“An Effective Silent Salesman”

I have wondered about the history of this Eberhard Faber pencil stand. About a year ago I found a patent that was filed in 1922 by Lothar Faber for a “display stand for pencils and the like”, but that’s been it so far:

But just recently I found this 1923 advertisement in a stationery trade magazine that confirms it is a counter display for resellers. In a separate but similar advertisement in the same magazine, it states that the stand is free so long as you purchase the 72 items pictured with it:

In 1922, a Van Dyke 601 with the new clamp eraser sold for 5¢, which today would be around 64¢.

Dealer catalogs are few and far between, much less one from the 1920s, so this ad is remarkable for the number of pencils, penholders, extenders, and caps it features. If you look to the far left, you will see the extender from a recent post:

The early 1920s seem to have been an especially productive time for the Eberhard Faber Company. Featured in the center of the display you can see their top-of-the-line pencil, the Van Dyke 601, with its clamp eraser. I’ve made several posts about this pencil and eraser, including wording in Faber’s patent referring to the metal piece that holds the eraser as a “clip”. But for the first time I’ve found an advertisement that announces this eraser as a new feature:

Looking at the illustration, the small metal clip has two grooves in it which help to hold the eraser in place. This clip underwent design changes over the decades, but the ad confirms what the original design looked like. This can help to date pencils from this period, such as the Van Dyke in this photo:

Of course, there’s no telling how long these designs were used, or even how accurate the illustrations are. I’ve learned from past experience (and from experts’ advice) that you can’t rely on catalog images for dating purposes. But I’m not trying to date these things to a forensic certainty: just knowing that they are from the 1920s is good enough for me.

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6 Responses to “An Effective Silent Salesman”

  1. Gunther says:

    Absolutely amazing – thank you for your research and for presenting all these gems in such a great way!


  2. Kevin says:

    I have a black plastic version of the EF stand, which originally held 100 Faber Castell cheap texta colors… 5 bucks. The textas were quickly tossed, but the plastic stand is a brilliant pencil holder. Thanks again Sean for your meticulous research.


  3. Gunther says:

    At least plastic – much better than the stand-up displays made from cardboard which are ubiquitous in Germany. Some of them are quite nifty but in general they don’t come up to wooden ones. – By the way, the last German manufacturer who still has wooden displays is LYRA.


  4. Sean says:

    Thanks, Kevin and Gunther. That stand is another product of times-gone-by. What I like about it is that it’s less an accessory as it is a functional object, but the kind and context of the “job” that it did is something we rarely see in stores anymore, much less the quality of the stand itself.


  5. Adair says:

    After several years of trying, I managed finally to acquire one of these wooden EF holders. It is a thing of beauty. As Sean points out, it is a perfect balance of form and functionality.


  6. Pingback: Found It. | Contrapuntalism

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