Saturday, January 20, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils, Part 2: Eberhard Faber Mongol

I love the logo and typeface!
Box front

Of all the vintage colored pencils in my modest collection, the logo and typeface on the Eberhard Faber Mongol set are my favorite. They are identical to branding on Mongol graphite pencils of the same era (I assume) that I’ve seen online (Three Staples has good photos). Instead of a ferrule and eraser as on the graphite pencils, the round-barreled colored pencils sport a jaunty brass-colored end cap with a black band. I wish I could learn more about these pencils, but most of my Internet searches led to their graphite cousins.

The only water-soluble pencils in my vintage collection, the almost-complete set of 36 came as part of an inexpensive mixed lot I found on eBay. The box they came in is rather tattered and fragile, but it can open up to form a hinged stand (shown well on Rad and Hungry’s blog). The copyright date says 1950; made in the USA by Eberhard Faber Pencil Co., Brooklyn, NY.

Inner box panel

Inside are instructions for “A New Technique” and an invitation to “Paint with Pencils” using brush and water. As you might guess, I was thrilled to grab some old pencils that are water-soluble, since that characteristic seems harder to find in my vintage searches. (Anyone know of other brands?)

Unfortunately, they aren’t watercolor pencils I am encouraged to use. After swatching the colors, I didn’t make a sketch sample as I did with my other vintage pencils. The Mongols apply very hard and dry, both the dry and the washed colors lack intensity, and the pigments don’t dissolve easily. They remind me of novelty pencils or inexpensive sets made for kids.
Pigments lack intensity; washes are wimpy

I’m not disappointed, though. I treat these pencils like flowers; they don’t have to do anything but be pretty and increase my happiness.


  1. Some of the Mongol colored pencils were not water-soluble. In my hunt, I found sets that were not labelled "paint with pencils" which is confusing. Then Eberhard Faber also made the Colorbrites. I am not sure which line of pencils were targeted to hobbyists and which were aimed at professional artists. Eventually, I think Colorbrites and/or the non-water-soluble Mongols were merged into Prismacolors or Verithins when the companies all started merging but I'm a little vague about how that all went down.

    1. I've found much of the historical info to be murky!

  2. I have a 24 color set and I love the gold printing on the Ultramarine Blue, Red, and Black. With the printing, brass end cap with black stripe, these are indeed some awesome pencils.

    1. They just don't make pencil designs like they used to!


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