A.W. Faber’s “Scholars Favorite”

I’ve used the same pencil case for about 5 years now—a small, zippered canvas bag made by Faber-Castell:


It holds more than I need at any one time to work, but having some extra space allows me to bring along more choices. It’s very durable too, having held up under the stresses and strains of traveling through more then a dozen European countries, and as many (if not more) states and provinces across North America.

There are countless products available today (including homemade solutions to choose from) but they all need to provide the same basic functions: to keep things together and to keep things from breaking. But with a soft bag pencil points are vulnerable, so my costlier and harder-to-replace items get added protection in the form of a metal spitzenschoner:



This vintage pencil case from A.W. Faber called Scholars Favorite (no apostrophe) solves the protection problem by being made of wood. The center is hollowed-out and the cap stays on by way of friction (rather than being threaded, etc.).


It has a rather thin diameter so three pencils is about all you can fit inside, but I like this because it seems more purpose-built that way—bring only what you need, plus a spare perhaps. There is another explanation regarding its storage capacity though, having to do with its age:


The original owner of this pencil case had inside it a dip-pen holder as well as several slate pencils (which have a much smaller diameter than graphite pencils), so it could carry more of then-contemporary writing tools. I haven’t seen this particular case in any advertisements or catalogs yet but I’d place it from the 1920s or ’30s. Owing to the use of English on the label, I’m presuming it came from the American branch of A.W. Faber:


One final touch: there is some padding at the bottom on the inside to soften the impact for nibs and pencil points.

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7 Responses to A.W. Faber’s “Scholars Favorite”

  1. Sola says:

    Wow! That pencil case is awesome 🙂

    And your staff notations are really neat. I always wondered how people were able to decipher the messy manuscripts left behind by composers – how do you know for sure which note it is, which line it’s on? But with yours they will have no problem 🙂


    • Sean says:

      Thanks, Sola.

      Regarding music manuscripts, the era in which they were written plays a part, too. For example, a very messy passage in Bach might be less difficult to decipher than, say, a barely messy passage in Xenakis owing to the differences in compositional practices. But yes, music editors and engravers who work from manuscripts often have their work cut out for them!

      On a related topic here is a video from one of the world’s top music publishers, Henle Verlag, demonstrating metal-plate music engraving:

      I have a few of those original lead plates from Henle and they are works of art in and of themselves. The engraver featured in the video was filmed for a documentary called “Der Notenstecher von Würzburg”, as part of a series about artisans who are the last of their kind:



      • Sola says:

        Thank you for sharing this wonderful clip – it is sad to see another fine craft being lost. On another note it was very interesting to watch because I think I now have a better idea how they engraved calligraphy (copperplate)! The round dot at the end of a stroke must have been cut in the same manner as the head of a musical note. No wonder it’s cumbersome to reproduce them with pointed nibs 😦


  2. Gunther says:

    What a beautiful case, and on top of that shown in marvelous photos!


  3. memm says:

    I haven’t seen anything like this before. What a good idea!


  4. aliienesq says:

    It is a fine pencil case.

    I sometimes use carton tubes [from paper rolls for desktop calculating machines] and glue three of them together, thus creating a longer one-piece-tube in which I put a pencil when I wish to have it as a gift to someone. At the bottom I glue one round slice of soft yet resistant carton, and the opening at the top is served with a little cork cut to measure.

    I do prefer the wooden one you present on your post, though.


  5. Pingback: Scholar’s Favorite (2) | Contrapuntalism

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