Time Capsule

Either a 1/2 gross box of Eberhard Faber Van Dyke drawing pencils, grade B, or a time capsule; I’m not sure which:


I don’t know their exact date but based on the packaging and design, I think they are from the 1930s, perhaps even the early 1940s:


Each box of 12 has the same stripe motif as the larger carton, and the top is hinged to the bottom by a strip of similarly-striped tape. The colors are deep and brilliant:


The design of this box was carried forward into the 1940s, when the Eberhard Faber Company began to push their “Microtomic” refining process:

DSCF1941This stripe motif would remain on Van Dyke packaging for many years to come, and was a feature of many Eberhard Faber packaging designs as well:DSCF0704

Back to the Van Dykes—each box of 12 has a piece of textured paper that wraps the top 6 pencils, and contains the company’s pitch for their product. The quality of both the printing and the paper is remarkable:

DSCF0008The gold coloring on the underside of the lid is consistent with the underside of this (presumably contemporary) Blackwing box:


The Van Dyke was Eberhard Faber’s flagship pencil, perhaps much in the way that the Castell 9000 was to A.W. Faber (and is to Faber-Castell), which launched in 1905. The earliest mention I have seen so far of the Van Dyke is this 1898 advertisement from The School Journal:


However, it seems that the Van Dyke experienced something akin to a re-launch in 1914:

The American stationerFrom American Stationer and Office Outfitter, 1918.

[Some of the language in this advertisement is likely influenced by the impact of the First World War, but I can’t help noticing the irony in this pencil—made by an extended German family and named after a Dutch man—being a “truly American” product.]

The boxes and pencils are in such good condition it’s easy to imagine that the last person who handled them might have been the person who helped make them:


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3 Responses to Time Capsule

  1. “Pencils, grade B, or a time capsule” — but certainly not a grade-B time capsule. This is a grade-A time capsule.

    I like the way the cloud begins to look like the most reasonable place in the world to find a pencil.


  2. Sean says:

    Like the sailboat on the early Blackwing box, you can only wonder about some of the graphic devices found on EF packaging. And if I’m not mistaken, that same cloud-full-o-pencil was used for company letterhead for a time as well.


  3. Pingback: The Red-Winged Flightless Mongol | Contrapuntalism

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