Ersatz Fabernalia


A.W. Faber replacement pencils No. 9061, ca. 1910.

DSCF0028 DSCF0014

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8 Responses to Ersatz Fabernalia

  1. Henrik says:

    Nice find – interesting headline. To my generation “Ersatz” is associated with WW2 and poor products. This is obviously not the case here… 🙂


  2. It’s interesting to see Ersatz (noun) used to name the genuine article, as in English the adjective so often (or almost inevitably?) suggests a cheap imitation or fake. OED: “A substitute or imitation (usually, an inferior article instead of the real thing).”


  3. Adair says:

    Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!


  4. Sean says:

    I thought that my original title, which was “Some Genuine Ersatz”, would have been a little too obscure. But from reading the comments, now it’s just a lost opportunity. 🙂

    Here is some information about Ersatz from Wikipedia. Quoting from the article:

    The reason for Ersatz being only a noun in German but also an adjective in English is that in German compound nouns are single words formed by concatenating the constituent nouns, while in English the constituents tend to remain separate words. In the case of Ersatzkaffee, in which the latter two syllables were recognisably “coffee” to English-speaking ears, this compound noun was anglicised by a calque translation that retained the constituent Ersatz as a loanword, resulting in “ersatz coffee”, in which the first part was interpreted as an adjective. In this way, “ersatz” came to be an English adjective connoting an inferior substitute.

    P.S. I wonder why “Ersatz-Bleistifte” on the box wasn’t compounded; is there a German usage rule for this instance that someone could share?


    • Henrik says:

      Thanks Sean. Then an “Ertsatzbleistift” would be a lesser pencil, or something which replaces a pencil in general – and the above shown “Ersatz – Bleistifte” would be replacements ? LOL 🙂 Anyway, those are such a nice find – congratulations again.


  5. Elaine says:

    Since the interior of the big box says “Made in Germany” in English, perhaps the words in the title were capitalized in the English manner to avoid having the adjective change the meaning of the noun. It is a real pencil, unlike the Staples number with a big crack in the “wood” that is sitting next to me as I comment.


  6. Matthias says:

    Oh, sooo beautiful!
    The Faber-Castell “Ersatzbleistifte” pencil refills are now compound:
    Maybe they used “Durchkopplung” instead of Compounding to emphasise the “Bleistifte” noun …or they just thought it looks better – I think it looks better with the hyphen.


  7. Sean says:

    Thanks Memm, and everyone, for your comments.

    RE: the compounding — yes, perhaps it’s nothing more than a grammatical sign of the times that eventually fell out of use.


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