While the Blackwing 602 is the most acclaimed of Eberhard Faber’s pencils, there are other famous lines. Many people know about the Mongol for instance, and another notable family of pencils is the Van Dyke line.
While the Van Dyke pencils are no longer popular, they are interesting and worth learning about.
Van Dyke History
The Van Dyke line stretches back to around 1900 when it was released as a drawing pencil. It was then sold as the Microtomic Van Dyke for some time, noting the innovative “Microtomic” lead it used. Eventually the Van Dyke name was dropped and these pencils were simply sold as the Microtomic.
Researchers say that the Van Dyke was first released in 1895, but the exact date has been lost to time. The pencils disappeared for some time but were brought back in 1914 when the line was restarted.
Interestingly, in 1921, the Van Dyke became the first Eberhard Faber pencil with the Blackwing-style “clamp” eraser.
Van Dyke Today
Today, in 2022, it’s easy to find Van Dyke pencils on Ebay, Etsy, and other places online. The Microtomic Van Dykes are no longer made, but they are widely available, particularly if you are looking for higher grade of hardness (most are 3H or 5H).
The most famous Van Dyke today is the 601, largely because of its adjacency to the Blackwing 602. The 601 has the flat “clamp” eraser like the 602 and has been sought by collectors who can no longer get Eberhard Faber Blackwing’s for reasonable prices.
As a result the 601 has become quite rare, but it’s easy to find other Van Dyke pencils, especially the 600, though this lacks the clamp eraser and its a drawing pencil, unlike the Blackwing.
Chisel Point Graphite
A small number of Van Dyke pencils used a rectangular graphite in a normal round or hexagonal pencil. Which design which was known as a “Chisel Point” pencil, make a standard pencil write like a carpenter’s pencil.
One such pencil is the Van Dyke 2B Chisel Point pencil, while a more modern one if the Faber Castell 9003 Chisel Point.
The rectangular lead allowed for straighter, more consistent lines, so long as the lead was sharpened properly. These pencils were initially sharpened with a belt sander of some kind, and then could be sharpener with a knife, much in the way you’d sharpen a modern carpenter’s pencil. This would preserve the rectangular lead and give the writer the graphite shape they were looking for.
Thanks Arghyle for contributions to this article.