Not only is it time, I’d say it’s long overdue. Based on everything that the U.S. Postal Service asks of a stamp proposal, I put together a prospectus and created the samples pictured here. Should the proposal progress, I have someone in mind to help design the actual stamp; these are more proof-of-concept than final product.
So many proposals are submitted each year that the approval process can take up to three years. But even if it’s selected you might not be notified as to when the stamp will appear.
Still worth a try, I think.
If you like the idea, maybe put a +1 or something in the comments section and pass along a link or two; perhaps a showing of support would help influence the committee.
The title of, and idea for, this post were
inspired by stolen from some of my favorite posts at Gunther’s blog; a series called Basteln mit dem Lexikaliker.
The nickel plating on the clamp erasers matches the hardware so well, it’s a wonder they’re not a stock option:
The Eberhard Faber Mongol is an iconic pencil, whose origins date back at least to the turn of the twentieth century. Its most distinguishing feature is the black-and-gold ferrule — a design that the Eberhard Faber Company would eventually refer to it as “the characteristic Mongol band.” But it wasn’t always so.
The following passage, taken from the minutes of the February, 1904 meeting of the board of directors (L.W. Faber, E. Faber, and E.E. Huber), states that all #482 pencils should receive a new metal tip:
It’s interesting to note that nowhere in any of the minutes (from 1898 to 1911) does the word “ferrule” appear. Instead, “caps” and “tips” are the most frequently used terms. This means that the word “ferrule” would become part of the terminology at a later time (NB: a ferrule is defined as something that either caps or joins).
Following the suggestion at the close of the minutes a trademark was filed for in June, then granted in August, some six months from the time of the board meeting:
The characteristic Mongol band would eventually be found on a dizzying number of products, and would undergo a multitude of design changes over some 80+ years:
This was originally going to be a “this date in pencil history” kind of post, but I would have had to wait until October.
The letter above was written by George Smith, who in 1920 was the president of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Company. The letter is addressed to Emil Berolzheimer of Eagle Pencil Co., L. J. Reckford of the American Lead Pencil Co., and E. E. Huber of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. Together, they were referred to as the “Big 4” of the pencil industry.
The letter addresses an expressed interest in listing all of the pencil manufacturers in the world at that time:
What followed was about eight typewritten pages of companies and their addresses, from North America, Europe, to Japan. There were no less than 15 pencil makers listed in England, and some 17 in Japan.
Smith closes the letter with a suggestion that the list be distributed amongst the members of the PMA:
It is an interesting example of cooperation between competitors.
There’s nothing quite like genuine parts when you’re doing a little refurbishing. These 1282 replacement erasers for the clamp, originally made from the Red Ruby formula, are still surprisingly pliant.
They were used for the earlier Blackwing and Van Dyke pencils.
Eventually the Blackwing shared the same eraser as the Microtomic (which was once the Van Dyke), and were similar to the Pink Pearl.
These remain remarkably soft as well:
Though to be honest neither were very good at erasing, even during their heyday.
If the pencil had a softer lead, and if you were writing on smooth paper, the eraser tended to distribute the graphite more than erase it.
Still, it’s better to have a fresh replacement than a hardened and shriveled eraser—something you often find on vintage Blackwing 602 and Van Dyke 601 pencils.
If a family tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see or hear it, did all this work actually happen?
The tree in the photo represents only 20% so far, give or take a Lothar.
I’ve written before about the Diamond Star logo of the Eberhard Faber Pencil Co., and have tried to ascertain its origins. A star is a very common symbol, though there are a variety of types (mainly having to do with the number of points). With regard to heraldry, a star can be a sign of providence from above, represent an achievement or important event, and just about everything else in between.
The name Faber is an occupational name (in Latin it means “smith”, and whose stem can be found in words such as fabric and fabricator etc.), so it’s wholly appropriate that the original logo of the Eberhard Faber Co. had two six-pointed stars above a worker with a hammer:
The design is an extract from the larger Faber family crest in Germany, imbuing the logo with a metaphorical quality: the breaking-off of a small portion of the Faber family, who departed Germany to represent the family concern in the New World. But by the end of the 19th century, the American Fabers would find themselves embroiled in years-long legal difficulties with their German relatives (see: War Between the Fabers).
The early part of the twentieth century saw the conclusion of the lawsuits, which went all the way to the Bavarian courts, but it was the Eberhard Faber Co. who was required to make some changes—such as the stamping of their products with “Eberhard Faber” instead of “E. Faber”. But rather than taking the legal decision as a setback, Lothar Washington Faber and Eberhard Faber II (both sons of the first Eberhard Faber) saw it as an opportunity: to forge ahead with a comprehensive change in the company’s identity as an independent and innovative pencil manufacturer in the United States. Part of that change in identity required a new company logo, which is where the Diamond Star enters the story.
What inspired the design? I haven’t found any original notes or sketches yet that answer the question. But during a recent visit to the home of Eberhard Faber IV, I came across a handwritten entry in the company minutes from November 15, 1905, indicating the very day the Diamond Star was born:
Back from another visit to Wilkes-Barre. There’s a lot of reading to do, but soon I hope to be sharing selections from some rather unique documents.
I never thought a handheld sharpener would be able to create a point similar to those made by Carl crank-sharpeners. While current two-stage handheld sharpeners have a certain appeal, the points are usually so sharp that you can expect there to be a little breakage on first contact. None of this is the case with the M+R Pollux.
The cones are slightly concave, which adds to their strength. Worth noting are the incredibly tight tolerances too: a “standard” hex or round barrel fits snugly into the aperture, preventing any yaw from occurring (something that can lead to broken leads). And everything meets at the tip of the graphite perfectly—in other words, blades that are less accurately designed and fitted often leave odd bits at the end which need to be removed before you start writing.
It’s made of brass so it has a nice weight to it, but I hope to find a suitable case or pouch to keep it in—small items of this high quality tend to grow legs very quickly and disappear.
Thanks to Gunther at Lexikaliker for the Pollux!
For more about the Pollux, See Matthias’s post at Bleistift, and Gunther’s original post at Lexikaliker.
Click for the story at Lexikaliker.