Friday, January 26, 2018

Vintage Colored Pencils, Part 5: Wallace Motif and Invader

Vintage Wallace Motif and Wallace Invader colored pencils

The mixed lot I got on eBay included a good selection of Wallace Motif and Wallace Invader pencils. According to the National Museum of American History, “The Wallace Pencil Company began manufacturing wooden pencils in St. Louis in 1915. By 1979 it sold 120 million pencils per year. Before the 1950s, the firm packaged some of these pencils, such as its Motif line, in metal tins. Dixon Ticonderoga acquired the firm in the 1980s.” Unfortunately, the nice photo of the tin in this article does not show the pencils that might have come in it.

In any case, my small collection, most of which came unsharpened as new old stock, shows consistent branding and logos (the Motif logo is amazing!). Both the Motif line and the Invader line have lacquered ends that match the rest of the barrel, separated by a silver band. The only obvious difference between the two lines is that the Motif pencils have a very sharp hexagonal barrel, while the Invader brand has a soft hex shape. While I have plenty of colored pencils with soft hex and round barrels (and even one set of square), this is the sharpest hex colored pencil I’ve seen or used. They didn’t bother me while making this small sketch, but I think the sharp sides might get to me after a while if I were working for hours and hours on a large drawing.
1/17/18 vintage Wallace Motif pencils on Stillman & Birn Alpha
While the Motif pencils have a medium-hard core, the Invaders are very hard. I’m guessing that they were offered in two degrees of hardness similar to Prismacolor and Verithin, probably in matching hues. (I wonder how broad the color range was, though, considering that the names are rather general, like “yellow” and “green.”)

Given their hardness, I thought the Motifs would work well with Stillman & Birn Alpha, and I was right. I was pleased that they covered the Alpha’s tooth nicely while still offering good point retention and detail. I didn’t use any Invaders in this test sketch because I felt the Motifs were sufficiently hard for details (but I think I would enjoy using the Invaders’ barrel more).

As I felt about the Colorbrites, Wallace pencils are probably not ones I would continue to collect for use, but I appreciate having this selection of a brand name that no longer exists in the pencil world. I’m just going to sit here admiring the Motif logo and lamenting bygone typefaces. 


  1. These are very pretty. I'd never heard of them until now so thanks for the introduction, Tina.

  2. Don't you love those logos and typefaces?! Wow!

  3. So I know this has been forever since you posted but the invader are water soluble like a watercolor pencil. Kinda nice!


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