In a previous post I mentioned how I came to learn about some of the incredible items made by Graf von Faber-Castell. Nearly four years had gone into searching for information, locating, and occasionally buying some of these great pieces (ordered from places all over the world). And much like the history of Eberhard Faber products the history of the GvF-C line was equally interesting to me vis-à-vis differing versions of the items and when they were available. There was little to be found though, but a 1997 catalog helped explain some things; I’m hoping one day to get my hands on the early catalogs, from 1993-1996, then 1998-2000 or so. Sadly, most of what I had collected was taken in a robbery, including the photos I took of them (which were used for a previous blog). But thanks to blog reader Henrik, I now have copies of those photos—and I thought I’d include some of them here.
Along with their bleistiftverlängerer there was an early version of the Perfect Pencil, which had a threaded two-piece cap that tightened around the pencil. This cap as well as the eraser end cap were plated in silver. The hand-held sharpener (which I still have and use almost daily) is also plated in silver—the current version is plated in platinum.
There is also the sterling silver version of the Perfect Pencil (center) and the GvF-C circular eraser, which is made of natural rubber—something you don’t see much anymore.
There is just something about going to all this trouble to make a pencil; from the fluting of the barrel, to the perfectly-machined silver and platinum end caps. And it really isn’t just marketing—these pencils might very well be ‘perfect’. Here are three versions of their desk pencil:
The following photos are of the discontinued pencils with the brass-threaded ends, two different silver eraser/end caps, and one with the current silver end cap (center).
These longer desk pencils are refills for a comparatively short-lived desk set that had full-length pencils rather than the pocket-pencils and lengthener. Since they still use this case, I wonder if they have ever considered using this longer insert and filling it with any of their current desk pencils plus a sharpener:
One more of the bleistiftverlängerer:
While one could maybe argue value vs. price, you can’t argue about the quality and the attention to detail. The price of refills and the difficulty sometimes involved with finding them means that they’ll never be an everyday sort of pencil, but I think that’s probably the company’s entire point: they’re not everyday pencils. They’re an indulgence, but they are items that will last a lifetime if you care for them.
Whether it’s a Graf von Faber-Castell desk pencil or some vintage wood-cased pencil the dichotomy is the same: enjoying them means consuming them. But precisely because it isn’t a sustainable indulgence (i.e. cost and/or availability) it invites you to slow down, consider, pay attention to, and appreciate the things that might otherwise go unnoticed—like putting pencil to paper. If nothing else, you certainly will want to get every last bit of use out of each pencil:
Even presidents need a good pencil now and again: