I can’t say with any certainty that this is the first mention of the Castell 9000 in North America, but the way this article from 1908 reads, it’s easy to think so. The only strange thing is that the Castell 9000 was introduced in 1905—but that was in Germany; I’m not sure how soon they were made available in America, or perhaps how soon the company might have advertised the pencils. Maybe it was something closer to what we call a “soft opening” nowadays: Quietly selling the product and getting it into the hands of influential consumers before it’s officially announced and advertised.
(Updated: the ad is talking about the Castell copying pencil rather than the 9000):
The factory in Stein was coordinating with the their recently opened factory in Newark, New Jersey. In fact some of the company’s wood supplies coming from the U.S., and the bulk of their rubber-based material were coming from The Garden State, but the whole operation ran like Tinker to Evers to Chance.
What I enjoy about finding early documents like this is that there was a time when everything—especially an item we’ve known for our entire lives—was once new. It’s hard to imagine a world without Campbell’s Soup, Coca-Cola, or Goodyear Tires, etc. And reading about the Castell 9000 like no one’s heard of it before indeed feels like time-travel.
There are a few brief histories and historical photographs available of the Castell 9000, but as far as I know there isn’t a definitive “biography” of this pencil yet. For now, I’ll just add that to my ‘books-I-wish-I-could-read’ list.