This all started with a post about what I considered to be the first Blackwing 602. My contention was supported by the rarity of the pencil, as well as other plausible conclusions as they applied to its design. But I soon began to doubt.

The second post in this series focused on the origins of the Van Dyke ferrule, including the text and arrow stamped into the metal, which preceded—and were never present on—the Blackwing. My thinking was, if I could find contemporaneous versions of the Van Dyke—a pencil that was advertised far more than the Blackwing—then I could draw inferences about the chronology of the Blackwing by pairing the ferrules. The key, then, would be to date this early Van Dyke ferrule, which would anchor its relationship to the Blackwing in a timeline.

This information has now been uncovered, and can be verified with a Van Dyke I own from that period. The following is from a 1927 Eberhard Faber catalog:

(Note that the copy mentions a “gold band”.) You can clearly see that the ferrule is the same kind as the one pictured below, gold band and all:

The undercoat-banded ferrule, then, was in use for a minimum of 6 years before the Blackwing 602 was even invented (1933). That means this ferrule was first, not the one with the yellow-painted band. Knowing that the gold ferrule with the black band was in use from at least 1949-onward (see previous post), then the order of the first three Blackwings must be as follows:

The only thing that would disturb this conclusion is if the Van Dykes and Blackwings did not share the same ferrule type at the same time. And wouldn’t you know it, the catalog page in the previous post shows a Van Dyke and Blackwing side-by-side, with different ferrules! Just when you think you have things nailed-down…

For now, I’m just going to remain satisfied with this detective work, turn a blind eye, and hope that there is some other explanation for the discrepancy (such as the re-using of older camera-ready artwork rather than commissioning entirely new illustrations because of the stripe on a ferrule).

My speculation regarding the introduction of the yellow-painted band centers on the Van Dyke. The paint on the band is identical to the paint on the barrel. When the Van Dyke’s design was updated (see pic below) including the ferrule, I think the Blackwing was fitted in a “me-too” fashion with this ferrule for a short time as well:

Despite how sharp the ferrule looks on this pencil, it just didn’t work as well on the Blackwing. Perhaps, then, the folks at Eberhard Faber decided on a design (black band on a gold ferrule) that suited the Van Dyke, the Blackwing, and the Microtomic.

Last but not least, Gunther at Lexikaliker has come up with a very plausible explanation regarding the use of gold coloring on the ferrule. As the picture in his post indicates, Eberhard Faber was founded the same year as the gold rush (1849), and the original gold stripe in the ferrule represented gold, which by extension represented quality.

Taking this a step further—by changing to a painted yellow band on the ferrule, the visceral allusion to the luster of gold was lost. But instead of just switching back, why not just make the entire ferrule gold then, capping all of their large-ferrule pencils with this sign of quality? Added to that is the simplification of the process—the ferrules would no longer need to be painted black, saving both time and money.

Many thanks to Lexikaliker and Herbert R. for their generosity in facilitating these scans.