The clamp eraser was not only a feature of many Eberhard Faber products, its design was extolled on some of their packaging too. As you push the end of this box, a cardboard insert shaped like the eraser extends outward from the top:
I was surprised (and interested) to discover that there is a separate patent just for this box. From the description:
“One object of the invention is to provide a box of the general character described having improved and novel means for illustrating the construction, operation, or characteristics of the articles packed in the box.”
Could this be the world’s first (and only) recursive pencil box?
It dates back to 1930, which is nine years after the eraser was patented. As of this writing I have only seen Van Dyke boxes with this design, but you’d think that there must have been an early Blackwing box like this too.
I have a few of these boxes myself and I too have only seen them under the Van Dyke name. I bring them up often as an example of beautiful package design. They really are nicely done, and to think that such an effort was put forth towards pencils! I think it really says something about, not only how the pencil was viewed at the time, but the design approach of a bygone era and how it has generally degraded up through the present (just my opinion).
I agree with you on all points, Patrick. I am also surprised each time by how old these designs are—in some ways they seem too modern to be that old.
Pingback: Package Deal | Contrapuntalism
Pingback: Of Pencils and Pencil Boxes | pencils and other things