Saturday, October 6, 2012

Count von Faber-Castell on pencils

Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell is one of my three favorite counts. He recently spoke with the Wall Street Journal about pencils:

Q. Will the pencil go the way of the quill pen?

A. May I ask you a question? Have you ever seen a paperless office? People may not be writing things out on legal pads but they like to print out e-mail and make notations. Then pencils and pens disappear and you go grab another.
Yes, there are executive types who have their e-mail printed out for them, but e-mail annotation seems like a dubious basis for resisting extinction. And Faber-Castell pencils are hardly the semi-disposable supply-room products that disappear from desks in a workplace. I wish that the Count had spoken of the pencil as a tool for writing. People are indeed writing things out on legal pads, on music paper, and in notebooks. Why not proclaim the tactile joys of writing on paper?


6:54 p.m.: Here’s the Count talking about pencils with, of all people, Martha Stewart. Thanks, Sean.

Related reading
All pencil posts (Pinboard)

[My other favorite counts: Basie and von Count.]

comments: 4

Sean said...

I was surprised to read in the interview that blacklead pencils account for only 20% of sales. Given that percentage, it's understandable then that writers and musicians usually go unmentioned, but I think it's also that the writing pencil in general has pretty much disappeared. If you look at the few high-quality pencil brands that are still around (Faber-Castell, Staedtler, Mitsu-bishi, etc.), all of their premium pencils are drawing pencils. It seems that the last of the great writing pencils (Mongol, Blackwing, Black Velvet, etc.) went extinct with Eberhard Faber in 1998.

When you compare what's available today to what was available about 15 years ago, it really feels as if an era has ended. And while I don't think the wood-cased pencil will ever be in danger of disappearing, it's difficult to imagine it could ever bounce back to pre-2000 levels of variety.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes — in the 1990s, Black Velvets, Blackwings, and Mongols were all available from office-supply catalogues, even if they weren’t on the shelf in the store. But Faber-Castell does have the Grip (“for tireless writing and drawing,” the website says) and the Perfect Pencil. It seems to me that the Count could have made a more spirited case for writing by hand.

Berit said...

What a great news item; thanks for sharing it.

I'd no idea there was a Count von Faber-Castell!

Somehow, I've been putting aside the realization that I've not seen my favorite pencil in recent years. It is the "design" from Bruynzeel, and can be seen here:

I favor the "F" in particular. As for how it differs from HB--perhaps only in my mind.

Do you have any info on it? Because you are such a Writing Implement Guru, I have been both wanting to ask you and fearing dismal news in return for some time.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve used a few Bruynzeels, which I bought years (and years) ago, maybe at Pearl Paint. I wish I knew something about them. Here’s a 2009 Pencil Talk post about Bruynzeels. It sounds as though these pencils are very difficult to come by.