Eberhard Faber Potent Copying 745

The use of the word “potent” here reminds me of something you might see from the 19th century, e.g. “Doc McClure’s Potent Heart Tonic.” Maybe it’s the predecessor of today’s “extra strength”, but more likely it’s just a qualifying term associated with the science and industry of dyes (note the addition of “very” on the side of the box).

Like many brands of old copying pencils these come with point protectors, which must have saved countless shirts and pants from being ruined. The 745 is a blue pencil, but also came in red, purple, and green. The packaging indicates that they are suitable for hectograph work—a type of copying that was being done up to the 1960s. And hectographic pencils were said to contain a greater proportion of dye in their leads.

As late as 1990, Faber-Castell had two copying pencils in its catalog, the Noblot and the Blu-Blak, but I’m unaware of their differences. From what I’ve read it’s mainly artists and restorers anymore who look for indelible pencils, including tattoo artists who use hectographic pencils to transfer sketch designs on to the skin.

Here is an excellent article about the history of copying pencils.

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5 Responses to Eberhard Faber Potent Copying 745

  1. Beautiful typography on the box. “FOR ALL…” and “VERY POTENT…” and the color names look like ITC Kabel or Geometric 231. Would these pencils be from the ’30s?

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    • Sean says:

      I’m not sure about the date, but my guess is something closer to the mid-1940s or ’50s. Also, it looks like the typeface used for “POTENT COPYING” on the pencil is the same one used for the Van Dyke logo, which I previously thought might have been a logotype.

      Nice, too, how the end caps have the same black band motif as the extended ferrules.

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  2. Kevin says:

    Nice looking pencils, there seems to be a strong collecting community for copying pencils – judging by Ebay auctions. And slightly off topic, apologies :-
    (This post reminds me of my pet irritation – pencil makers not providing point protectors, and accidental point breakage is a maddening, frequent experience for me, when “out on the road”. I realise point protectors are, to a great degree, diameter specific, with some margin built in, with the small, tensioned slits – on the few I have anyway, metal or plastic. As an alternative I use 8mm diameter PVC clear tubing (next size down is 6mm which is too narrow), but this also is an imperfect solution, because some pencils are simply too slim to fit and others are too fat. Also it is near impossible to straighten out the curved tube (sold on a 5 metre roll) and hence the pencil point sits close to one side of the tube, thus “blunting” it’s protective value (and it just looks inelegant). I don’t consider Faber Castell Perfect pencils a reasonable solution either, because they are too fat and cumbersome. Love to hear some home-made solutions other than PVC tube that can be adapted to a variety of pencil diameters).

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    • Sean says:

      I like the look of them, too. I wonder how people from the ’40s or ’50s saw them. By that I mean, the quality of the product and the packaging is something we marvel at today, and we tend to see it as part of times gone by. But was that quality just an expectation and taken for granted, or did people back then have a similar reaction to it that we have today? Did they hold onto the point protectors after the pencils were used up?

      Re: point protectors — I know what you mean. There are a few being made out there but nothing like there used to be. I think in a way it expresses the decline of pencils: Why protect the points if we don’t care about the pencils? Or at least, it’s easy enough just to pick up another pencil.

      I think that in this case, the protectors were a solution for a different problem—the dye inadvertently getting on things. But, very similar caps came with steno pencils too.

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  3. Monali Mehta says:

    I am looking for copying pencils. I really need them, but don’t know where can i get them. I will really be thankful if anyone can help me with the same.

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