These Eberhard Faber Mongols were made in 1944, near the height of U.S. production for the Second World War. Pencils from this time period are often found to have plastic or cardboard ferrules because the metals used in traditional ferrules were vital to the war effort, so they were rationed and prioritized:
Eberhard Faber preserved the black-with-yellow-stripe design but you can see how they’re not seated very well. Also, the erasers are prone to pop out and the ferrules themselves often have small cracks in them. I wonder if the machinery and process involved with mating the pencil to the ferrule weren’t quite refined enough yet with regard to the new plastic ferrules. In other words, the force used to attach metal ferrules was a little too much for the plastic ones.
Without knowing how long the war would continue, catalogs (such as the one below from 1944) were amended to showed those pencils that were being offered with new plastic ferrules:
A note at the top of the following page alerts the consumer about the use of different materials for the ferrules. Rather than boasting about ingenuity or at least mentioning patriotic duty though, it reads more like a disclaimer:
Coincidentally, I recently spotted some Mongol pencils in a 1943 U.S. Army Signal Corps film about how quartz crystals are prepared and manufactured for radio communications. Some had plastic ferrules, but others didn’t—such as the pencil in the second still:
As far as I can tell there were no plastic or cardboard replacements for the clamp eraser, which makes me wonder if either the company stocked up in advance of the coming shortage, or if Blackwing and Microtomic pencils weren’t manufactured during this time. If they were slower to sell in the first place perhaps there was enough back-stock to cover the war years, or is it possible the Blackwing was offered with a regular ferrule for a time?
With all the restrictions that were placed on materials, not to mention how consumer spending habits were greatly affected during the war, my guess is that whatever Blackwing stock remained was used up and if they ran out, it may have been dropped from their catalog for a time. Most U.S. pencil-makers offered fewer products during the war years: everything from ‘novelty’ pencils to high-end products were put on hold in an effort not only to comply with materials restrictions, but to also keep the Allies supplied with pencils—in particular, copying pencils.
Beautiful, even with plastic or cardboard ferrules. The box is great, too. Thanks for showing of these treasures.
It kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t try and continue with plastic in some way. Were they opposed to it on principle, or did they just not like the way it looked?
I have been reading your blog for some time, and you always have great photos of rare pencil along with well-researched information to boot! Thank you for sharing your photos and information. By chance, have you any information on the Mongol 482 with black metal ferrule with painted yellow striped? Perhaps, they may have been produced near the same time period.
If you look at the photo in the post titled “Bands of Brothers”, the pencil in the center is the one you mentioned. I agree that they might have been made around the same time — you can see where the band lines up exactly with the yellow band on the plastic ferrule. The same was done on Blackwing and Van Dyke ferrules, too.
“Eight times stronger than the average person needs.” This may become my new motto! Love the blog!
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