In a previous post I was curious about the details concerning Eberhard Faber’s early years as the head of the A.W. Faber agency in New York, and what ultimately led to the split with the family in Stein. As part of the research I’ve been doing on the three Faber brothers I came across testimony that Eberhard Faber gave in a New York court case regarding the will of a man called Henry Parish. The brothers of Mr. Parish contested the validity of three codicils attached to the will, and spent some six years in the New York court system trying to have them disqualified.
The sheer volume of witnesses and testimony is staggering, but Eberhard Faber’s brief cameo is of interest because it is a primary source: he himself describes his early years in America. While it would have been easy just to provide a bullet-point summary I’ve included most of the original text below, which (for me at least) is more compelling—a voice speaking directly to us from the past. (NB: He would have been 34 years old at the time of his testimony.)
“I first came to this country in 1849, the latter part of August; one of my brothers, Lothar Faber commenced the business of manufacturing pencils in 1839, and the other, John, commenced two years after; A.W. was the name of my grandfather, and he established the factory in 1761; as far as I recollect, pencils of that manufacture first sold in this country in 1840; I know that by the correspondence between my brother and the party here in New York; the mark A. W. Faber has always been on the pencils I believe, and was on the pencils sent to this country in 1840, and subsequently Nov. 1, 1851. I took the whole stock of pencils which were here from another party who had the agency before C. D. W. Lilliendahl, and then the next pencils which were sent from the factory to this city were sent to me, and invoices made out in my name; on 1 Nov., 1851, I opened a place of business at 133 William street [...] the business of the sale of our pencils in this country is extensive; there is no other set of pencils sold in this county so extensively; the sale or repute first became considerable here about 1846; the first year I came to this country I did no business, the second year I was traveling partly for pleasure and partly for Mr. Lilliendahl in the pencil business; I was engaged in this pencil business in Europe, as clerk, for the half year preceding my departure; before that I was not engaged in any capacity.”
EBERHARD FABER—June, 1857
So, by 1861 he was running the factory which was ostensibly built for A.W. Faber but would eventually become the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company. And for many decades to come, slogans would cite 1849 as the company’s founding year. If that’s true, then one must presume that it was Eberhard’s intention to form his own company from the moment he stepped off the boat.
Next I’d like to know when it was he first started thinking about branching off on his own (and who if anyone might have been influencing him), and when he finally made up his mind to do so.