Sets and Sensibility

ca. 1912

ca. 1911

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This entry was posted in Ephemera, Pencils and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Sets and Sensibility

  1. Adair says:

    Oh my gosh…I’m hyperventilating…These sets are so beautiful.
    I continue to be amazed by the variety of products that EF sold. Strange that I have never, ever found any of these display holders (except for the more common wooden one), nor the stationery sets, in my many years of hunting. I wonder if they were made of less than sturdy materials and just didn’t survive. Has anyone alive ever actually seen one of these products?

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    • Sean says:

      Every once in a while I’ve seen a badly damaged case, but that’s it.

      I have a feeling, though I can’t prove it, that whoever the major collectors are they for the most part are not online. I bet there are some large collections out there, but they are only known to other serious collectors.

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  2. Adair says:

    I can’t quite tell what it is, but the eraser—if it is an eraser—in the “Panel Assortment” seems to anticipate the Graf von F-C round erasers.
    A pity that none of the existing pencil companies think of making handy sets like these. They’d be perfect for students and writers alike, and they do not seem complicated or expensive to produce.

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  3. A Reader from Paris says:

    The Invisible Brotherhood of SERIOUS Pencil Collectors… In order to enter the Society, you have to make a pledge to write in pencil only, and therefore never to use a computer anymore…

    OMG, I wish there was a novel about these people.

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    • Sean says:

      A novel? Sure. We could follow the trend set by The Da Vinci Code, where so many books had the word “Code” in the title: The Pencil Code.

      [With apologies to devout, or even somewhat devout, Christians everywhere…]

      It’s a thriller that suggests Jesus was not a carpenter, but rather a pencil maker—in fact he was the one who invented the “carpenter’s pencil.” And just as it was suggested that the Holy Grail was not a drinking vessel, we discover that the “Carpenter’s Pencil” was not a pencil at all, instead it was a secret so powerful that it could destroy the world of pens. So a secret society of quill-writers, the plumenati, are bent on revealing this knowledge to the world. They are opposed by a powerful cabal of fountain-pen users led by a plutocrat called Tom C. Blann (an anagram of “Mont Blanc”).

      If all this is true—where “Jesus” is just code for “pencil”, and with pen makers suppressing pencils for centuries—we begin to understand that the expression “Jesus died on the Cross” is actually a metaphor: a clear reference to Cross pens, and their secret campaign to eliminate the wood-cased pencil.

      It all begins when the heroine, Debra Fare-Herb, comes across a cryptic message written on a vintage Van Dyke pencil box: “Drab reefer? Bah!” (The name and the message are anagrams of…?) 🙂

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        That’s more or less what I had in mind; I haven’t read The Da Vinci Code actually, but I’ve read (twice) Umberto Eco’s novel Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) — an interesting instance of “plagiarism by anticipation”, since it could be read as a subtle parody of the whole “esoteric thriller” genre written 15 years before Dan Brown’s book.

        Do you think the members of the Society use as a sign of recognition the latine motto stilus calamo fortior, “the pencil is mightier than the pen”?…

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        (I wrote “that’s more or less what I had in mind” before you considerably developed your plot — so that’s much more than what I had in mind, actually. The heroine will discover a few chapters before the end that she’s the grand-grand-grand-daughter of Eberhard?!)

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        And all these esoteric symbols on pencils! Faber’s Scales (an obvious masonic emblem), Staedtler’s Moon, and Stabilo’s Swan (the Swan use to be a minor emblem of Christ)… They all disappeared, replaced by barcodes, “when man forever traded away wonder for reason” (to quote the opening of the esoteric TV series Carnivàle).

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      • Sean says:

        You see, this conspiracy goes far deeper than we can possibly imagine. 🙂

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        And the lead, of course, points towards alchemy… Your silver plated “Royal Pencil” is obviously an imperfect essay of the magnum opus — the making of a golden pencil.

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        (Read “attempt” instead of “essay” in the last comment — gallicism, sorry.)

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      • A Reader from Paris says:

        Oh, I just forgot to tell you — since the other day, and with the occult assistance of the plumenati, I succeeded in the magnum opus, i.e. the transmutation of a lead pencil into a golden pencil. The proof here (no fake picture, I swear):
        http://www.divshare.com/download/21390296-8c4
        http://www.divshare.com/download/21390299-044

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      • Sean says:

        Congrats on your find — that’s excellent; I wonder how many of these were made.

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  4. Adair says:

    No, you just have to have a lot of cash. I think that by serious Sean meant people who can and are willing to spend large amounts of money on rare items and amass historically complete collections. Most of us pencil fans are probably not in that league and depend on the chance bargain.

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  5. A Reader from Paris says:

    Of course! I was joking — French people are so unserious, you know. I couldn’t help fancying secret meetings of the Order, in hidden places where all these sets and displays (in mint state of course) are stored, and so on.
    Seriously speaking now, such private pencil museums do probably exist; and I can easily imagine these wealthy collectors. A few years ago, an antique book dealer in Paris told me that one of his clients owned TWO copies of the Gutenberg Bible. He also mentioned very private meetings of collectors owning such stuff — the Gutenberg Bible, the Shakespeare First Folio…

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