Just what does the Diamond Star logo mean?

2/14/13 Update: See the comments section for the definitive answer.

At first glance this 1922 notice from a stationery trade magazine seems poised to answer a long-standing question, and definitively at that:

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It’s always more satisfying when you get the explanation straight from company literature; this way you know you won’t be parsing fading memories or navigating through urban legends—just the straight facts. And now, after all this time, I am finally going to learn where the Diamond Star logo comes from:

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Hold on—protection and assurance? Merchandising co-operation? Come on—there has got to be some story about a tireless explorer, or better yet some noble Prussian officer who singlehandedly dispatched an entire enemy regiment, and whose last earthly gesture was to write—using his trusty Faber pencil (whose superior lead did not chip or break during the battle by the way)—a dying note to his young bride, saying that he has always loved her and that now she must stay strong for the children; little Dieter and Dagmar. But he died before completing it, managing only to draw this star and diamond design. The soldier’s name? Mongol van Dyke.

OK, maybe not exactly like that, but there’s got to be some explanation. I’m confident the next section will reveal the secret though, because it looks to be a list of some sort. If nothing else, it’s probably at least an anagram of STAR or something:

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Clay? Graphite? Complete co-operation? And nary an anagram to be found. This was all just one big bait and switch, wasn’t it? You tease us with promises of company history, but in the end, only give us a quasi-corporate pep talk. What’s next, the date for the company picnic? Cost projections for the next fiscal year?

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Yeah, right.

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O.K., I’ll take 2 (I could never stay mad at you for long anyway).

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12 Responses to Just what does the Diamond Star logo mean?

  1. Matthias says:

    It’s interesting to see what reasons are given for different logos that are actually similar.
    So EF’s Diamond Star stands for perfection. Montblanc’s Star stands for the icy peak of the Mont Blanc, if I remember right. None of them seem to be linked to the stars in the sky.
    The explanations aren’t too far fetched, but the meaning is difficult to guess unless someone is telling you what’s behind it. Thanks for telling us about EF’s star.

    Like

    • Sean says:

      This post is just kind of a stylized version of my experience the first time I read this notice. I was hopeful there might be a little backstory, but it was more about company messaging. I’ve heard a few explanations about the logo, but they are very generic—I get the feeling that the specific inspiration for the design might be lost to the general public.

      But poor little Dieter and Dagmar…

      Like

  2. I love this, having wondered about the Diamond Star (which in 1960 became the name for the Mongol’s new lead formulation). Now I wonder if the Diamond Star might hve been inspired by the Koh-i-Noor name, itself inspired by the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Just idle speculation.

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    • Sean says:

      Diamonds and stars are both tried-and-true metaphors for things like brilliance, toughness, longevity, beauty, aspiration, leadership, value/expense, rarity, etc. But in this case perhaps the diamond shape isn’t supposed to mean “diamond”, only because it’s called a “black diamond”—a color you usually don’t associate with diamonds. Then again graphite is black, and chemically speaking is closely related to diamond: if oil is “black gold”, then maybe graphite is “black diamond”?

      If there were ever a moment where Mr. Faber IV could drop by and offer an historic and clarifying word or two, this would be that moment. 🙂 Couldn’t you just imagine it?

      Like

    • Sean says:

      Here’s a link to Michael’s very entertaining post about the Fuse-tex:

      http://mleddy.blogspot.com/2013/01/nationals-et-cetera.html

      Like

  3. Kevin says:

    Ah, those brain-storming marketing meetings will forever remain behind the corporate veil. Can’t give too much away to our competition. So much of pencil and in general product history is lost because of corporate sensitivity.

    Like

  4. Sean says:

    Blog reader Jeremy got in touch to let me know his father worked for Eberhard Faber for 35 years. When asked about the logo, Mr. Krane replied:

    “The Star Logo has to due with their Graphite leads. Graphite is a close relative to diamonds in strength and quality. Thus the Star Logo.”

    There you have it! Thanks to Jeremy and his father for letting us know.

    Like

    • Gunther says:

      If you apply pressure to carbon you get graphite, and if you apply even more pressure to graphite you get diamonds. I have thought about this but considered it too obvious to mention. However, since strength and quality (in terms of physical properties) of graphite and diamonds are quite different I won’t consider them close relatives. I don’t want to question Jeremy’s story but I am still not convinced. I’d rather say that the star was choosen either because of its positive connotations or because of its past in the pencil industry. In his thesis “Die Nürnberger Bleistiftindustrie und ihre Arbeiter in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart” (“Nuremberg’s Pencil Industry and its Workers in the Past and Present”, 1895), Dr. Eduard Schwanhäußer, who took over Großberger & Kurz in 1865 and founded the Schwan Pencil Company, writes about the early pencil trademarks. Until 1708 there were none of them but in that year the Rugsamt, an early labour inspectorate, introduced twelve trademarks and made them mandatory; the fourth on the list was the star.

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      • Sean says:

        I think the extent to which one would relate diamond to graphite has everything to do with the context or premise. They have a common chemistry but differ in terms of molecular structure; these are two things that I think the average pencil buyer is unaware of. However, I think what they would be aware of are the connotations associated with diamonds in general. Also, I would consider the diamond shape to be a signifier here rather than a representation. What I mean by that is, “diamond” is the word that describes the basic shape (a rhombus) depicted in the logo, but from there one would then have to extrapolate the meaning of “diamond” as a mineral or gemstone (i.e. the shape of the logo does not represent a gemstone per se).

        Your description of the history of the star shape in terms of the pencil industry is very interesting, and I think a very plausible explanation, yet the diamond shape, which frames the star, still has to be accounted for. I’m not so sure that Eberhard Faber was interested in trying to explicitly convey an association between diamond and graphite to the consumer, but I think there is a sense of logic and consistency to it that those who were designing the logo would have likely been aware of.

        Like

  5. Gunther says:

    Your thoughts about the relations between diamond and graphite are very plausible, also your idea that the shape is a signifier here. Maybe the fact that the diamond shape was (or still is) connected with energy and braveness adds to the positive connotations. – Yes, I too think that the diamond shape wasn’t picked at random (or because it its on the pencil).

    Like

  6. Pingback: Eberhard Faber: A Diamond Star Is Born | Contrapuntalism

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