Eberhard Faber Tee-Vee Pencil

These Eberhard Faber Tee-Vee 1142 pencils remind me that there must have been thousands upon thousands of pencil brands in their company catalog. Over the course of 138 years, how many different brands of wood-cased lead pencils could there have been? Even with all the information I’ve gathered over the years, creating a comprehensive list seems like an endless endeavor (but one I consider pursuing from time to time).

I’m assuming the Tee-Vee pencil dates back to the 1950s or 1960s, but even so, how long could they have lasted in the catalog? A decade? One year? As No. 2 pencils go they don’t seem to offer anything notable in terms of performance. Instead they seem more like a novelty pencil: The name Tee-Vee is flanked on both sides with what appear to be cathode-ray tubes shining their light. (This reminds me of the Icelandic word for television, Sjónvarp, which I’ve read can loosely be translated as “picture-thrower” [from James Essinger’s Spellbound, 2006.])

I’m sure some brand names were more ephemeral than others, especially those commemorating a particular event or anniversary. But when Mr. So-and-so at the Eberhard Faber Company conceived of the Tee-Vee pencil, was it with the hope that it would remain in the catalog for more than one year? Was it more Darwinian, i.e. survival of the who-sold-mostest?

Left wanting for answers, we can at least enjoy the creative legacy of Mr. So-and-so.

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5 Responses to Eberhard Faber Tee-Vee Pencil

  1. Jesse says:

    This might be far-fetched, but I wonder if the “tee vee” pencils were meant to be used on-set when television shows were filmed. When TV was monochrome-only, they often used different colors when filming because they didn’t show up in B&W the way we would expect them to. One example is Gibson guitars with TV Yellow lacquer — a shade that looks an awful lot like the muted yellow of the TEE VEE pencil above (a brighter yellow might have appeared overexposed on early analogue film cameras). Or, actresses wearing green lipstick (like the green pencil above). Anyway, just a wild guess!


    • Sean says:

      I like the idea – especially since Eberhard Faber (and just about everyone else) offered so many special-use pencils at one point or another. I suspect though that there are likely a few more colors for that range, such as blue and purple or perhaps pink.

      But speaking of garish paint jobs on beautiful instruments, the yellow and green bring to mind these Kubicki ExFactor basses:


  2. Cheerful colors! I’d guess that these were aimed at the schoolroom set.


  3. Reminds me of their Tinsel-Tint pencils.


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