I don’t use mechanical pencils, for the most part, though I do have two Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario pencils. As a result, lead refills aren’t usually something I pay much attention to. These Mongol refills, however, have a unique aspect to their containers: they are capped with the same clamp eraser seen on the Van Dyke, Microtomic, and Blackwing, as well as innumerable accessories like the extender from this post.
The design is so simple it’s easy to understand why Eberhard Faber exploited it in so many ways. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the design stems from a patent that goes back to 1891. The clamp eraser was integrated into the Van Dyke by 1921:
Due to their age, the clips and erasers are nearly welded-shut in the tubes, and the erasers stopped being usable sometime around the Truman administration. I’m going to try and do some restoration so that they can go from being blackened, hardened, unusable erasers to being red, hardened, unusable erasers:
I don’t know why I am so enamored of this eraser design; I think it has something to do with the fact that they are adjustable, which was a solution for a common complaint about tipped pencils. As it pertains to these containers, there is a sense of practicality that’s equal to its novelty.
The Eberhard Faber Blackwing was the last scion of the clamp eraser, which disappeared in 1998. But I think it stopped being a relevant pencil technology long before that. Still, I’m struck by the thought and care that went into these vintage products, and am amazed with the diversity of items this company offered. I would be interested to see the prototype sketches of all the things that didn’t make it into the catalog.