factory tour


Visiting Kaweco in Nuremberg 4

End of last year I had the opportunity to get a tour of Kaweco’s premises in Nuremberg, lead by none other than Sebastian Gutberlet himself. He is the son of Michael Gutberlet – the man who brought Kaweco back in the 1990s.

Sebastian Gutberlet

Kaweco did offer a tour of their premises at the time the Insights X trade fair was on, but back then I didn’t have the time to take this offer up.

The museum contains many pens from Kaweco’s past

 

..as well as more modern items from Kaweco’s recent history

 

The offices and the factory are actually just next to Nuremberg’s convention centre. They will soon house a shop and a museum, too.

Old Kaweco pens in the museum

 

Old machines in the museum

As you might know, Kaweco used to be based in Heidelberg (where Lamy is), but since Michael Gutberlet brought it back to life in the 1990s it is based in Nuremberg (where Staedtler and many other stationery manufacturers are).

..and old materials that were used to make pens

 

Sebastian demonstrating how the old machines worked

The factory visit was actually supposed to take place a few days earlier, but illness meant that our family’s trip to Germany was delayed. Luckily we were able to rebook the ferry. Kaweco was happy to accommodate, but as the tour now took place on 23rd December, with December 24th being kind of the most important Christmas day around here, there were no workers in the factory assembling pens and I couldn’t see (or film) the machines in action.

No workers that day, so I didn’t see the machines being used by professionals

Parts for assembling pens

That was a shame, I would have loved to see how fast workers are assembling Kaweco pens. At least I’ve seen this type of machine in action before ..when Kaweco let visitors assemble their own pens at Insights X.

Sebastian Gutberlet wasn’t the only Sebastian in the room….

In case you wonder: the plastic parts for the pens aren’t made at this location. They are designed by Kaweco but outsourced as you’d need a lot of expenditure for machines etc if you’d want to make all the parts yourself. The parts are however all coming back to Nuremberg to be assembled here. Depending on how big the batch or order is the pens can also be engraved here.

More vintage pens from the museum

 

Except housing the machines these premises also include the warehouse, which was busy because annual stocktaking was just taking place.

Hmm, the shelves must be full of stationery goodies

 

Even more goodies. Can I stay overnight?

Even more goodies. Can I stay overnight?

Since we were in Nuremberg anyway and it was just before Christmas we used to opportunity to visit Nuremberg’s Christmas market, probably the most famous one in Germany. By the way, Sebastian’s Ewok hat in the following picture from Nuremberg’s Christmas market that day was handmade by Shangching from East…West…Everywhere.

At Nuremberg's Christmas market

At Nuremberg’s Christmas market

We had a great day visiting Kaweco and Nuremberg. I hope I will have a chance to go back there once the museum and shop are officially open.


Visiting Staedtler’s Nuremberg factory 11

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 factory tour

Lead production

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…

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler's history in the Staedtler Museum

Mr Rüdel explaining Staedtler’s history in the Staedtler Museum

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.

Staedtler factory tour

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.

 

  1. which was independent of the American Eberhard Faber company []