 4 minutes.   That’s 10.00 a minute…This is how I talk my inner moron out of buying any of this stuff, otherwise my drawer full of old drafting tools would become a room full of old drafting tools…or more accurately a shopping cart full of old drafting tools because I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent and end up homeless. 

And by the way, the lose parts in that box don’t have anything to do with that lettering set, they are for a technical pens, which whoever owned this bought after he was done torturing himself with this lettering set.

The other problem with people listing crap like that stuff so high is that people who list stuff, that I and the moron actually actually agree on, see that and assume there is some market for old drafting tools and follow suit with their pricing.  Like this thing.



This is how they made dotted lines back in the day.   You dip that adjustable pen tip in ink, then hold it on it’s side (I guess with that gear touching a ruler) and slide it down the ruler, the little gear makes the pen bob up and down making dots rather than a solid line. This thing is really cool.  Useless today, but really cool.  I don’t have one of these and I don’t see them much, but I ain’t dropping 50.00 on it, so it’ll sit on ebay until the listing ends and get thrown out.

This thing is even cooler and I could actually use it.

elipsographThat weird contraption, through the magic of levers and a slide, makes perfect ovals.  Makes them in any size you want, any degree of oval from almost a circle to very flat and wide.  You can attach a pencil or there is a connector to ink with it.


I really want one of these things.  The problem is two fold- 1- they are rare, and 2- they are actually useful.  So this is one instance where there is some demand.  Oddly enough, they usually end up selling for only 30.00 after bidding is over.  That is actually a deal.  Why these things are listed for less than most “drafting sets” is beyond me.  I don’t have one yet because…I’m a cheap skate and bid once, about .25 more than the last guy, and then forget to check back on it until it’s too late.

Anyways…there’s your blog this week. I’ll bitch about something more relevant some other time.

when Douglas is not complaining, he and his work can be found here


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One Comment

  1. This is actually really useful as I have seen all of these interesting looking tools on Ebay but had no idea what, or how, they were used (aside from drafting sets). Now I know not to waste the money!

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