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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


The Stein Way: A Visit to Faber-Castell

Tsunago Blackwing Rescue


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Extenders are a handy way of getting down to the last inch of an Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602. But depending on the design, they can make sharpening the pencil a bit tedious. The Tsunago sharpener allows you to mate pencils stubs, which is nearly like getting a brand new pencil altogether.


The sharpener has three holes: one bores-out the center, one whittles-down the point, and the last cleans the edges:


Step One: Remove the clamp ferrule and trim the pencil at its full diameter. Put that end into the sharpener:


It creates a hollowed-out center, but it may take a little practice getting it aligned properly.

Step Two: Place the point of the other stub into the second hole of the sharpener. It will be whittled-down to match the diameter of the hollowed center:


Step Three: Join the two pieces together.


The manufacturer recommends adding some wood glue, which isn’t a bad idea. But the ends are rather snug even without it:


You’re not limited by having to use two ends of the same kind of pencil. For example you could make a Van Dykewing, or even a Microtomiwing if you’d like, so long as the diameters of the two stubs (or however many as you’d like) are similar.


Signs of the Times


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Jurassic Blackwings


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Jurassic2Images ©Universal Pictures, 1993.


The pencils in the last photo must have been Blackwing stunt-doubles: I mean, to put actual 602s at such risk…




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Another example of an “early” Eberhard Faber Blackwing with an arrow cut from the ferrule, a reminder that the eraser is adjustable and can be pulled out. There is also a gold version with a painted black band.


One wonders how many ferrules were made during each production run, and to what extent design decisions were driven by cost (there were at least a dozen or more variations). To that end, how much did the cut-out arrow add to production time and expense?