Stephen Sondheim Blackwings sold at auction

Credit: Reddit.

Two full boxes and a partial box of Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencils owned by Stephen Sondheim sold at auction yesterday. The price for the 32 pencils? A cool $US6400.00.

The photos reveal a reverse printed (“left handed”) Blackwing. And the old boxes remind us that the original slogan was “write with half the pressure, twice the speed”. To me, “half the pressure, twice the speed” emphasizes the pencil, but “write with half the pressure, twice the speed” emphasizes what one can do with the pencil.

Happy 100th anniversary, Blackwing clamp!

Blackwing clamp
First paragraph of US patent 1373062.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of a very important part of the famed Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencil: the patent for the pencil’s distinctive ferrule and eraser, originally called a clamp. (The name changed over time.)

Blackwing clamp

The clamp patent was awarded to Lothar W. Faber on this day one century ago. The mechanism was shared with the Van Dyke and Microtomic pencils, mechanical pencils, and stand alone erasers. The Blackwing itself was launched a decade later. The clamp did have predecessors, but the 1921 patent was the most successful and widely known model.

The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company clearly took pride in the invention, noting the patent date on the box of Item 1281, their four eraser plus one clamp refill kit:
Blackwing clamp

Also on some versions of the clamp itself:
Blackwing clamp
(c) Swann Galleries

For more on the clamp, please see “Clasp to Clamp” at Contrapuntalism and Patent 1373062 at Google Patents.