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Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

The predecessor of Staedtler’s iconic Mars Lumograph 100 is the Mars Lumograph 2886. According to, this particular box may date from the late 1950s.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

The lid has some compelling graphics:

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Half a century old, only the design indicates the age of these pencils:

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

The “A” in “STAEDTLER” appears to be formed like a compass. As well, reflecting the manufacturing processes of the era, there are slight surface differences between specimens.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

An element I love is the HB grade mark in vibrant gold colour. It is serious but not fanciful, like the painted gold markings that were once typically applied to wood surfaces such as office doors and library card catalogues.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

The factory sharpening, just like the modern version, is the best in the industry, with no “scrape marks” along the wood.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Take a close look. Even the smallest graphical details are impressive.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Overall, a classic pencil.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Are “MARS” and “LUMOGRAPH” rendered the same way?

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

For me, the caps are a continuing delight:

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

A comparison with the modern version. In case you didn’t notice, this photo should make clear that the 2886 is a “left-handed” imprint, in contrast with the standard “right-handed” 100.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Does anyone prefer the modern look?

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

A small delight after all these years is to find a paper insert.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

Slightly withered, it presents pencil grade recommendations for eleven different professions.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

I have tried and tested the 2886, and find it to be extremely similar to the modern 100 in graphite function and erasure. Given the half century between the manufacture of the two pencils, this demonstration of Staedtler’s ongoing commitment to their product excellence is remarkable.

18 comments to Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2886 pencil

  • Great article and fantastic photos.
    They are so beautiful!!!
    I am actually quite surprised that they would have used a clear plastic box in the 1950s, I think most of us would associate this time with metal tins (which are nicer, in my opinion).
    Did you get these from an auction site?

  • Indeed, it is very impressive to find a 50 years old product intact in a box, and perfectly usable. And what a beautiful pencil. Fantastic. Excellent photos.

  • Thanks for this post. I have a dozen of these as well, though they are 2B. (Matthias, you have a few too!) I noticed that they are a bit softer than the modern 2B, but I agree, the imprint is really nice.

  • Great post. Quite remarkable workmanship and impeccably designed packaging. Pity such standards are currently held by only a few manufacturers in Japan.

  • Sean, I just looked at them two or three days ago :) . I never had the heart to use them, neither did I dare to use the old Castell 9000 Bs …but any day now!

    Alberto, your comment could be interpreted as if you think the workmanship of the modern Mars Lumographs is inferior to the workmanship of the old ones?

  • Eric

    A true beauty. They look like they just came off the assembly line. I wish more things would hold up so well after 50 year

  • Adair

    The typography on the contemporary Staedtler’s is no-where near as nice, and the barcodes ruin the design further. These vintage versions look so beautiful!

  • Futural

    “Excellence Commitmment” that says all, and fortunately continue today. What a difference on the “graphical details are impressive”-50 years ago- if you compared it, with a new and recent release of a well-intentioned and first effort of a Pencil waited by many, but even today, technology has a poor effort trying to duplicate this “graphical details”…
    The paper insert ¡wow! again thnks for those detailed pictures.

  • Pisces6

    I prefer the look of the older pencil rather than the newer one. The font on the newer Staedtler looks disappointingly cheap. I remember buying a tin of the new Staedtler and was somewhat disappointed at the new font. I can ignore the bar codes, but the font on the pencil? :/

    As for lead quality, I won’t be able to make a comparison. I have two old Staedtlers in H grade, but I have not seen a modern version of the H grade yet. I’m starting to think that they don’t make it anymore, at least in wooden pencils. I have found H and 2H grades as 2mm leads for leadholders.

  • Saumiq

    Prefer the left-hand type because……well, because I’m left-handed. I often fill my notebooks from back to front too.

  • memm, while I am actually pretty happy with the performance of my modern sketching tin set of 12 Mars Lumograph pencils, and I really would have no frame of reference to determine any differences in graphite performance from previous versions. I do like the gold lettering of the 2886 pencils better than the silver font currently in use. The workmanship and level of attention applied to the design of the packaging, paper inserts, and graphics on vintage pencils certainly tend to be more pleasing than that of average modern pencils unimaginatively packaged in blister cards or cheap cardboard boxes.

  • Michael

    The Lumograph is still available from 6H to 8B.
    The odd thing about packaging and finish is that the main European manufacturers seem to have opted for environmentally friendly lacquers that do not perform as well as the older finishes but then stick them in wasteful plastic blister packs.
    On a pack of a dozen it’s not so bad but even twos and threes come in plastic. It’s like the super markets that shrink wrap coconuts.
    But back on topic, I have some 30 year old Lumograph stubs and some brand new pencils. Over the range of grades I tend to use I can’t say there’s any difference in performance beyween the old and the new.
    I don’t have anything quite this old though.

  • David O.

    I also posted this in “Comments and Questions”. Very interesting article on the German pencil “battle”:

  • What a great article. Thanks for the link!

  • Tyler

    Can you post a more detailed photo of the “pencils by profession” I would be interested to see what recommendations they make. in addition, do you know of any pencils that would be great for an engineering student? I have been using a Dixon Ticonderoga for as long as I can remember and the one annoying thing is that they seem to dull very quickly making precise writing rather difficult without constant sharpening.

  • I got a few of these in harder grades recently, and I have to say I’m impressed. The finish is much nicer than it is on the modern (silver print) Lumograph. The lead seems to be identical, though, so I’m glad the important part of the pencil hasn’t suffered from cost-cutting/environmental concerns.

  • sam thompson

    Hi there everyone
    I’m drawing with steadler mars lumograph and derwent graphic pencils but I always seem to get scratchy bits of lead that ruin my drawings. What pencils do you all use and have you got any tips for me?

  • My feeling would be that the smoothest graphite leads can be found in Japanese premium pencil lines like Mitsubihi Hi-Uni and Tombow Mono 100. Having a good pencil sharpener might help in getting past the scratchy bits, for I have noticed that some of my Derwents might feel a tad scratchy at the beginning but perform fine after their initial sharpening.

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