“A New Eraser in a Jiffy!”

Here are some advertisements from 1924 touting the Eberhard Faber Van Dyke 601 with its “Clamp” tip and adjustable eraser. Even though I first learned about this pencil and eraser design almost 90 years after it was introduced, it still appeared modern to me:

And I’ve wondered to what extent the company explicitly promoted and advertised this design, whether it was a popular item, and why it eventually fell out of favor. These advertisements suggest that the Eberhard Faber Company was eager to extol their achievement:

“The Van Dyke Pencil No. 601 is the best pencil Eberhard Faber has ever made.”

“It is a perfect writing instrument and is the crowning achievement of 75 years of experience in pencil manufacturing.”

“The ‘Clamp’ tip cures all of your eraser troubles.”

The following seems like a classic selling point, even though it’s something that probably didn’t matter much to the average pencil buyer: very little time is required to adjust the eraser. So not only is it convenient and easy to use, just think of all the time you’ll be saving:

There are illustrations in both advertisements that demonstrate how to pull out the ‘Clamp’ and adjust the eraser. Process-type illustrations are not only eye-catching, they also take the place of boring, procedural text.

Since so much was care was taken in explaining how to adjust the eraser (both in the ads and on the pencils themselves), I wonder if there was ever any legitimate concern that some consumers may not be able to figure out how to do it, or whether the “instructions” were really just advertising in disguise:

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