Just When Was The Mongol Introduced?


  • The book I Heart Design says it was in the mid-nineteenth century.
  • In Stamps of the Philippines, Lisa Mapua says 1999 was the Mongol’s 150th anniversary (i.e. 1849).
  • William Ecenbarger, in his 1986 article “The Write Stuff”, says it was around 1893. So does Raymond Coffee in his 1985 Chicago Tribune article “The Pencil: ‘Hueing’ To Tradition.”
  • Jeffrey Kroessler says it was 1894 in his book New York Year By Year.
  • Bob Dvorchak’s 1984 interview with Eberhard Faber IV says 1900; so does Joe Nickell in Pen, Ink & Evidence (2000).

Whether it was before or after 1900 the Mongol started off with a slightly different design, which continued at least through 1901 (the date of this advertisement):

The trademark “Mongol” wasn’t registered until 1905, but registration dates don’t necessarily have to coincide with the year a pencil is introduced:


However, the registration application (1905) states that the company had been using the word “Mongol” for one of their pencils in good faith since about 1900. Sometime between 1900 and approximately 1905 the iconic Mongol ferrule was designed and the logo on the barrel was changed to the more familiar block-letter version.

This advertisement from 1909 looked promising, but instead of providing a specific date it only vaguely mentions “past” and “present” versions of their lead pencils:

Old Newspapers

It’s probably true that there was some version of a pencil called “Mongol” prior to 1900. Although it wasn’t in direct competition with A.W. Faber’s Polygrades (which were made with Siberian graphite), the Mongol nonetheless evoked the Orient by way of its name and its yellow color, as did the popular Koh-I-Noor pencils made by Hardmuth.

The explanation might be similar to that of the Van Dyke line, which existed in some form from 1895 but was relaunched in 1914.


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4 Responses to Just When Was The Mongol Introduced?

  1. Sola says:

    “Mid-nineteenth century” is so wonderfully vague 🙂 And it’s amazing that Eberhard Faber had an agent in Yokohama as early as 1909!


  2. For such a great pencil, there’s only one possible date: July 4, 1900, shared, as a mythic origin, with another great American (Louis Armstrong).


    • Sean says:

      The only other explanation of its origin would have to be its emergence from The Void; that It always has been, and will always Be. 🙂

      If that much is true then there’s a chance it may have been Gilgamesh’s favorite pencil.


  3. memm says:

    The older Mongol logo is quite nice, too! A few weeks ago I listened to a programme on BBC Radio 4 called “The meaning of Mongol” – no mention of the pencil, though.


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