This article from 1903 is one of several period-pieces I have come across that describe the pencil-making process from start to finish. It begins like most, telling of the large graphite discovery in Borrowdale in the 16th century:
But there is also an excellent series of photographs, taken at the Eberhard Faber Co. factory in New York:
There is an interesting comment about the machinery at the factory, and the motivation for designing it:
Notice, too, that the majority of the workers you see are women. While visiting the Faber-Castell factory in Stein I was told several times that to this day, when it comes to quality control, women typically outperform their male co-workers:
I wonder what labor skills they might have looked for in potential workers. Carpentry? Woodworking? Would pencil-making be a lateral career move for a cooper? Since many of the tasks seem specific to making pencils, I have to imagine that they were willing to train potential employees (unless there was just a lot of moonlighting in bleistiftery back in those days).
Wanted: Experienced bleistiftician and bleistifticator for new pencil factory opening in New York. Apply within. (Bleistiftophiles and Irish need not apply.)
Reblogged this on Steven Rosenberg.
These are really excellent photos! Thanks for showing us.
Thank you for this historical snippet. Employing women (at least in those days) was a way of cutting costs. Women workers cost much cheaper than men and were typically employed to perform tasks that were seen as requiring lower skill.
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Hi these pictures are amazing! Can I ask for their source? Thanks!
It’s from the trade magazine “Walden’s Stationer and Printer.”
Hey Sean, Thanks for getting back to me! I am looking through a ton of online issues of “Walden’s” and it’s taking longer than expected. Do you by chance remember which issue you got them from? Thanks so much.