A Window On The Past (4)

display Geyer's Stationer

display3 Geyer's Stationer

c. 1908

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Eberhard Faber Mongol Refill Erasers

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The Eberhard Faber Co. often stated that their clamp eraser would “outlast the pencil”, but they still saw fit to provide replacement erasers. These small Mongol refill boxes contain three flat, red erasers and one metal clip:

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The question is whether these erasers were considered “Mongol” erasers (i.e. part of the Mongol line along with the Van Dyke, etc.), or were simply refills for Mongol pencils fitted with a clamp eraser. For example, there was the pocket Mongol pencil that came with a clamp extender:

Later on there would be mechanical Mongol pencils similar to these Permapoint pencils, which featured a clamp eraser:

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Previous boxes of clamp refills each had four erasers (instead of three) and a metal clip:

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Perhaps the four-pack had one refill too many. But by specializing the packaging (i.e. calling them “Mongol” refills) would consumers have known they were compatible with any of their clamp-related products? I suppose that the store display likely explained as much.

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Kim~Ber~Ly, A Drawing Pencil

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Johann Faber Pocket Pen/Pencil

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Each of the Faber houses distinguished their products in some way, and from what I’ve seen, the holders for Johann Faber’s waistcoat/pocket pencils were often ornamented with metal figures. In this case (or perhaps, on this case) it is the Eiffel Tower:

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There are two writing instruments inside: a pencil and a dip pen. But rather than being housed in the ends then flipped around and inserted into the holder to extend them, the two items are connected in the center; the cap then becomes the extender:

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I don’t know whether this item was made specifically for Johann Faber’s Paris store, or whether imagery of the Eiffel Tower was appealing to customers in general, or perhaps both.

The other end holds a flat cedar pencil—whose width and height are resistant to other manufacturers’ refills, even (or perhaps especially) if they were made by your brothers:

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Everything about this pen/pencil is very finely made, but trying to hold and write with it as a pen feels awkward. My fingers naturally want to grip the flat sides of the holder but due to the orientation of the nib, you have to hold it with the flat side facing upward — the nib can’t be rotated in the holder.

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Eberhard Faber Assortments

Eberhard Faber Van Dyke Set 19161916

The Graphic Arts and Crafts Year Book1907

Eberhard Faber Novelty Case for Children 19161916

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Glenn Gould, une vie à contretemps.

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Artist Sandrine Revel has published a new book: Glenn Gould, une vie à contretemps. 

It’s not enough to call it an illustrated biography of Gould; it’s also a performance in and of itself. It’s the evidence of an inward journey, a pursuit to capture and visually express an experience that is in one sense profoundly personal and singular, yet at the same time deeply-shared among Gould’s admirers; similar perhaps to the “ecstatic experience” he pursued his entire, albeit abbreviated, life.

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I’ve been reading and writing about Glenn Gould for most of my professional life, and I’m constantly amazed by the continued diversity and richness found in the multi-disciplinary presentations of his life and work. It’s difficult to think of many other musicians who have had their legacies and cultural impact so described in books of poetry, plays, sculptures, paintings, audio essays, films, and multimedia installations, etc. It’s almost if words aren’t the appropriate place to start.

While there are several excellent biographies written about Glenn Gould, perhaps the contrapuntal nature of his life and the intensity of his work require similar modes of expression in pursuit of their description—a contrapuntal answer to frame its subject, giving rise to episodes and counter-expositions.

Sandrine Revel’s website is here, and the publisher of the book can be found here.

N.B. I have only seen a preview of the book and am not affiliated with the author or the publisher.

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Eberhard Faber Empress 434

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601, 602, 603

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‘Winging It

Anyone who has searched eBay for vintage pencils knows how daunting it can sometimes be. You could spend a lifetime scrolling through page after page of “pencils” so you add qualifiers to your search, but your results only account for those who have spelled things correctly in the auction titles and descriptions. And searching by category only helps if the seller listed the items in sensible groups to begin with (e.g.  “collectibles” vs. “home and garden”).

“Junk drawer” auctions can be interesting, but they require even more vigilance when it comes to examining the (often) distant and/or blurry pictures that are provided. Still though, one such auction yielded a 19th-century A.W. Faber Artists’ Pencil leadholder (among other things) for a few dollars, so it can be worth the effort. But this recent find makes me wonder how much must get overlooked on a daily basis:

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As it was listed there wasn’t too much to get excited about: mainly colored pencils, but the box of Black Warriors might be nice (though they were grade 2.5). What grabbed my attention was the Eberhard Faber box in the background—it was the taller kind, the ones that were used for the Blackwing and Microtomic pencils to accommodate the clamp ferrules. But there was no mention of such in the description, and even more frustratingly there was no photo of the box flaps, which would have the brand name printed on it.

However, there was one photo of the Berol box where you could barely see the end of the Eberhard Faber box. The built-in magnification tool revealed the following:

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Blackwing 602. Still, there was no guarantee—for all I knew there were more Colorbrite pencils stuffed in there just to make use of the box. But I decided to wing it and kept my fingers crossed.

The items arrived yesterday, on National Pencil Day no less, and inside the box were 13 unsharpened genuine Blackwing pencils—not to mention the Black Warriors and a few dozen colored pencils from Eberhard Faber. I was the only bidder; the total was less than $20:

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Luck? Perhaps. Or maybe—just maybe—it’s the first documented National Pencil Day miracle.

(That, or I just spend too much time online looking for pencils and the law of large numbers finally kicked in.)

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National Pencil Day, 2015

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