War and Peace

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There have been several previous posts (including this one, War Between the Fabers) about the lawsuit A.W. Faber filed against the Eberhard Faber Company at the turn of the 20th century. The main issue at hand was whether the labeling of pencils with “E. Faber” caused brand confusion with “A.W. Faber.”

The result was that Eberhard Faber was required to stop labeling pencils with only an initial or initials followed by “Faber.” There are additional subtleties to the suit and its resolution but the document pictured above and below is a witness to that time: it’s one of the original letters sent out by the company in 1903 notifying business partners of the change.

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Since I’ve been posting about this pencil lengthener recently, here are some scans of the very first Graf von Faber-Castell catalog and their bleistiftverlängerer:


(I’m not sure if refills for the lobster were available. Perhaps a special edition?)


Pencils from the initial Graf von Faber-Castell line (1993):


Close-up of the lengthener I had previously owned. The cap used to have an eraser and the pencils had silver-plated tips:

Later versions (I’m not sure when the switch was made) would do away with the eraser under the cap and move it to the end of the pencil. First there was a brass-threaded end, then a switch to what is the current design:


The lead in those earlier pencils, especially the ones with the silver caps, was softer than what is available now. For me at least, they were perfect—I wish I knew what grade that was and if it was a unique formula. It wasn’t very waxy at all, rather more like powder, but very smooth and dark.

I don’t usually post about new or even current products, but given the topic it’s worth mentioning that refills now include these grey pencils with the guilloche pattern featured on their desk pencils. Not available in the U.S. just yet, but with a trip to Germany coming up in October I will try to remedy that:


This pencil lengthener was my “gateway drug” to the Graf von Faber-Castell line. It was my first “high end” pencil-related item, and at less than half the cost of the Perfect Pencil, it didn’t feel like I was jumping into the deep end all at once. But it also set me in a pattern that would last for years: Discovering products just as they were discontinued, and having to go to the ends of the earth online to try and find them.

I don’t know what it is about this bleistiftverlängerer, but the design, shape, feel, and function of it are just perfect in my opinion. Since it pre-dates the first Perfect Pencil I wonder if this was a stepping stone to the PP’s design or whether the lengthener was always meant to be a separate product. In other words when it was first designed and produced, did someone think: “You know, I bet I could fit a sharpener in there…”

The Perfect Pencil eventually eclipsed this lengthener but I don’t know if the PP was meant to obsolete it, or if the lengthener just didn’t sell well. Like I mentioned before though I still think this would be a popular item, even if there was just a plastic edition.

Thanks to Faber-Castell for the copy of the Graf von Faber-Castell catalog.

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Leather v. Silver (2)

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All better. It took a bit of effort and a dash of Tarn-x, but things seem to be back to normal.

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So the lesson here is obvious:

You shouldn’t leave this pencil in the leather case for 10 days. So…just 9 days I guess.

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Leather v. Silver


I don’t usually carry a pencil in my Graf von Faber-Castell leather writing case—a ballpoint or a fountain pen normally sits there. But I recently placed my GvF-C pencil and extender in the pen loop. The extender is silver-plated, and I polish it frequently. But ten days later, I took out the pencil and discovered this:


You can see the squared texture of the leather on the extender, from what I’m guessing was some sort of chemical reaction.


Though it may appear in the photographs that the metal surface is flaking off that’s not the case. A polishing cloth didn’t help much so it may require more aggressive treatment; I need to do some research first.

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“We ought to make a display for our products…”

I am trying to imagine how this conversation might have started.

Baron Lothar: “Wir sollten eine Anzeige für unsere Produkte zu machen.”
Mitarbeiter: “Oh? So… ein Schrank?”
Baron Lothar: “Nein! Viele, viele Schränke! Viele große Schränke…”

(Who knows…maybe it was Count Alexander.)

My guess is that this monumental display was likely used for any number of International Expositions, then perhaps ended up at the Faberhaus in Berlin (which was destroyed during the Second World War), or maybe at their Paris showroom. It would surprise me if it was housed in Stein, but it’s certainly a possibility. The photograph is from a 1911 issue of Deutsche Industrie—Deutsche Kultur.

I wonder what became of it.

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A.W. Faber-Castell: Neuer Export in Alter Qualität

Stills from another newsreel, this one from 1948:

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A.W. Faber-Castell: Jeden Tag 150.000 Bleistifte

These stills are from a 1946 newsreel of the A.W. Faber-Castell factory in Stein, Germany. Current factory managers might smile at the title — Every Day 150,000 Pencils — but in 1946 simply having a working factory might have been miracle enough. It would take some years before businesses in the American Zone of occupation would be permitted to resume production, and for some, even longer before they were permitted to export their goods outside of Germany.

Click on the stills to see the gallery:

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Across the Rednitz, Now and Then

While looking at this 1911 photo—A.W. Faber workers’ housing across the Rednitz river—I noticed how remarkably similar it is to a photograph I took when I visited there a few years ago:


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Storerooms in Stein

Images from 1911 of the storerooms and packaging area at A.W. Faber-Castell. I wonder if the same areas can be found today, or if they have been remodeled for other uses. The long hallway makes me think the storerooms are part of the main factory building:

Faber Packaging Room Faber Store Room 1911 A Faber Store Room 1911 B

Update 8/11: Faber-Castell in Germany kindly informed me that “The building, where the storing place and shipping department was situated around 1911, was demolished and replaced with a large modern building in 1975. Nowadays the press offices are located there.”

Thanks to Faber-Castell for the explanation!

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Art of Pencils: The 1923 Eberhard Faber Catalog

Some examples of color artwork from the 1923 Eberhard Faber Co. catalog:

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