July 5, 2015 6 Comments
Of all the people associated with the genuine Blackwing 602, one name rises to the top of the list: Eberhard Faber. I recently had the privilege of paying Mr. Faber a visit at his home in Pennsylvania, and while there were very few pencils on the shelves, there were three 1/2 gross boxes of Blackwings.
We spoke a great deal on the phone and in person about the origin of this pencil, and to what degree it was directly advertised by the company:
“The original Blackwing was introduced in 1934. The lead was a formula that my father developed [Eberhard L. Faber, 1893-1945]. He was a chemist, and in fact he developed most of our lead formulations at the time. The Blackwing, I think, was the first wax-impregnated lead, which is one of the things that gave it its smoothness. It was popular among people who did crossword puzzles because it wrote well on newsprint.”
I was curious to learn how the company viewed this pencil, because compared with the campaigns for the Mongol, Van Dyke, and the Microtomic I have come across comparatively little in terms of advertising:
“There was an advertising campaign in the New Yorker Magazine , and my mother was responsible for that—she was at that time in charge of public relations. That [ad] reawakened a certain amount of interest in the Blackwing, but it always had its fans, who would not use anything else.”
I learned more in an afternoon than the past several years of research. Now, the work begins to write it all down and fill-in the rest of the story.
Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Faber for their hospitality and generosity.