“A.W. Faber’s New Drawing Pencil”


What does the beginning of a legacy (or perhaps a dynasty) look like?

A.W. Faber Polygrade pencils were by all accounts of unprecedented quality and very popular. They eventually gave way to a new range though—the now-familiar “Castell” line of pencils—in 1905/6. It’s quite remarkable when you consider that the new proprietor of A.W. Faber at that time (Count Alexander of Castell-Rüdenhausen) had no experience in pencil-making, yet the line he helped to launch continues to be a best-seller more than 100 years on.

The following notices all come from the same 1907 issue of The American Stationer, announcing the new “Castell” pencils. First is a description of the new pencils, including the switch from sourcing Siberian and English mines to availing themselves of chemistry for the purpose of purifying clay and graphite:


The advertisements were placed by the American branch of the company, who were likely responsible for this ‘poem’:


Then a glance at the first version of the Castell pencil:


Last was this repetition of the ad copy:


To a contemporary reader these advertisements may have gotten no more notice than did those for Hardtmuth’s Koh-I-Noor, Staedtler’s Lumograph, Tombow’s MONO, or Eberhard Faber’s Mongol, etc. So it’s interesting to look backward and to consider what it was about these or any other of the “legacy” pencils that set them apart from countless—and now forgotten—others.


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