Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell

Wanted Down Under: the Castell 9000 25

Here in the UK there are several TV shows about buying holiday homes abroad or emigrating. One of those shows is “Wanted Down Under”. The format is usually the same and involves showing how much more people would earn down under and showing what to expect in terms of costs, facilities etc. I’ve never seen a whole episode, but over the years I’ve seen different bits from several episodes and (suspenseful music) they have never talked about the stationery situation down under!

Time to remedy this. Let’s look at the Castell 9000 down under.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

The Castell 9000‘s main markings. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia
Please enlarge by clicking, so that the differences are more obvious.

For the last three to four years Faber-Castell Australia1 has been buying the Castell 9000 pencils from their sister company in Indonesia2. They said that prior to this they bought them from Germany, but if Faber-Castell Indonesia is out of stock Faber-Castell Australia will request replenishment from Faber-Castell Germany.


The Castell 9000‘s bar codes. Top: Germany, Bottom: Indonesia

In reality this situation seems to be a bit more complicated than that. You might remember Kevin from New South Wales because of his guest review of the Dahle 133 sharpener. Kevin reports that for the last eight to ten years he usually only came across Indonesian Castell 9000 pencils, the exception being some mixed grade tins, which are from Germany.

Sarab from Western Australia also struggles to find the German Castell 9000, which he prefers, and reports that its not easy finding a stationery shop in Europe that will ship small orders internationally. In his experience the differences in grade of the Indonesian Castell 9000 are very subtle or non-existent. In the past he managed to get Bavarian made Castell 9000 pencils in some branches of Jacksons Drawing Supplies, but now they also only stock Indonesian made Castell 9000 pencils.

Castell 9000 Germany Indonesia

Only the German Castell 9000 (top) has markings on three sides. The Indonesian Castell 9000 (bottom) only has markings on two sides.

There seem to be so many unused numbers after 9000. I can see that Castell 9000 is an established brand, but I wonder whether life wouldn’t be easier if the Indonesian pencil had another model number – what about 9001? It’s easy to distinguish the different 9000s anyway. In terms of colour and feel the paint of the Indonesian 9000, which doesn’t seem to be water-based, seems to be more similar to the paint used for the Mitsubishi 9800 and less similar to the one used for the Castell 9000 from Stein. The bar code, lead hardness font and print on only two sides of the hexagonal pencil also give the game away anyway…


The 'town' of Castell

The ‘town’ of Castell. The Castell 9000 is (indirectly) named after this town, through the Counts of Castell.
Nearby, on Schwanberg, you can even find pencil cedars. The first seeds to plant these trees in Bavaria were imported by Lothar von Faber (Faber, 1873, p.44)3.

I would like to thank Sarab, who brought this issue to my attention, Faber-Castell Australia for further information, Kevin for further information and for the Indonesian Castell 9000 he sent me in October 2011 and Sean for telling me about the book referenced in the third footnote.

More Castell 9000 related posts can be found at Contrapuntalism, Pencil Talk and Bleistift.

  1. Their boss is our other favourite Count, Count Andreas Wilhelm Eberhard von Faber-Castell, who has been mentioned previously. []
  2. Made in Bekasi in one of several Faber-Castell plants in Indonesia. Here’s a photo of the impressive entrance. []
  3. Faber, 1873. Die Bleistift-Fabrik von A. W. Faber zu Stein bei Nürnberg. Nürnberg : Sebald’sche Buchdruckerei []

Quick on the Draw 13

What a nice surprise. I was just just driving home from work when I turned the radio on and heard the end of “Quick on the Draw“, a programme from Radio 4’s In Business series of programmes. This programme picked up two topics that The Economist covered over the last few months: Staedtler vs. Faber-Castell and the Mittelstand. Today’s Radio 4 programme featured an interview with Axel Marx, Managing Director of Staedtler, and Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. Axel Marx talked about the Wopex and Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell talked about the perfect pencil and the luxurious Graf von Faber-Castell collection. I only heard the second half, but hope to listen to the whole programme on the BBC iPlayer soon1. I am not sure whether the content can be accessed outside the UK, though. If not: the programme will be repeated on Sunday, 17th May 2011, at 21:30 on BBC Radio 4. Even if you are outside the UK you should be able to listen to Radio 4 live over the Internet.

You can also read comments about this programme from the presenter Peter Day on his In Business page.

Two more comments:

  • It was nice to hear people speaking with a Franconian accent on the radio, even though the accent was not very strong.
  • I was not surprised to hear Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell in this programme. He is the one who is often representing Faber-Castell in the media. Last month there was a rare chance to see his brother – in a children’s programme on the TV channel of the public broadcasting authority for the German Freistaat (Republic) of Bavaria. The programme (“Ralphi”) explained how pens and brushes are manufactured and Faber-Castell was represented by …not Count Anton, but Count Andreas von Faber-Castell, who settled in Australia in the 1970s.
  1. According the the information currently displayed on the BBC iPlayer page the programme will be available online until 2099, if I access the programme with my phone the programme is said to be online for about 300 more days …but usually programmes are only available for a week, so I would not be surprised if this programme will disappear from the iPlayer []