The 'town' of Castell
In the 12th century my home town, Volkach, became part of the county of Castell, which belonged to – you might have guessed – the Counts of Castell . Quite a bit later, in 1896, Alexander Graf zu Castell-Rüdenhausen married Ottilie Freiin von Faber and the name of the pencil manufacturer Faber changed to Faber-Castell.
Except this link to Faber-Castell there isn’t really much of a “pencil link” in the surrounding area of Volkach. All the exiting pencil stuff is happening about 100 km further South where you’d find the big pencil manufacturers like Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Schwan-Stabilo and Lyra.
Some branches the forest's caretaker removed. He also cut other trees nearby to give the Pencil Cedars more space.
I wrote there isn’t much of a “pencil link” here – well, the area around my home town can boast with one other link to the world of pencils, even though it is rather unknown. Trees from North America were planted in Germany to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production …and some of them were planted on Schwanberg , an elevation not far from the town of Castell, by the Counts of Castell – to test the suitability of the wood for use in pencil production. The trees brought over from North America were the Pencil Cedar (juniperus virginiana) and the Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus). You can still find some of the Pencil Cedars near Castell. 100 years ago there were also many well established Pencil Cedars North East of Faber-Castell’s home town, Stein, planted by Faber, which probably didn’t survive . These trees are not really used any more for pencil production, but if you have an old pencil that is more than 70 years old, the wood might be from a Pencil Cedar.
The Schwanberg, seen from Volkach
More about the Pencil Cedars at Lexikaliker’s blog post “Der Graphit” (German) (Link to the Google Translation)