A special treat today – we are taking a look at “flat cedar” pencils. This is a historic pencil variety, no longer manufactured. They were made for waistcoat pockets, according to Henry Petroski’s The Pencil. And they are indeed very portable, even if you don’t have a waistcoat pocket.
I’ve had for some while an old Eberhard Faber pencil in this style. It is roughly in the shape of a miniature carpenter’s pencil, though with a round core. The pencil fits in a case with a cover that is removed and placed on the base to form an extender. I’m not sure of the material – tin or nickel would be my guesses – but it has survived well. “E. Faber, U.S.A.” is inscribed.
The pencil is already quite worn, and I was happy to find some refills – a partially filled box of “Johann Faber’s flat cedar refills with black leads. Made in Bavaria. No. 5837.”
Unfortunately – they don’t fit! The various branches of the Faber family are known to have feuded, and it may be that these are different formats by design. (The J. Faber is narrower than the E. Faber.)
As pencils, the Johann Faber pencil lead is a lighter, harder lead than the Eberhard Faber version.
I’ll have to keep my eye out for flat cedar pencil supplies.