Package Deal

There is something rotten in Denmark Newark.

awcolPhoto: eBay

Well, perhaps not rotten, but curious at the very least. The box for these A.W. Faber-Castell U.S.A. Columbus pencils has a two-part design, where pushing one end reveals the pencils at the other. It even says to “push this end” on the box. But this is a design that I associate with Eberhard Faber:



Several Eberhard Faber products had this type of packaging including the Mongol and Van Dyke, dating back to the 1920s. The patent was filed in 1923 by Carl H. Kappes and assigned to the Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. by 1927:


The style of the packaging would evolve over the years but the basic design stayed the same (there is an additional patent for the Van Dyke box).


It’s easy to find instances of pencil manufacturers “borrowing” from one another, going back to some of the earliest commercial products. In fact it was the cheap lookalikes of his pencils that prompted Lothar Faber in 1875 to petition for a law that would protect his proprietary rights (though I’m uncertain as to how they were enforced). But I was surprised to see that A.W. Faber-Castell U.S.A. adopted this box design (during what I’m guessing was the ’60s), knowing who it was originally associated with.

I don’t know if the patent or trademark in this case might have expired, or maybe even if there was some sort of arrangement between the two companies in America. But it’s an interesting overlap nonetheless.

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5 Responses to Package Deal

  1. Sapphire says:

    Not only pencil companies, in the UK cigarettes were packed in push through boxes very similar to this as were some kinds of chocolate, butterscotch and several other sweets (candies)


    • Sean says:

      Speaking of borrowed packaging, I think this might be my favorite:

      This Soviet Tu-144 reminds me of something…just can’t put my finger on it.


  2. Matthias says:

    With both companies having “Faber” in their name it’s even more in EF’s interest not to let AWF use the “push this end” design – I think this will confuse people and make them think the pencils are from the same company.


    • Sean says:

      I suppose a licensing deal would explain it, though someone would then need to explain to me why either would do that. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Of Pencils and Pencil Boxes | pencils and other things

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