Less Waste—Longer Wear


Even slightly damaged this Eberhard Faber Mongol display is striking. I’m not sure if the white void on the right side is meant to be used for anything in particular (e.g. a retailer’s address) or if it is simply a graphic device, but I like how your eye is drawn from the top of the placard toward the right side.

There are several slogans, including the claim that this pencil provides “Twice the wear between sharpenings.”*


And the familiar mention of their proprietary “woodclinched” technology:


As to the date I’m not sure, but there are some clues. First is the price of 5¢, but this was a price point for a rather long time. Another clue is the ferrule—instead of the brass-colored band it’s painted:


This is reminiscent of some the clamp erasers found on their Van Dyke pencils:


And even on their Blackwing pencils:

Michael's Moving Day

But I’m still not sure as to why they were done this way. I can imagine it being an early attempt at what became the “usual Mongol band”, which also matched the yellow polish used for the barrel. But I can also imagine painting the ferrule this way was a cost- or materials-saving effort during the years leading up to America’s entry into the Second World War. Perhaps paint was used on ferrules that were first made of less desirable metal rather than the usual brass, until all non-essential use of metal was eventually prohibited by the War Production Board.

2030Further supporting these pencils being from the 1940s is the stamp on the barrel mentioning “complastic” lead. This advertisement from 1940 mentions the same, and the logo stamped on the barrel matches that found on the pencils in the display, though the ferrule in the advertisement is the brass-type, not painted:


The painted band on the ferrules remains a mystery to me, one whose explanation I hope to discover at some point. I’d like to know whether it was a short-lived design choice or a response to material scarcity, or something else altogether.


There were countless beautiful displays like this one, made by the Eberhard Faber Co., as well as every other pencil manufacturer. I don’t know about you but if I saw something like this in a store today—even one with cheap, terrible pencils in it—I’d still probably buy one.


*I’m O.K. with the period inside the quotation marks here, because there is more to the sentence contained between them.

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5 Responses to Less Waste—Longer Wear

  1. Matthias says:

    Beautiful pictures and colours!
    I also have to say that I like the painted ferrules. They look quite …sporty.


    • Sean says:


      I like them too, mainly because they match the barrel. Also none of them look exactly the same, which almost gives the impression they were painted by hand. Imagine that?


  2. Andy Welfle says:

    “Woodclinched for extra strength” — Man, I need that sign above my desk! 😀

    Great photos! Typography was just better back then, wasn’t it?


  3. Patrick says:

    Just going through some of your older posts. I only have a couple of these but I love the painted ferrules too. I had the same thought when I first got them, that they gave the impression of being hand painted. To my eye, they’re much more preferable to the normal band. They have a warmth about them that gives the pencil a certain charm.


    • Sean says:

      I agree — I’ve been hoping to come across a photo one of these days of the precise point in the assembly process where the bands were painted on the ferrules.


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