A.W. Faber Pencilaid

Readers of a certain age can be forgiven if they thought the title of this post has to do with some sort of benefit concert. There was a time when just about every cause had an
“-aid” (like every scandal being some sort of “-gate”), and it was only a matter of time before you’d see folks like u2, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant, Simple Minds, Phil Collins, etc. making the rounds.

Instead, Pencilaid (not to be confused with The Penciliad—the epic poem of one man’s lifelong search for the perfect pencil) was an attachable sharpener made by A.W. Faber in the early 1920s:




If there had been a benefit concert called “Pencilaid”, one can only wonder what the all-star song would have sounded like. One thing is for sure: at the concert, they would have had the perfect item to sell at the merch tables.

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9 Responses to A.W. Faber Pencilaid

  1. Sean says:

    Does anyone have one of these, or a photo of one?


  2. Matthias says:

    If it is placed over the point of the pencil, that’s how I imagine it, is there not a danger that those finest imported razors damage the paper – or the unobservant user?


    • Sean says:


      Perhaps what they need is to be writing on the finest imported paper!


    • Sean says:

      I’m really curious to see how well (or not) this worked. I don’t know the proper engineering terms but it seems to me there’s nothing that would give you mechanical leverage, which would make it rather difficult to twist as it sharpens.


      • Matthias says:

        I agree. Another point is that all blog posts I have seen that looked at razor sharpeners said they didn’t work well (unless razor blades were different in the past I assume they really didn’t work better – people just weren’t used to ‘smooth’ sharpening yet). A final point is that the razor seems to be near the point of the pencil, but maybe I just can’t imagine properly how this contraption is supposed to work. The pencilaid is certainly one of the curious inventions of the past. I hope you’ll find a real one one day.


  3. Kevin says:

    I think it seems to act like a Kum 2 hole long point where the second hole is continually used to spruce up the graphite point as it dulls, without touching the wood. It seems it is a secondary sharpener in this regard, after the heavy lifting of the normal sharpeners.


  4. Kevin says:

    … well after a closer read, my theory is “out the window” because it stays permanently on the pencil until used up. It sure is a weird looking device.


  5. Oliver says:

    I found an image on one, which better illustrates how it works: http://leadholder.com/assets/history/dtzgn-1928-pencilaid-illustration.jpg
    I think the reason for not having those sharpeners anymore is the fact (assumingly) that its much harder to sharp the pencil PLUS that the sharpener only sharpens the wood, but not the lead. On top of that usage issue, its for sure much more difficult (hence expensive) to produce than a flat racer.


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