Little Bits of History

October 3

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 3, 2017

1835: JS Staedtler starts up his eponymous company. Begun within the old city walls of Nuremberg, Germany, the family had been making pencils even before the company startup date. The first mention of the Staedtler name was listed in 1662 and even then, they were pencil-making craftsmen. On this day, Staedtler got permission from the municipal council to produce blacklead, red chalk, and pastel pencils in his industrial plant. By 1866, they employed 54 people who produced 15,000 gross or 2,160,000 pencils per year. The privately owned company has worldwide distribution of a large variety of writing utensils as well as other stationery items.

Between 1900 and 1901 they launched their Mars and Noris brands, the latter being very popular in British schools. In 1922, a subsidiary was established in New York and in 1926 one was established in Japan. In 1937, they changed their name to Mars Pencil and Fountain Pen Factory and expanded their product line to include mechanical writing instruments. In 1949, Staedtler began to produce ballpoint pens as fountain pens were going out of style, however they continue to produce high end fountain pens even today. In 1950 they introduced mechanical pencils and theirs were made with a casing of wood.

They have changed logos for their company eight times since 1908. Today’s logo along with a name in all caps: STAEDTLER, has been used since 2001. Their official name is Staedtler Mars GmbH & Cl. KG and they produce not just pens and pencils of an astounding variety but are also in charge of the FIMO brand of modeling clay. They have won a variety of awards for their innovative and ground breaking work in pencil design. Axel Marx leads the company that now has six production plants, three of them in Nuremberg. They have 23 sales subsidiaries and have business partners in 150 countries. They are the largest European manufacturers of wood cased pencils, OHP pens, mechanical pencil lead, erasers, and modeling clay.

Although our modern idea of a pencil stems directly from an artist’s brush, something used to scratch symbols onto papyrus or wax tablets has been in used since Roman times. The meaning of a graphite writing implement came into use in the late 1500s after a large deposit of graphite was discovered in northern England. They held a monopoly on graphite and so the making of pencils until a method of reconstituting graphite powder was found. Wood holders for the graphite stick soon followed and erasers were attached in 1858. Colored pencils are made of wax or oil based cores tinted to various shades with some being water soluble. Pencils can today be made of graphite/clay mixture, charcoal, or carbon. The core can be encased in a variety of ways, as well. There are even pencils made from recycled newspapers on the market.

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. – Joyce Meyer

It’s not how big your pencil is; it’s how you write your name. – Dave Mustaine

Ideas are elusive, slippery things. Best to keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, so you can stab them during the night before they get away. – Earl Nightingale

The computer dictates how you do something, whereas with a pencil you’re totally free. – James Dyson




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