Anyone who has searched eBay for vintage pencils knows how daunting it can sometimes be. You could spend a lifetime scrolling through page after page of “pencils” so you add qualifiers to your search, but your results only account for those who have spelled things correctly in the auction titles and descriptions. And searching by category only helps if the seller listed the items in sensible groups to begin with (e.g. “collectibles” vs. “home and garden”).
“Junk drawer” auctions can be interesting, but they require even more vigilance when it comes to examining the (often) distant and/or blurry pictures that are provided. Still though, one such auction yielded a 19th-century A.W. Faber Artists’ Pencil leadholder (among other things) for a few dollars, so it can be worth the effort. But this recent find makes me wonder how much must get overlooked on a daily basis:
As it was listed there wasn’t too much to get excited about: mainly colored pencils, but the box of Black Warriors might be nice (though they were grade 2.5). What grabbed my attention was the Eberhard Faber box in the background—it was the taller kind, the ones that were used for the Blackwing and Microtomic pencils to accommodate the clamp ferrules. But there was no mention of such in the description, and even more frustratingly there was no photo of the box flaps, which would have the brand name printed on it.
However, there was one photo of the Berol box where you could barely see the end of the Eberhard Faber box. The built-in magnification tool revealed the following:
Blackwing 602. Still, there was no guarantee—for all I knew there were more Colorbrite pencils stuffed in there just to make use of the box. But I decided to wing it and kept my fingers crossed.
The items arrived yesterday, on National Pencil Day no less, and inside the box were 13 unsharpened genuine Blackwing pencils—not to mention the Black Warriors and a few dozen colored pencils from Eberhard Faber. I was the only bidder; the total was less than $20:
Luck? Perhaps. Or maybe—just maybe—it’s the first documented National Pencil Day miracle.
(That, or I just spend too much time online looking for pencils and the law of large numbers finally kicked in.)