One thing you’ll find in stationery trade publications from the early 1900s up through the middle of the century is an emphasis on window displays, such as the one pictured above from 1915. Just like it was with department stores, stationery dealers wanted to attract the attention of passers-by, often with samples of product arranged in eye-catching ways. Manufacturers put a lot of thought into display materials as well, which were made available to resellers:
Through researching the Faber houses in America I’ve found a few dozen examples of window displays, but this one from “Horder’s Stationery Stores” in Chicago grabbed my attention:
The photo is from 1921, which was the year the Eberhard Faber Van Dyke 601 (with the clamp eraser) debuted. And as you can see, the display is nearly filled with striped Van Dyke boxes. But it was the name of the store—”Horder’s”—that rang a bell:
The pencils in this vintage box of Van Dykes have “Horder’s, Inc. Chicago.” stamped opposite the brand label. This helps to confirm the date they were made but also answers the question as to whether pencil companies likely offered custom labeling on their premium products. This isn’t the only custom Van Dyke that I’ve seen, but I wonder if the reseller had to pay more; I can imagine a situation where the Eberhard Faber Co. might label the pencils with the dealer’s name for free as a means to entice them to carry the line.
Though impossible to prove or otherwise demonstrate, I like to imagine that the pencils in my hand might be from the ones pictured in that display window.