L'incredibile mondo di Faber-Castell - Intervista a Travel Germany

The incredible world of Faber-Castell – Travel Germany Interview

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On any piece of paper I draw a yellow sun…” Who doesn’t remember that remarkable TV commercial from the 90s? Toquinho's voice taking us with the moving drawings through a journey of colors and fantasy, which would make any child – and adults too – long for Faber-Castell pencil boxes.

And it is here, in Germany, in the city of Stein, close to Nuremberg, that the entire history of the most famous pencils in the world began, back in the 18th century, with the artisan Kaspar Faber. At the invitation of Faber-Castell Germany, we visited the Faber-Castell museum and palace, and former pencil production. We were very well received and had an exclusive guided tour, in which we learned a lot about the history of Faber-Castell and the family that created the company and continues to run it today.

Our visit to the Faber-Castell museums in Germany. In the background, the old pencil factory, where the company started.

1 – Since when has the company existed?

The beginnings of Faber-Castell date back to 1761 with Kaspar Faber, a craftsman from Langenzenn, who produced handmade pencils in the neighboring town of Stein, close to Nuremberg. Kaspar was the one who started it all, he was the first generation. The name Faber-Castell as we know it today came after the marriage of Ottilie von Faber (sixth generation of the family) with Count Alexander zu Castell-Rüdenhausen, a member of the aristocracy. Until then, the company was known only as AW Faber, according to Anton Wilhelm Faber, Kaspar's son.

The Faber-Castell Palace

2 – Why the name Faber-Castell? Does the Castell family still hold titles of nobility?

The Faber family, you could say, made their name and fortune on hard work. They achieved success and prestige in this business, but they were neither members nor descendants of a noble family. Due to his services to the world of business and social affairs, Baron Lothar von Faber became a life peer and elevated to the hereditary nobility in 1881.

The staircase at the entrance to the Faber-Castell palace. Today, the palace is a museum dedicated to the company's history.

In 1898, Ottilie, the granddaughter of Baron Lothar von Faber (fourth generation), married Alexander, a member of the Castell-Rüdenhausen family of aristocrats. Before his death in 1896, Lothar, a man already very successful in his business, had stipulated that his descendants should carry on the company name and also the Faber family name. This is how the names Faber and Castell were united.

Alexander and Ottilie – the palace that we now know as the Faber-Castell castle was used as the couple's residence at the beginning of the 20th century

3 – How did the company become a global reference for pencils and stationery items?

Much is due to Baron Lothar von Faber who, in the mid-19th century, made it his personal mission to elevate the company and its products to “the highest position, making the best that can be produced in the world”. He had a keen eye for business and marketing, which wasn't even called that back then. Some things that can be attributed to Lothar were, for example, the creation of beautiful pencil cases to attract consumers. At the time, foreign pencils were the biggest competitors of Faber products. Therefore, he had in mind that he should focus on the quality of the product, on the consumer's perception when seeing an AW Faber pencil box for the first time.

The concern with the quality of products and presentation – delighting the consumer: a concept that is so much talked about in marketing today, was already carried out by Lothar von Faber in the 19th century

He propelled AW Faber to a global level, in production, distribution and reputation. He was also the first businessman in the world who was concerned about trademark (Trademark protection) and wrote a letter to the German parliament in Berlin to obtain it. The AW Faber name is the oldest active registered trademark in the United States. Baron Lothar von Faber knew how important it was for the company to achieve this international position, maintaining product quality and also keeping the business within the family, bringing his brothers into the company's affairs and working to ensure a future for the companies. next generations.

Faber-Castell packaging at the end of the 19th century featured illustrations from different cultures and regions of the world. Thus, its consumers discovered places they could not travel to, in a primitive form of Instagram, as very well analyzed by our guide.

Instagram Follower Questions

4 – Does Faber-Castell use wood from Brazilian forests? Are there reforestation areas in Brazil?

Yes. In Prata, Minas Gerais. Faber-Castell also uses 82% renewable energy, such as hydraulic turbines in production in Stein, Germany. The company has also been very concerned about reforestation and biodiversity in areas where wood is used for its pencils.

5 – Is there a museum in Germany where we can learn about the company’s history and with activities for children?

Clear! In Stein, near Nuremberg, you can visit the Faber-Castell castle, which was the family residence at the beginning of the 20th century. Production is also nearby, in the same place where Kaspar Faber started, in the 18th century. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the castle, in the museum “Other Mines” (old mines) and production, and learn more about the history of the company, how pencils are made, etc.

In addition to the Faber-Castell palace, it is also possible to visit the old factory museum, on the other side of the avenue.
Learning how a pencil was made by hand. Have you ever held an entire graphite mine like this? At the Faber-Castell museum, you can have this experience.

6 – Where is Faber-Castell’s production located?

In many countries. Germany, Brazil, Peru, Indonesia, Austria, United States, Malaysia, Colombia, China and India.

7 – How was the pencil invented?

The use of a lead rod as a writing instrument dates back to Ancient Egypt. However, the pencil as we know it today, with the lead inside the wooden structure, must be something from more recent times. In the exhibition at the Faber-Castell museum is the oldest remaining pencil (photo below), from the 17th century, found inside a building in Germany.

The next questions were submitted by children in Brazil, ages 7 to 11.

Question from Valentina, 11 years old

8 – How does the company imagine the use of pencils, pens and school products in the future?

Well, now there is Repaper, the graphic paper tablet from Faber-Castell, which is a tablet on which you can write or draw, maintaining the feeling of handwriting, hand drawing, but with the possibility of transferring the content digitally, whether to your smartphone or computer.

The store outside the Faber-Castell museum – above, the Repaper, the tablet that gives the sensation of writing on paper

Question from Helena, 9 years old

9 – How are pencils produced? How is wood made into pencils?

Well, it's a long process, almost 100% done by hand. It's important to make sure that the leads won't break inside the wooden pencil body, that the colors are precisely mixed to maintain a pattern, and so on. Do you know the non-slip dots on the Grip 2001 HB pencil? So, this is one of the many details that must be taken care of during production. In this video, the process is very well illustrated.

Question from Luisa, 6

11 – How are colored pencils made?

It depends on the mine. Whether graphite mine or colored mines, in the manufacture of colored mines, high quality pigments, derivative cellulose (a type of wallpaper paste) and kaolinite (a clay mineral also used in the manufacture of porcelain) are used. are mixed together.

The steps of cutting the wood until it becomes the body of the pencil. The guided tour is excellent, very well explained and illustrated.

The mass is placed under low pressure through a nozzle to form the trenches for the mines. Colored leads are not burned as the color pigments would be destroyed during burning, colored leads are softer and more sensitive than graphite leads. To make them more stable, the diameter of the colored lead is larger than that of the graphite lead.

Even those who don't know how to draw will want to have a box like this. 🙂
A delight for those who like pens and stationery items.

PS Our visit took place in July 2020. We would like to thank the Faber-Castell Germany marketing team for the kind welcome and guided tours. The photographs of the museums were authorized and are for exclusive use for our interview.