“The other [pencils] are a snare, a delusion, and utterly useless.” Some advice from Eberhard Faber about his pencils.

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Blackwings_and_Box

In an interview given to the Salt Lake Herald in 1906, Eberhard Faber II offered some sage advice to pencil users. While most of what he said borders on common sense it’s still illuminating to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak; like Bach himself telling you that sevenths should resolve downward by step, or Ted Williams telling you to keep your eye on the ball.

tip

Never bite the end of a pencil. It ruins the glue used in holding the pencil boards together causing them to separate.”

Never place the lead point of a pencil in the mouth. It tends to harden and harm the lead.

…no mention of possible harm to the person on the other end of the pencil.

Never sharpen a pencil when in a hurry. The result will be that more points are broken and material wasted than if sharpened leisurely.

As true today as it was 110 years ago.

Buy only the best pencils. The others are a snare, a delusion and utterly useless.

To be fair he didn’t say buy only Eberhard Faber pencils, but rather “the best” pencils. I wonder who makes those.

When buying pencils select grades suited to your work. Too hard or too soft pencils never work well.

There you have it, and remember, stay away from those delusional pencils.

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“Preferred By Most Secretaries”

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Blackwing1953_1953

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Birds Of A Feather

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Blackwing and Van Dyke 3

Some of the many versions of the clamp eraser ferrule.

Blackwing and Van Dyke

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I first met Count von Faber-Castell in December of 2012, as part of a visit to Stein that Faber-Castell had generously arranged. During the second evening about 10 of us or so were gathered in a fine Nürnberg restaurant, not far from the town center, upstairs and in a private room. The long dining table took up most of the space, laid out as you might expect—name cards and all. I found that my card was placed right next to the Count’s, alerting my jet-lagged mind that I at least ought to have a suitable icebreaker in reserve for the moment we’d be introduced.

A few minutes later he entered the room, a head taller than everyone, then began circulating around the table giving friends, co-workers, and us strangers each equal amounts of his time and a warm greeting. We were still standing having just arrived ourselves, and the room hummed with low chatter as he made his way to his seat.

Then, standing next to me and smiling we began to shake hands. But before I could say anything, he drew in closely to speak to me privately. Delivered in his urbane Franconian accent, his first words to me were: “So. You must be the Blackwing freak, yes?”

Turns out, I didn’t need an icebreaker after all.

DSCF0040Count von Faber-Castell examines some
vintage Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencils.

Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell, 1941-2016

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The Stein Way: A Visit to Faber-Castell