You might remember my 2011 blog post about the Schwanberg and the pencil cedar. If you visit the castle grounds, mentioned in that blog post, you’ll have a chance to look for the pencil cedar as part of an organised tour this Sunday.
Two more blog posts that mention the pencil cedar:
Schön gespitzte Bleistifte from Lexikaliker
The newspaper article has been taken from the Kitzingen Section of the Main-Post newspaper from 14th February 2013. I believe that the use of the fax of the article in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.
In the 12th century my home town, Volkach, became part of the county of Castell, which belonged to – you might have guessed – the Counts of Castell1. Quite a bit later, in 1896, Alexander Graf zu Castell-Rüdenhausen married Ottilie Freiin von Faber and the name of the pencil manufacturer Faber changed to Faber-Castell.
Except this link to Faber-Castell there isn’t really much of a “pencil link” in the surrounding area of Volkach. All the exiting pencil stuff is happening about 100 km further South where you’d find the big pencil manufacturers like Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Schwan-Stabilo and Lyra.
I wrote there isn’t much of a “pencil link” here – well, the area around my home town can boast with one other link to the world of pencils, even though it is rather unknown. Trees from North America were planted in Germany to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production …and some of them were planted on Schwanberg2, an elevation not far from the town of Castell, by the Counts of Castell – to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production. The trees brought over from North America were the Pencil Cedar (juniperus virginiana) and the Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus). You can still find some of the Pencil Cedars near Castell. 100 years ago there were also many well established Pencil Cedars North East of Faber-Castell’s home town, Stein, planted by Faber, which probably didn’t survive3. These trees are not really used any more for pencil production, but if you have an old pencil that is more than 70 years old, the wood might be from a Pencil Cedar.
- At that time it actually wasn’t a town yet, but documents show that by 1258 it was a town (‘in civitate nostra Volka’). [↩]
- The Schwanberg isn’t really a hill, but an elevation (474m / 1555 feet) – about 200m above the surrounding area. According to legend Saint Hadeloga (sometimes called Adeloga or Hadla) built an abbey (nunnery) on Schwanberg. She was the daughter of Karl Martell (Charles the Hammer). He repudiated her when she vowed virginity (so she is not mentioned very often in history) but they reconciled many years later. She is actually an aunt of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, and she is the patron saint for fever. [↩]
- This tree was first introduced to Europe in the 17th century. Faber is supposed to have planted, between several thousand and several tens of thousands of these trees in the 19th century, depending on which source you check. I assume many must have survived outside Schwanberg, but it is unknown how many are left and where they are. One of Lexikaliker’s blog posts indicates that the trees planted by Faber near Nuremberg did not survive. Other Pencil Cedars planted in Germany did not survive either. [↩]
I think I should start this blog entry with a warning. If you expect this to be a pencil case review you might be slightly disappointed …there is something, but not too much to write about this pencil case, so to make this blog entry more substantial I will also talk a little bit about the Eberhard Faber brand and include a little bit of information about the pencils they offer in Europe. OK, let’s start:
When I was in Germany in April 2010 I bought this Eberhard Faber pencil case at the Müller store in Volkach, Lower Franconia. Müller is a drug store chain with shops in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and other countries. The Müller shops I have seen so far had a nice selection of stationery.
Keeping the size of the shop in Volkach in mind they had a rather big stationery section. All the common products and brand were stocked …those that you would find in most shops in Germany, i.e. mainly Staedtler, Faber-Castell and for mechanical pencils the common Japanese brands as well.
You will also find some Lyra pencils, but don’t get your hopes up if you are looking for niche products. You will certainly find sharpeners, but if you are want a specific model not from Staedtler or Faber-Castell, but from Dux, M+S or Eisen you will be disappointed …but to be fair: not many stationery shops stock these brands anyway.
One of the reasons why I bought this pencil case was to get it while it is still available. Eberhard Faber was an American brand, but was sold to Faber-Castell. Since the 1990s Sanford owns it and as far as I know Eberhard Faber products disappeared more or less completely in the USA. If this is not the case and Eberhard Faber articles are still available in the USA I would be grateful if you could let me know. Not uncommon in such a case: another company held the trademark for another geographic area, in this case Staedtler continued to use the Eberhard Faber name in Europe1. Recently Staedtler sold the Eberhard Faber trademark, which now belongs to Faber-Castell. My understanding is that current Eberhard Faber products will not completely disappear, but will instead be sold under the Staedtler name in the future.
Eberhard was the brother of Lothar von Faber, the great-great grandfather of Count Anton Wolfgang, the current CEO of Faber-Castell. Originally Eberhard managed the subsidiary in New York and later he established his own company under his own name (see page 8 of the 2 / 2007 issue of Faber-Castell topics).
If you want to know more about the Eberhard Faber brand: page 5 of the 1/2010 issue of Faber-Castell topics has a great article about the history of the Eberhard Faber brand.
Back to the pencil case. The pencil case was €14.99 ($19.90, £ 12.45) and is filled with 17 pencils (all of them triangular shaped), an eraser, a ruler, a sharpener, 6 ink cartridges and a timetable. The material of the pencil case is real leather, but unfortunately the leather is rather thin. Four of the pencils are the Tricki Dicki highlighter pencils in neon colours: yellow, orange, green and red. The pencil case was available in three different colours: tan, black and maroon, the one I bought. Just for your information: In Germany maroon is usually referred to as “Bordeaux red”.
Although possibly not the best choice of name for English speaking countries, these pencils work very well, but like all highlighter pencils they cover written or printed letters to some extent. They look very similar to the Staedtler textsurfer dry, so I assume the Tricki Dicki and the textsurfer dry might actually be the same pencil. The circles, stars and triangles printed on the Tricki Dicki pencils can also be found on Staedtler’s new learner’s pencil. I could not find a direct equivalent to the other colour pencils from the pencil case in Staedtler’s product range. The most similar pencil seems to be the Staedtler ergosoft, but unlike the ergosoft, the Eberhard Faber 1410 colour pencils do not have ABS coating.
The sharpener that comes with the pencil case is the Möbius+Ruppert double hole magnesium sharpener 0211. The white eraser that you get does not have anything printed on it.
The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is a tri-fold pencil case with the fold-out part containing a timetable on one side and the ruler, the ink cartridges and three 1210 pencils on the other side.
I am not sure whether there is an equivalent pencil that is being sold under the Staedtler name. If there is one it might be the triangular Noris Club.
The Eberhard Faber 1210 pencils are very nice indeed, rather dark and not scratchy. They do however look relatively boring and I have to admit that I am less of a fan of triangular pencils than most other people.
The Eberhard Faber Lederetui is great value for money. You get quite a few pencil and a nice sharpener for your money. Compared to high-end pencil cases like the Sonnenleder Lasse it does however feel a bit flimsy and the leather, even though it is real leather, feels quite plasticy. This pencil case is being sold to school children, therefore the thin leather makes me wonder whether the pencil case will survive very long in the real world… Nevertheless I am sure it will last for a long time if you look after it.
Staedtler press release about selling the Eberhard Faber trademark to Faber-Castell
Price: April 2010
Exchange rates: August 2010
- This reminds me of Grundig, I mentioned them recently in another blog entry [↩]