THROWBACK Pencil Review: Faber Castell Velvet 3557 #2

The Velvet 3557 had a long and convoluted history during its run. It was originally the Venus Velvet, before Venus was bought by Berol, who was eventually bought by Faber-Castell USA. In the mid 1980’s, FCUSA also bought Eberhard Faber, and by 1994 had applied that brand to its pencils rather than the Faber-Castell brand. Finally, the American branch of the Faber-Castell company was gobbled up by Sanford, which eventually merged its numerous pencil brands and product lines into the handful that now compose the Papermate lineup. And that’s the story of how the Velvet 3557 pencil was shuffled around from company to company until it finally went extinct.

But, as luck should have it, I happened upon a lone survivor of the Velvet line. We can deduce from the above timeline that this particular pencil was probably manufactured way back in the late 1980’s or the early 1990’s — almost as old as I am. Is this another vintage classic that fell victim to corporate consolidation? Or was it a weaker species that was doomed to fall to the wayside once natural selection ran its course?

Let’s sharpen it up and see!

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Pencil Review: Faber-Castell 9000 (HB and 2B)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I don’t know if the German nobility has an analogous turn of phrase, but if so, it would certainly apply to the Castell 9000 pencil. Since 1905, Faber-Castell has been producing this iconic writing implement in more or less the same form.

Much like other high end pencils in the post-internet age, the Castell 9000 is marketed as an artist’s pencil, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t charmed many a writer over the past 100 years. Today I’d like to have a look at these fine instruments, and see if they can work some magic for us!

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