This year Faber-Castell celebrates 255 years in business, making it one of the oldest continually operating companies in the world. The leading manufacturer of wood-cased pencils, it also makes a wide assortment of luxury writing instruments, leather accessories, art materials, creative craft kits and luxury cosmetic pencils for some of the world’s top makeup brands. To tell the fascinating story of Faber-Castell one must begin with Kaspar Faber, who lived from 1730 to 1784 in a small village outside Nuremberg, Germany. A cabinet maker by trade, he had a side business producing pencils, which he sold from a basket in the village market. Its success soon made pencil-making the family’s primary business, and Kaspar’s son Anton Wilhelm took it over upon his death. Remarkably, the site Anton Wilhelm acquired on the outskirts of Stein to build his first workshop still remains today as global headquarters of the A.W. Faber-Castell Company.
Each subsequent generation grew the company and its product line (inks, writing slates, slide rules, etc.), and in 1849, Lothar von Faber became the first to expand beyond the borders of Germany. He set up foreign subsidiaries first in New York, and then in Vienna, London, St. Petersburg and Paris. In 1870, A.W. Faber became the fifth entry in the U.S. Trademark Register, and today bears the distinction of being the oldest active registered trademark in existence. Now a roughly €600 million business, Faber-Castell employs 7,000 people in 100 countries around the globe.
As if surviving (and growing) for more than a quarter millennium isn’t enough of an achievement, Faber-Castell is also credited with helping pass the first trademark laws to protect brand name products; inventing the hexagonal pencil shape; founding Germany’s first life insurance company in 1884, still in existence today; and being the drawing tool of choice for artists including Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Klee and cartoonist Carl Barks. One thing that hasn’t changed over Faber-Castell’s long and storied history is its serious commitment to making the world’s highest- quality writing implements, and its motto of “doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” The eighth generation is currently at the helm, led by Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell. His wife, Countess Mary, serves as managing director of FC Cosmetics, a division for which they both have a special affinity. (The two met when Faber-Castell began making cosmetic pencils for
Chanel, where Mary was director of marketing.) The couple’s four children, Count Charles and Countesses Sarah, Katharina and Victoria, have degrees in and studied international business, law and marketing in preparation for their futures within the company.
A notable highlight is the company’s Pen of the Year limited edition collection that is produced annually; the 2015 design features two versions, one in platinum and the other in 24 carat gold plating. Both are accented with Silesian Serpentines and Russian Smokey quartz. The special gold edition is limited to 150 pieces worldwide, along with $9,500 price tag. Among the more attainable — but still exquisite — offerings is the Ambition Coconut Collection. The comfortable fit in your hand and exotic palm tree wood barrel, featured above, will surely make you the envy of other pen connoisseurs. We are proud to offer Faber-Castell products, and to support a family business dedicated to upholding traditions much like our own.
Meet Beth Epstein from Faber Castell at our holiday party on Thursday, December 17 from 4 to 7