Faber-Castell Columbus

Faber-Castell Columbus

Faber-Castell Columbus

Today: Faber-Castell’s Columbus pencil, which you might remember from Contrapuntalism’s blog post about the Columbus’ catalogue number.

Last October [1]A fitting month to buy a Columbus pencil. I bought a dozen Columbus in HB for £6.98 including postage from eBay (~$10.10; €9). I like pencils with a theme, and with the Columbus theme and the little ship printed on the pen this pencil doesn’t disappoint [2]…but using the article bumber 1492 instead of 2103 would make it even better.

Faber-Castell Columbus


The Columbus did have many different article numbers since it was first released. It’s current number is 2103 (the six digit number is 113100) and even though it survived it is only officially available in Ireland where it is actually distributed by Tom Martin and Company Limited, the Irish agents for Faber-Castell, not by Faber-Castell directly.

Faber-Castell Columbus

Faber-Castell in Ireland

(Image © Irish Examiner)
(Image © Irish Examiner)

In 1954 Roland Graf von Faber-Castell [3]The father of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell ..and nine other children. set up a factory in Fermoy in Ireland [4]see p.42, Faber-Castell anniversary magazine 1761-2011; p. 110 Das Bleistiftschloss. In the 1960s the factory was expanded further. This factory is where the Faber-Castell Columbus was being made until the factory closed down in 1990. Similar pencils where made there, too, like the (pre-)Bonanza seen at Contrapuntalism. It looks as if Ireland got so used to the Columbus pencil and as if there was still a demand for this pencil, so after the factory in Fermoy closed down Faber-Castell started making the pencil elsewhere. Tom Martin is now distributing it to satisfy national demand.

Faber-Castell Columbus

In its life the Columbus has been made in many different places: the USA, Ireland, Franconia (Bavaria). I am not sure where the current Columbus is made, the box and the pencil don’t have a “Made in” imprint, but if I was a betting man I would say they’re from Indonesia, where the Bonanza and the Goldfaber are being made.

Faber-Castell Columbus


The packaging features an EcoPencil sign, something Faber-Castell is using to highlight some of their environmentally friendly pencils, but there doesn’t seem to be a definite criteria needed to get this Faber-Castell stamp of eco approval. Some Brazilian pencils with this stamp are FSC certified, but the Columbus isn’t . Instead the Columbus has PEFC certification (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes). Another  reason why the Columbus got the EcoPencil sign is its more eco friendly varnish.

Faber-Castell Columbus


The Columbus delivers solid performance, as expected from Faber-Castell. The line is very similar to what you would get from a Bonanza and from a Goldfaber. This pencil is nice and pleasant to write with. Like many Faber-Castell pencils it feels a bit harder and lighter than the same grade from other manufacturers like Staedtler, so depending on your taste you might want to buy this pencils in a slightly softer grade.

This blog post has been brought to you by the Columbus 2103 and Cyrano Jones - tribble merchant. Buy one, get ten free. Surplus quadrotriticale bought.

Price: October 2015

Exchange rates: February 2016

I’d like to thank Róisín Fleming from Tom Martin and Company Limited for the information about the EcoPencil label.

You can find more photos from Faber-Castell in Fermoy (including photos of Roland Graf von Faber-Castell)  at the Faber-Castell album on the Fermoy Facebook page.

I believe that the use of the image from from the Irish Examiner, shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.




1 A fitting month to buy a Columbus pencil.
2 …but using the article bumber 1492 instead of 2103 would make it even better
3 The father of Anton-Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell ..and nine other children.
4 see p.42, Faber-Castell anniversary magazine 1761-2011; p. 110 Das Bleistiftschloss

18 thoughts on “Faber-Castell Columbus”

  1. Thank you for your comment.
    I really like pencils with a theme, so the Columbus doesn’t disappoint here. The white band, more so than the blue cap, looks nice to me, too. It’s a nice pencil and a shame that it’s only available in Ireland, but I guess we should be happy it is still around at all…

  2. Thank you for your comment. It’s a shame that you can’t get this pencil easily in the UK. I guess it’s only supposed to be sold in Ireland, so we’re lucky enough we can get it fairly easily… This pencil is definitely worth trying out.

  3. Michael H. Gerloff

    Thanks for your article. I ordered three packs (H, HB and B) online for an agreeable price, I think they might partner well with my Vikings 🙂

  4. Michael, thank you for your comment.
    I hope you’ll like them. It would be great if you’d let us know what you think about them.

  5. Michael H. Gerloff

    Since yesterday my pencil fleet is a bit bigger. The Faber Castell Columbus 2103 swims fine with the Vikings 🙂 Though I normally like 2B / 3Br, the H is a pretty good writing pencil.

    And the Columbus also fits fine into a colour collection 🙂

  6. Thanks for showing us. Looks great! I think my favourite from your pencils would be the Mongol in F.

  7. Michael H. Gerloff

    I have to say that the Columbus H is really tempting, for me as a softie it is still a good writing experience, the writing is black enough even for a 2B user like me. And I like the design combining orange, white and blue. So thanks again for your article!

    BTW: my orange collection grows 🙂 Got an L.&C. Hardthmuth “Eros” Kosmos-Kop 161 last week in an Oxfam shop: https://alpha.app.net/mhg3r/post/68067342/photo/1
    In good condition and unsharpened. Really do not dare to use it 🙂

  8. Thank you for your comments.

    Michael, If you like the harder one I should probably try to get my hands on an H. Many of the German-made FCs seem too hard to use in H, but this maybe Indonesian one might be good in H. Eros seems an odd name for a pencil….

    Janos, I think the Polychromos are supposed to be excellent, but pricey. As far as I know they are one of the few pencils that are officially light-fast and tested so they don’t fade easily in light – but as I use pencils for writing and not for drawing it might be better to ask an artist… but I’ve only heard good things about the Polychromos.

  9. An honest opinion, thank you! Well, it was pricey for sure, although I only bought the box of 24. (You can buy a new TV for the price they are asking for the 120 color version) We’ll see how it goes 🙂

  10. Please show us some pics of the drawings when they are ready! (maybe on Twitter?)

  11. Will do, however this present is due in 3 weeks so I am afraid you need to wait a little bit 🙂 I always buy everything early to avoid disappointment.

  12. Michael H. Gerloff

    Matthias, I ordered a pack of H, that is why I as a soft writer am tempted to join the Hard side 🙂 The Columbus H is a real good writing pencil that I am not sorry having ordered it. And as Gunther mentioned before: these orange-white-black combination is really pretty.

  13. Janos, looking forward to finding out more.

    Michael, now I’m even more tempted to get the H version 8^)

  14. Thanking you sharing all the history about faber castell pencil .. I really like this pencils which is handsome looking and also pretty good for writing pencil .

  15. jayaram marthy

    The beauty is , these seemed to made from cedar wood , which is an extra charm for any pencil. Now the grading …
    in my observation , bonanza, goldfaber, dessin etc are for different markets … They are do not deliver the same darkness and firmness for the same grade(hb/b).
    Also its worth noting Faber Castell sometimes give 2 1/2= HB, as opposed to #2=HB. As there is no industry standard across globe to this issue, hence such a difference .
    Nevertheless , the joy of graphite on paper is always a delight to an ear.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.