Eberhard Faber went to great lengths to improve the quality of their pencils. Two advancements in particular come to mind: the “complastic lead” used in the Mongol series, and the “microtomic graphite” used in the Van Dyke series.

When the microtomic process was introduced, it was indicated on the Van Dyke pencil and packaging. By the mid- to late-1950s and early 1960s, the name “Van Dyke” disappeared, giving way to the Microtomic pencil, including leadholders.

The “-tomic” ending is in line with the science and culture of the 1950s. Though there was a sense of dread and foreboding once the world entered the atomic age, it was coupled with championing the advancements and benefits that atomic science could bring to everyday living, which carried with it acute levels of accuracy as a subtext.

“…freedom from smudge.”

Eberhard Faber made many different kinds of pencils, and one wonders if they all received the benefits of the “microtomic process”, including the Blackwing. I’m especially curious since the Blackwing (#602) is nestled between the Van Dyke (#601) and the Microtomic (#603). Outside of the Van Dyke and the Microtomic itself, I’ve never seen the “microtomic process” mentioned for any other pencil.

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