Newell Brands cancel Mongol pencil trademark

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Mongol pencils

On October 15, 2021, the US Patent and Trademark Office published the news that Newell Brands had cancelled their trademark for one of the world’s most famous pencil brands, the Mongol.

Eberhard Faber IV was interviewed by Sean Malone, and Mr. Faber suggested that the name came from Purée Mongole soup. An update notes this story as being apocryphal.

(I’m really happy that Contrapuntalism remains online, though at a different address. It has a remarkable sixty posts that mention the Mongol pencil!)

I reached out to Newell, but did not hear back. They spoke to me last year about the Mirado, but I didn’t hear back about the Mongol.

So why the cancellation? I don’t know, but I’ll speculate that in 2021 Newell don’t want a trademark that can readily be interpreted as an ethnocultural or racial term.

There are still Mongol pencils in other countries – Colombia, the Philippines, and Venezuala.

Truly the end of an era, this pencil brand will not be quickly forgotten.

Mongol trademark

Mirado pencil discontinued after one century

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pencil talk has learned that the famed Mirado pencil has been discontinued.

From correspondence with Newell Brands Office Products:

[T]he manufacturing of our Mirado Classic Pencils are already discontinued and we do not have a direct replacement at this time.

The Mirado is a global classic. It and the predecessor Mikado have over a dozen mentions in the definitive pencil book, The Pencil by Henry Petroski.

The Mirado line has been the subject of several pencil talk posts:

Goodbye, Papermate Mirado Classic pencil (2009)

Mirado Black Warrior pencil (2008)

Last large American pencil factory to close in 2009 (2008)

Eagle Mirado pencil (2009)

Papermate Mirado Classic pencil (2010)

A blog reader, “B. Johnson”, sent some information about this several days ago, but I wanted to confirm the information with Newell / PaperMate before sharing.

The business logic is elusive. These pencils probably aren’t a revenue leader for Newell, but with such brand recognition, they must still sell. They have been regularly seen at big box stores for years.

[Update]

Please see these excellent posts at Orange Crate Art:

Farewell, Mirado

“Catch” of a Lifetime

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

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About eight months ago, Sharpie announced a new product, the “Liquid Pencil”. As soon as I learned of it, I was excited to see what it might offer.

Of course, I have heard of the former Parker Liquid Lead Pencil through Penhero’s excellent article, and noted the similarity of the marketing, though fifty-five years apart:

1955: “A lead that never breaks!”
2010: “Eliminates broken pencil leads”

1955: “Rolls words on paper smooth as silk!”
2010: “Writes as smooth as a pen”

Parker and Sharpie are now both brands of conglomerate Newell Rubbermaid, so it is entirely possible that the techniques of the original process are part of this revival.

The product launch had a lot of interesting elements, as well as some controversy.

First, it garnered considerable media attention. A few samples:

TIME: Sharpie’s Liquid Pencil Becomes Permanent After Three Days

Engadget: Sharpie Liquid Pencil, the aftermath: it’s ‘permanent,’ not permanent

Wired: Sharpie Reinvents Pen with Liquid Pencil

Now if you look at those articles, you’ll see the controversy. The original “Becomes permanent like a Sharpie marker after three days” statement was withdrawn by Sharpie. See the timeline of reactions in these three Engadget articles.

On stationery blogs, I saw reviews at Office Supply Geek and The Pen Addict. The product didn’t seem to be winning over either of these reviewers. Yet, I still wanted to see what this pencil might offer. I told myself that I’d wait until it turned up locally. That day just arrived.

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

The package contains two pencils and six minuscule eraser replacements.

The package claims (front):

No more breaking leads!

And on the back:

Smooth like a pen, erases like a pencil

Sharpie’s Liquid Graphite Technology eliminates broken leads

No. 2 lead equivalent

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

I won’t say much about the form factor or appearance. The product looks like a cheap ballpoint pen, and has some sharp ridges where the cap meets the body. The cap clicks to extend or retract the pencil point.

To my eye, the mark made doesn’t at all look like any graphite or pencil deposit I have ever seen. It has none of the luminescence or texture of graphite – ceramic, polymer, or water soluble. It simply looks like a ballpoint pen mark.

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Writing with it, the problem is that the pencil barely functions by conventional standards. It just doesn’t leave a consistent line. The mark starts to dry up after a word or two (and that word or two isn’t rendered very well). It cannot render the dot in an “i”. Any woodcase pencil can do a better job.

Sharpie Liquid Pencil

It does erase well, but that seems moot given the overall problem. It is hard to understand how this product was released to market.

Mongol pencils from Eberhard Faber Colombia

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Happy New Year to all readers!

Mongol pencils from Eberhard Faber Colombia

In the lazy days between Christmas and New Year, a very interesting package arrived, thanks to frequent pencil talk commenter futural.

Mongol pencils from Eberhard Faber Colombia

The former Eberhard Faber company had a complicated global footprint. We see that in the patchwork ownership of the name today. We also know the Mongol remains a popular pencil brand in the Phillipines.

Mongol pencils from Eberhard Faber Colombia

Some news – the Eberhard Faber Mongol 482 pencil also lives on in Colombia! Produced by “Eberhard Faber de Colombia” (no references to Sanford or Newell-Rubbermaid on the packaging), futural tells me that the bar code reveals a Peruvian origin. How interesting – Woodchuck from CalCedar has said the Mongol has been made in Venezuela, and more recently by Marco in China.

Mongol pencils from Eberhard Faber Colombia

Whatever the details, the Colombian Mongol definitely appears to be different than the modern Philippine Mongols.

The finish consists of a basic thin lacquer. The leads also seem somewhat smoother than the Amspec version. The eraser even works fairly well. All in all, a very acceptable pencil.

These aren’t the only Colombian pencils that arrived! Stay tuned for more.

See also:

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils (pencil talk: August, 2008)

The Mongol 482: New and Old (pencil talk: February, 2007)

Berol Handwriting pencil

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Berol Handwriting pencil

The Berol Handwriting pencil come to us from Sanford UK, a division of Newell Rubbermaid. The Berol name remains active in the UK and other countries. The Berol history at that link is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in pencil and fountain pen corporate history.

Please see Handschriftbleistift (a great name) at Lexikaliker to see another UK “Handwriting pencil”.

The name is intriguing – why so specific? Differentiation from drawing pencils is all I can guess.

Berol Handwriting pencil

The official product page indicates an official price of £0.80 for 12 pencils – well into discount territory.

The choice of pencil finish is very interesting – alternating red and white sides, with a red cap. The white sides in particular seem thinly painted, and rather prone to revealing flaws or any stray graphite dust.

No place of manufacture is mentioned.

Alas, the pencil has a very hard and scratchy lead. While the statement made on the box, “Hard Wearing,” is no doubt true, the Handwriting pencil seems a poor choice for handwriting. Whether child or adult, I can’t really see any extended use of this pencil being very pleasant.

Berol Handwriting pencil

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

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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:

Philippines stamp of Mongol pencil

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!

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

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 and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

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.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino Mongol pencils

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!