Staedtler 175th anniversary pencil set

2010 is Staedtler’s 175th anniversary! Unless of course we date the company back to the first known Staedtler pencil maker in Nürnberg, in which case the company is much older. In 1937, Staedtler released a 275th Anniversary pencil, which would date them to 1662, but they now claim origins in 1835.

Whatever the details, congratulations! People around the world love Staedtler – the brand represents an image of good quality products offered at fair prices. Not necessarily the cheapest, but guaranteed to work well.

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For this anniversary, Staedtler is offering an item that also commemorates the start of the railway between Nürnberg and Fürth. It is a cardboard tube with twelve Mars Lumograph pencils and a special eraser.

There are also versions for the Noris and tradition lines.

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The city coats of arms are shown. Am I the only one surprised by the clover used by Fürth? The Wikipedia article relates some of the history.

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Alas, the only actual new stationery item is this eraser. While it is fine enough, I guess that I would have hoped for a bit more from a company such as Staedtler. It is a 175th anniversary, after all!

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The real celebration seems to have been on the cultural front, with a wonderful exhibition described here at Lexikaliker.

My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for sending me this fine set of pencils!

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Let’s take a brief trip into the almost departed world of drafting by pencil. Before computer aided design (CAD), precision drawings were made by hand. Architects, draftspeople, engineers, and others, used lead pencils alongside other tools to create plans for everything from small industrial parts to immense cities.

The observations made here are probably trivialities to those familiar with the tools. Yet as an “obsolete” technology, the capabilities of drafting film and film pencils may be unknown to those of us who never experienced these products first hand, and I thought it would be enjoyable to share some discoveries.

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

I’ve been fortunate to be able to assemble some vintage supplies.

– Staedtler Mars Dynagraph 100 50 woodcase pencils in grade N3.

– Staedtler Mars Dynagraph 0.5mm (255 05) and 0.7mm (255 07) mechanical pencil leads in grade N2.

– Mylar polyester drafting film.

The lead refills and drafting film were purchased at retail about two weeks ago! The pencils came from eBay.

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Some further notes.

The grades – N0 through N6. An old Staedtler catalogue online at leadholder.com suggests these comparisons:

N0 = HB
N2 = H
N4 = 5H

Adding information from this fascinating chart at Lowell Bueprint, we can complete the chart this way:

N0 = HB
N1 = F
N2 = H
N3 = 3H
N4 = 5H
N5 = 7H

Both the pencils and the leads have an additional logo, “profilm”. Though I own many Staedtler pencils, I have not seen this additional graphic before. This site, for example, suggests that this is an early 1980s Staedtler trademark, now abandoned.

The pencils are explicitly marked “For use on drafting film.”

The film is something I’ve been seeking for some while. I was quite happy to discover a local retailer who was willing to cut a small piece for me off of a roll. Mylar is Dupont’s trademarked name for polyester film. There are other brands, but Mylar seems to be a bit of a standard.

The photos below generally show the Mylar on top of graph paper – either 2mm vellum, or a Moleskine notebook. This is for contrast – it had to be placed on some sort of surface. The Mylar does not have any lines. It does have a milky translucence, and feels quite strong to the touch.

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Observation no. 1: The erasure of Dynagraph pencil lines on Mylar is remarkable. To my own eye in direct sunlight, it seemed close to perfection. The macro setting of the camera brings one back to earth, but still, I have to say that the erasure properties of the N3 Dynagraph pencil/Mylar film/Mars plastic eraser trio well surpass the paper and pencil experience. Even the typical paper indentation that one can usually discern is absent, presumably due to the film’s strength.

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Observation no. 2: The specialty lead is truly non-smearing! To the right is the misbehaving Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2H. Light finger movement causes considerable smudging. The Dynagraph leaves a nearly immutable line.

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Observation no. 3: Pencil grades, even the very hard grades that behave like rocks on paper, are much more vivid on film. A 3H looks like a 3B. Take the extreme Mitsubishi Hi-Uni 10H:

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

It is near useless, fainter than the printed lines, in a notebook:

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

Yet makes a valid mark on the drafting film:

Staedtler Mars Dynagraph pencils and leads

So film certainly gives an invigorated life to those 2H through 10H pencils which are very challenging to use on paper.

To summarize these basic observations about film pencils on film: Perfect erasure, no smearing, and lines appear significantly darker.

The computer isn’t going away, but I’m wondering if these properties might not be valuable to artists. And I haven’t yet noted that this “paper” is supposed to last centuries and maintain stability.

I can’t find a Mylar sketchbook for sale, but did find that David Hockney was aware of this medium. If you use this medium or are aware of other artists who use it, please leave a comment.

And while this post is engaged in a bit of a “rediscovery” of the past, let’s acknowledge those who’ve never forgotten these skills: twenty-first century architects who still work with pencil. These two have mentioned their continued use of pencils at this blog:

Otto-Walker Architects, Park City, Utah

J Mark Nelson LLC, Colorado Springs, Colorado

These products may have peaked in popularity in the 1980s, but the Dynagraph and Mylar duo still seem capable of getting a precision job done.

P.S. Please see “Zeitreise” at Lexikaliker, which shows some vintage advertisements for Duralar (the predecessor name of Dynagraph) pencils on Mylar.

Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3 red and blue pencil

Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3 red and blue pencil

The growth of online stores, auctions, and selling forums has resulted in many benefits for pencil end users, including the ability to discover unusual products. Here is an example.

How many people outside of Malaysia knew that Staedtler made a red and blue pencil?

Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3 red and blue pencil

The traditional red and blue format survives, yet I’ll bet very few people would know where to find one. I suspect that in most markets, not a single brick and mortar store carries such an item.

Certainly this particular pencil is a surprise – why is it so “beneath the radar”? From a major manufacturer, it would command a market simply due to the brand.

Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3 red and blue pencil

So there are a few things different – the tradition name, usually written with the lower case t, has graduated to using a majuscule T.

The markings are also a bit un-Staedtler – no bar code, just the text, “Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3”. 2/3? 2/3 of what? And the imprints don’t seem to be of top quality.

The red and blue markings do seem to be nicely merged with the traditional tradition branding.

And finally – why the tradition line? How does this variant relate to the 110 pencil?

Staedtler Tradition 118-2/3 red and blue pencil

The Malaysian made (according to the box) pencils are a nice oversize hexagonal shape, and function well. The line seems a bit dry while richly pigmented – nicely tuned for writing. I look forward to using them.

P.S. This is the 500th post at pencil talk.

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil – continued

Continuing from the previous post, we open up the tin. I would say there is a lot of evidence of pride in the product:

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

The paper flaps have all sorts of fascinating information about the MARS line. I like the list of the “most important” products:

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

The pencils, finished in black, perhaps have less show than we might expect, yet still look great:

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

 Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

Pencil packaging graphics were truly amazing some years ago. This post is more a look at some particular artwork rather an exploration of the pencils.

The seams of this box have largely disintegrated:

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

One side of the bottom has a label:

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

While the box itself has some nostalgic appeal, a gem is hidden on the inside lid:

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

Notice the “since 1662” phrase also. Staedtler now claims an 1835 origin.

The tins of pencils are themselves quite something:

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

I am glad to see the artist’s initials, “W.H.”

Staedtler 2957 colour copying pencil

Due to the relatively large size of these images, I’ll wait until the next post to show the inside of the box.

Staedtler Mars Duralar

From deep inside the pencil talk vaults, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph Duralar.

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

The box shows many signs of age. The half gross of 2830 pencils are in the K3 grade.

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

Despite many advancements in the ability to render images, modern graphics are less detailed than this 20th century beauty:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

The box has some printed material:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

No complaints necessary! We love these pencils.

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

Also an ad for a sharpener:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

Unfortunately an overhead tree took away some of the focus:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

The gold trim is very nice:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

Nice lettering:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

The insert is beautiful, and could probably be made into an excellent bookmark if printed on heavier paper:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil

The bottom piece of paper has tables of pencil grade recommendations:

Staedtler Mars Duralar 1830 pencil