Out of thousands of pencil brands, are there any with a more devoted national following than the Mongol brand has in the Philippines?
A 1999 stamp issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation commemorated the Mongol’s 50th anniversary in the country:
Wikipilipinas claims that the Mongol name is now synonymous for “pencil” in the Phillipines!
And a search for “Mongol pencil” via Google reveals that the brand is still very active in that country. In fact, it is more than active – how many countries have national literacy campaigns with celebrity endorsements, issuing woodcase pencils as their symbol?
Please see Celebs join Mongol pencil advocacy for details.
The Mongol name comes from the former Eberhard Faber pencil company in the US. I don’t know what year was the last for the Mongol in the US. In 2005, Woodchuck mentioned the continued existence of the Mongol name in Venezuela.
It turns out the pencils were also being made under license by Ampsec in the Philippines.
An online store in the US started selling the Amspec version. In 2007, pencil talk compared them with the original Mongol.
The only full online review of the Amspec version is at the now defunct Blyantsiden blog.
While I can’t read Norwegian, I do understand “2/6”, and don’t disagree.
So at some point Amspec stopped making the Mongol, though the brand didn’t disappear – it is now distributed by Star Paper. Noticeably absent is the statement that the pencil is made in the Philippines. On the other hand, Newell-Rubbermaid’s name achieves new prominence.
A comment at Timberlines suggests the pencil may in fact be imported from Venezuela!
So keeping in mind the special role that the Mongol pencil has in Philippine culture, we have a truly unique offering – a limited edition Mongol from the “iamninoy-iamcory” campaign, which is sponsored by the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation.
Ninoy was a prominent opposition leader, assassinated in 1983. His spouse Corazon (Cory) eventually ousted the Marcos regime, restoring democracy. National heroes, this pencil is endorsed by their daughter Kris Aquino. The pencil is truly rich in political and national themes.
The association of a pencil brand with charitable, educational, and political causes at this level appears unprecedented. The Mongol pencil seems to truly be loved in the Philippines!
15 Replies to “Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils”
Here is some clarification on Mongol brand rights in the Philippines. Mongol was originally licensed to AMSPEC by Eberhardt Faber U.S. for many years in the Philippine market. Eberhardt Faber U.S. was first acquired by Faber-Castell USA. Faber-Castell USA later was sold to Newell (Sanford) with all the brands but the Faber-Castell name going over to Newell. Mongol was also licensed to Eberhardt Faber de Venezuela for that market, which was sold separately to Newell. For many years Newell continued this license to AMSPEC, but ended this license agreement in the past 2 or 3 years after the principal owner and CEO of AMSPEC passed away.
AMSPEC now markets it’s Mongol quality pencil w/ blue band on the ferrule under the trademark T-Pencil. My understanding was that one of Newell’s international sales organizations now sells the Mongol in the Philippine market, using pencils produced in thier Venezuela operations, but they also may outsource these to another producer??? You indicate Star Paper is distributor of this product, but I am not sure if they now have the Mongol license are just one of several resellers in this market.
Also it is my understanding that there are alot of counterfeit Mongols produced in China that are sold into the Philippine market. AMSPEC was always fighting this challenge in court to defend it’s license. Whether Newell will be as diligent as AMSPEC was is not certain. Thus there is a risk that Mongol pencils purchased in Philippines will not always reflect the consistent quality produced by AMSPEC under the license.
I would give these AMSPEC Mongols a better grade than 2/6–maybe a 4/6 compared to the original Mongols. I quite liked them as daily users when Pencilthings carried them. I hope the new versions will become available in the US somehow. And who knows? Maybe someday Cal Cedar can revive the line, the same way they will the Blackwing this fall.
The stamp: as a teacher that grip makes my heart ache! Poor child – it looks like it must really hurt.
I don’t know how important this is, but I couldn’t help it. Sorry.
Ps. Blyantsiden.blog: I read Norwegian and your impression is right. The pencils are the worst he has ever tried, the eraser cannot erase anything etc. But they look nice – true to the original.
WoodChuck, thank you for the detailed reply. This article in the Philippine Star and Star Paper themselves both assert that Star Paper is the sole distributor.
Adair, there are many expired pencil trademarks waiting to be purchased! (The news of the new Blackwing was first mentioned here.) I’ve tried to like the Amspec Mongol, but have to side with Blyantsiden’s assessment.
Henrik, indeed that stamp does not exactly show the recommended grip. Intentional? And thank you for the summary of that Norwegian language review.
I suspect that if “Mongol” pencils were to be imported into the US, righteous ones would soon be screaming that the name is racist.
BTW typo alert: “The Mongol name comes the former…” should be “FROM the former…”, yes?>
Well, there’s “Black Warrior,” and “Mirado” is just a way of purging Japanese culture from the American market during WWII: the original name was “Mikado.”
perturbed, the easier point first – thank you – I truly appreciate the correction. Self-editing can be a flawed process. I’ve thought of offering free erasers or something like that for folks who kindly offer grammar and spelling corrections.
And, I agree, the “Mongol” name would surely be considered “cultural appropriation” or otherwise inappropriate today (not just in the US) from many levels. I tend to agree with those assessments.
Just chiming in with a classroom memory: Yep, these were so popular, almost prescribed. Teachers would tell us to “Bring a Mongol #2 pencil” for the exams. (which meant, I suppose, any #2 pencil, but most students did bring the Mongol ones.) Personally, I hate the eraser, it’s so crumbly. I haven’t tried these particular ones though. I appreciate the historical/cultural tribute, but wouldn’t buy them myself. Kinda tacky. :P (hides from fans)
Thanks for sharing the reminiscence, pimli.
How nice to see that my pencil blog is still refered to. :) Maybe I should start writing again…
Anyhow… I think these pencils are quite horrible. I have to take care not to rasp a hole int he paper when writing with these pencils. Even the B grade is hard and not very suited for general writing. Never tried 2B though (if they exist). I’m just on my way to move to a new appartment, and I was considering throwing the Mongols in the garbage (full packs, as I have never used a pencil since the test back in 2008). My girlfriend said I could keep them as a “rarity” in my collection of primarily japanese pencils, so I didn’t.
Nice to see your blog live and well, keep up the good work!
Hi Kim, it is good to hear from you! Thank you for the well wishes.
It would be great if you started writing again, even occasionally.
New update on this topic with information I just came by today. It’s my understanding that the Mongol pencils sold in the Philippenes today are no longer being manuafctured in Newell Sanfords own factory in Venezuela. They are now being produced on OEM basis by Shanghai Marco in China. I do not know if that applies to this specific limited edition item you have reviewed here or not.
I tried these pencils some time ago, and they are clearly inferior to the old U.S. made product (of which I have a few boxes left). They’re not close at all, except maybe in looks.
Yes, I’ve also bought a DSLR camera since my last review, so if I start reviewing again, the photos will be much sharper. :)
I have a good deal of Staedtler Mars Ergosofts that I will review. If not sooner, I will do it in mye christmas holidays.