Graf von Faber-Castell

After many years of settling for whatever pencil was within reach, and being almost completely unaware of the many kinds of great pencils—both new and old—to be found online, I can remember the very day everything changed. And what’s more, I know exactly what to blame thank: PencilTalk. Among the many things I saw there for the first time were examples of the Graf von Faber-Castell line, which made me want to find out more about them.

Launched in 1993, one of the first items was this pencil with a cap that acts as an extender. It’s plated in silver, and at that time it appealed to me more than their Perfect Pencil, which was larger, heavier, and was rather expensive. I was never very interested in owning an expensive handcrafted pen, and since I used pencils more than anything else I thought this would be a great item to use and care for:

Looking for one of these was my first taste of what was going to come, and in droves: it was no longer being manufactured. It was easy enough to come across a more current version of the Perfect Pencil, but I couldn’t seem to find this bleistiftverlängerer. Making things worse, some online retailers who carry the GvF-C line tend to let their product photos lapse, which added to the confusion as to their availability. After months of waiting and searching, I was lucky to find one online through an auction site. It was part of a desk set that was called Cassette Nr. I. It came with a sharpener, extra erasers, and 4 spare pencils.

The earlier version of this product had an eraser in the top of the lengthener, and the pencils had a silver-plated end cap. The later version of the lengthener no longer had the removable cap, and the eraser was part of an assembly that now screwed on to the end of the pencil via a brass-threaded tip:

The current version of the refills for the Perfect Pencil are slightly different, and the kind pictured above are no longer made. I should have learned my lesson from all that—I should have stopped right there. But all I did was ask myself a question. It seemed like an innocent question at the time:

“If this is called Cassette Nr. I, was there a Cassette Nr. II?”

Yes.

And just my luck, there were even fewer of these around and was even harder to find than the previous one. But it was all too interesting to me, and I was hooked. Looking back, this is what got the whole ball rolling (quoth Sisyphus).

Now years later, I still use the Graf von Faber-Castell pencil and lengthener. And when you take its design, form, and function into consideration, I might be willing to say it has always been my favorite. I still regularly visit PencilTalk too, as well as some other great blogs such as LexikalikerBleistift, and Pencil Revolution when I want to brush up on the latest pencilnalia.

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17 Responses to Graf von Faber-Castell

  1. Kevin says:

    Well Sean, it’s funny how what comes around goes around, because I picked up the American Vintage pencil bug from you…and now you come up with a post about super expensive GvFCs, and NO, I will not be tempted yet again (really!, NO!, well… maybe). Super photos.

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  2. Henrik says:

    Those were the days – I still remember your blog and those super photos. Aaand I did buy a few of those GvF pencils too, so it is contagious. Actually, the “Bleistiftverlänger” is still my daily companion. If I remember correctly, the no. 1 model was meant for corporate gifts – in the beginning you could not buy it – but it was put on the market later, on the advice from the Graf’s financial advisers. The No 2 was the purely commercial version and it underwent several changes – with or without eraser etc. until it became what it is today. Like you, I prefer the older versions – as they are actually functional extenders – not just heavy caps, but it is still a brilliant idea. More of the great photos, please 🙂

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    • Sean says:

      Thanks Henrik, and good to hear from you. That’s the first time I’ve had it explained to me about the corporate gifts, insofar as they weren’t always available to the public. I hope the full story and line comes out in the forthcoming Faber-Castell book.

      Those were indeed the days. I remember spotting some of the lengtheners on eBay.de, and didn’t you buy 2 of them? If only that seller was willing to ship to the U.S. Of all the modern-day products that went by the wayside, I think I’m surprised most that this one is no longer made. It’s the perfect size and shape, and not nearly expensive as the Perfect Pencil line.

      re: photos — unfortunately, having suffered a theft a few years ago, just about all of those pictures (and half of the things pictured) are now gone. But here are a few that I recovered:

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      • Henrik says:

        Thanks Sean – it is really an aestetically pleasing pencil, no matter which version…. Yes, I have been put a little ”out of action” for many moons – I’m getting old.
        Anyway, if you are interested, I think I have a zip file with all the ”Graf von” photos from back then – being infected by the bug, I also download picture of pencils :-). I could go look for it and mail it to you?
        Kind regards Henrik

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  3. Sean says:

    I’d really appreciate that, Henrik. Please go ahead and e-mail them—thanks!

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  4. Pingback: Graf von Faber-Castell (2) | Contrapuntalism

  5. Pingback: Graf von Faber-Castell Silver Pencil Extender | pencilsandotherthings

  6. Matt says:

    Thank you for this post, I had no idea there was an earlier, lighter extender version, so much more useful! I have the current perfect pencil and find the sharpener somewhat useless (can the blade even be replaced?!) and the eraser system fussy. But it is beautiful. Thanks again!

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  7. Hi, I find this information very helpful since I’ve got a perfect pencil set a few weeks ago. It is a “vintage” model, black wooden pencils and this lovely hand held sharpener . I just can’t find any information about it and your blog gave me some clues. I think this is a discontinued set no longer available in the market nor even at the web. I was wondering if you can tell me something more about this wonderful set like manufacturing year and price. Please feel free to email me so I can drop some pics to you. Kind regards. Luis. (luis_enrique25@hotmail.com)

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    • Sean says:

      If your set has a separate sharpener, and there is no sharpener in the extender of the pencil, then you have the bleistiftverlängerer desk set rather than the Perfect Pencil. This set came in 1993 before the Perfect Pencil but was eventually discontinued. It is plated in silver rather than in platinum.

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      • Thank you Sean. So, since this bleistiftverlängerer desk set is discontinued I suppose it’s a colection item? I actually want to put it on the market because I am not a pencil user or collectionist, Do you know it’s actual price? Are you interested in get it?

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      • Sean says:

        As the saying goes, “it’s only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.” 🙂 So to that end I don’t know what it’s ‘worth’ per se; I’ve seen them go for a range of prices, depending on condition. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it rare, but collectible to some.

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  8. By the way, yes, it has a separate sharpener. And a two pieced eraser mechanism

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  9. Osny says:

    Sean, thank you for this post and the beautiful photos. I just got my Bleistiftverlängerer set in São Paulo, Brazil. A lovely, unused set. I think it’s the very first edition, with built-in threads in the back of the pencils and push-pull erasers (as the one in your first picture).

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