The Motorist’s Memory


Before there was in-car navigation, there was The Motorist’s Memory by Faber-Castell: a small notepad tucked into a vinyl holder which had a strip of adhesive tape on the back. It’s equal parts high-tech and dowdy.



It also comes with a pocket pencil, a Castell 9000, but with the marking “M”. I have yet to see a Castell lead pencil with this marking outside of its use here (see update at the end). I’d say it has a lead near to a 3B (these would be fantastic with the green plastic Perfect Pencil):


I’m not sure of the date for this item; I’m guessing somewhere between 1950 and the 1960s.


I wonder if, in some forgotten corner of a warehouse, there are boxes and boxes of replacement pencils and spare refill pads.

NB: I should note that I apply this “forgotten-box-in-the-corner-of-a-warehouse” fantasy to every single discontinued Faber-made item that I like.

Update: Thanks to Lexikaliker, you can read about “grade M” pencils here.

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10 Responses to The Motorist’s Memory

  1. Gunther says:

    What a gem! I especially like the rounded corners and the somewhat odd radii of the product. The navigational instructions are great and well protected from a power failure 😉 – Re “M”: In their 1957 catalogue Faber-Castell have called it “Schreibhärte M”, and Johann Faber has also offered M pencils in the 1920s (see here).


    • Sean says:

      Thanks, Gunther. I was aware of copying pencils having those kinds of letter designations (W, H, M), but not the regular lead pencils. This also helps to date this product, too.

      Now I really want to know more about Schreibhärte M.

      Bring back Letter M! 🙂


  2. Sean says:

    Yes! In less than one hour, the number of “Bring Back Letter M” supporters has doubled. 🙂 If that’s not proof of overwhelming support, I don’t know what is…


    • Gunther says:

      Statistics never lie 😉


      • Sean says:

        There’s only one thing better than doubling your support base in less than an hour. It’s doubling your support base in less than an hour, and Lexikaliker making the perfect logo for your cause:

        Now all we need to do is get the signs and t-shirts made, then plan for the parade—right down the middle of Nürnberger Strasse in Stein.

        It might look a little silly though, you know, with just the two of us… 🙂


  3. Gunther says:

    I still have a few days’ holiday left this year – count me in! 😉 By the way, it’s funny to see how the M matches “Motorist’s Memory”. Ardent alliterators assemble! 🙂


  4. Matthias says:

    Does writing with the M feel any different to writing with an HB?


  5. I like the M too. (Peter Lorre could have led this cause.) But no texting while driving.

    Thanks for the dowdy link, Sean. Since late 2010, I’ve been tagging posts with Pinboard, a (not-free) service I recommend highly. If you want dowdy, the dowdyworld tag there has many items.


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