While in Germany in August this year I was given the chance to part in a factory tour at Staedtler’s factory in Nuremberg. These factory tours are taking place nearly every day, but the audience seems to be predominantly school children. Unfortunately photography was not allowed for most of the tour, so there aren’t many pictures to show.
Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory is just short of an hour’s drive from my home town. Here in Nuremberg they make the leads for wood cased pencils and coloured pencils, They also make mechanical pencils and lots of other pens, like the Triplus, the Pigment Liner and the Lumocolor, just to name a few.
I was able to see how the leads are made, which was very exciting, but unfortunately I didn’t see the wood cased pencil production, as it takes place in the Staedtler factory in Neumarkt, approximately 50 km (30 miles) South East of Nuremberg.
The leads for all Staedtler pencils are made in the Nuremberg factory. That means that if, for example, you buy a Thai-made Staedtler Minerva the lead is still from Nuremberg. Not all leads are the same though. They all use Bavarian graphite and German clay, but the better ones get, for example, a much longer oil bath.
Seeing how fast the machines make the coloured Triplus (running day and night thanks to the adult colouring boom) compared to t how long it takes to make the leads for the pencils I wonder how it is possible to produce the pencils for such a low price.
By the way, I asked which lead is most popular, after HB. After asking around Mr Rüdel, the tour guide and Staedtler expert, told me that the second most popular lead is 2B. I am not too surprised, since many people seem to like soft leads, but on the other hand some of Staedtler’s pencils are not available in 2B, so you’d think B might be more popular…
Eberhard Faber and Neumarkt
The Neumarkt factory used to be the German Eberhard Faber factory1, until Staedtler bought it in the 1970s.
One of the reasons Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber company was the fact that consumers associate “Eberhard Faber” with “Faber-Castell”, so in 2009 Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber name and trademarks to Faber-Castell, who are now using it to sell their cheaper, lower quality products. Staedtler did however keep the Neumarkt factory and they are making wood cased pencils and leads for mechanical pencils there.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of a factory tour and would like to thank Mr Rüdel who showed us around and who answered all my questions patiently, showing great knowledge of all things Staedtler. I would also like to thank Ms Förster who also answered many of my questions, Mr Schindler, who told me about the factory tours, and Mr Hufnagl, who took the time to say hello, despite being so busy.
- which was independent of the American Eberhard Faber company [↩]