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Staedtler’s oldest brands – the Atlas and Minerva pencils

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

Staedtler is one of the world’s foremost pencil manufacturers. While many companies struggle to maintain a single mainstream pencil line, Staedtler has four global brands – Mars Lumograph, Tradition, Noris, and Minerva. They of course also have a number of specialty and local lines.

Note: The photos were taken on green Clairefontaine graph paper, and received no editing other than cropping. We won’t do it again.

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

A previously mentioned interview with a Staedtler executive reveals that though the Mars line, dating from 1900, may be preeminent, the Atlas and Minerva brands are even older (though just by four years), originating in 1896. Amazingly, both brands survive 113 years later!

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

The pencils have similarities. Both are uncapped and have red (though not the same shade) finishes. The shape is a major differentiator. The Minerva is hexagonal, which the Atlas is a relatively unusual round pencil.

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

The Atlas has gold lettering, while the Minerva uses white.

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

The Atlas is made in Malaysia, with the lead core produced in Germany. The Minerva has no statement of origin.

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

The Minerva has an unusual aspect for a budget line – availability in three grades.

Staedtler's oldest brands - the Atlas and Minerva pencils

Both are budget pencils and write a bit on the scratchy side. I like the Atlas a bit more due to the richer red finish, absence of bar code, and round shape (unusual for a branded pencil).

Thanks to Gunther at Lexikaliker for arranging the purchase of the Minerva pencils.

8 comments to Staedtler’s oldest brands – the Atlas and Minerva pencils

  • Interesting. I do not believe we have either of these pencils “Down Under”, but the Staedtler Pacific would appear to fill the gap left by the absence of the Minerva. Would you care to comment on the similarities or otherwise of the Minerva and the Pacific?

  • Kiwi-d, the Pacific is an interesting complement to the Atlas and Minerva. I’ve been using all three – and apart from the round shape of the Atlas – there seem to be few differentiators. I can’t decide which has the best lead – probably the Pacific or Minerva.

  • Your photographs are always so gorgeous.

  • Thanks Strikethru, I wish it was true.

    Even if you can’t read any German, everyone should check out Lexikaliker for some amazing pencil photos.

  • Joan

    It amazing how some pencils are unknown and strange for people living in a part of the planet and so common for the rest.
    For me a Dixon Ticonderoga or a General Pencil Co. pencil is stranger than a pink Alien and the Minerva is the pencil everybody used to use when I was a school boy, here in Catalonia.

  • Michael

    Joan, you’re right.
    Before they became Berol and then Sanford, Venus was the quality pencil I knew. Staedtler and Faber-Castell might as well have been cities for all I knew.
    Until I got interested in pencils for their own sake (and this site is to blame) ‘d never heard of Dixon or Palomino, let alone Blackwing.

  • I got some of the Atlas pencils a while back on eBay. I liked the fact they were round, and the lead wasn’t bad, but they had terrible quality issues — the paint was extremely uneven in its application (thick at some parts, barely there on others), and the cores were seriously misaligned on more than half of the dozen I got. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend them at all; they’re far too hit-and-miss.

  • Kevin

    The box of ’2B’ Minervas, Made in Thailand are superb pencils. For $4 a dozen they write/draw wonderfully well, are nicely finished and sharpen easily….and I adore the orange red case with very clear white lettering. I don’t say this lightly but they have a similar writing feel to a Palomino ‘HB’. They seem to be a class above other pencils in this price range, at least here in Australia. You can tell they are a member of a very distinguished pencil making company. The only thing I don’t like is the squared off end. When sharpening the pencil the end dis in to the palm of your hand which is quite a painful experience, big wuss that I am.

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