One of the longest running and most famous pencils of all time is a cousin of the Blackwing 602: The Mongol. The pencil is most commonly seen as the Mongol 482, but other versions do exist.
The Mongol Pencil Basics
The Mongol is a yellow, hexagonal pencil with hard (120-degree) angle corners. It usually has a metal ferrule and a pink eraser, but not all models do.
The models in the family include:
- Mongol 484: School pencil
- Mongol 482: The standard Mongol pencil
- Mongol 481: The drawing version of the Mongol, with no ferrule or eraser
- Mongol 480: The round version
Most Mongols feature #2 lead, but they were sold in a variety. For example the Mongol 481, as a drawing pencil, was sold in harder (HHHHH for instance) and softer grades.
The “Mongol” Name
While “Mongol” most likely brings up thoughts of Genghis Khan and his vast and terrifying hordes, the name of this famous pencil is said to come from elsewhere.
Legend has it the pencil’s name was actually based on Mongole soup, (often known as puree mongole). This was relayed by Eberhard Faber IV, the CEO of the Eberhard Faber Company from 1973-1988, so it was a reliable source of information.
Over the years people have conjectured that the name due to the used of Siberian (close to Mongolia?) graphite, but the soup, which can have yellow-ish tones, is a much more amusing anecdote.
Some vintage Mongol pencils boxes did have a drawing of a person of Asian-descent on them, which would seem to indicate that the name was related to the Mongol people, but with no history context to these old boxes designs (or their authenticity) it’s impossible to know for sure.
The Mongol History
The Mongol pencil has been around for many years, but it’s not exactly clear when it was first introduced.
Most research points to either 1893 or 1894, with some researchers saying earlier and some later.
This historical record does turn up advertisements for the Mongol pencil around 1900 and then the trademark was registered in 1905, which is a late date since the pencils had been in sure for some years then, but it’s an inarguable point in time thanks to the excellent record-keeping of the USPTO.
The XMAS Mongol
One of the most famous variations of the Mongol was the “XMAS” Mongol. This pencil had the normal yellow paint and pink eraser, but it had a special two-color red and green lead.
Mongol Brand Extensions
The Mongol brand wasn’t just wooden pencils. It also contained related products, some included:
- Mongol #38 mechanical pencil
- Mongol clamp-style eraser refill packs
- Mongol 1582 pencil with “Clamp” point protector and pocket clip (with clamp eraser)
- Mongol 1584 pencil with “Clamp” pencil point protector (with clamp eraser)
There are many pencils that are often compared to the Mongol, though most lack their history and long life. Some of these include:
- American Pencil Co.: Venus Velvet
- Dixon Ticonderoga
- Blaisdell Ben Franklin 500