Friday, March 5, 2021

Vintage Colored Pencils: Wallace Invader (a Second Look)


Vintage Wallace Invader water-soluble
colored pencils
A few years ago, I wrote a post about a couple of vintage Wallace pencils that had come to me in a small lot: some Motif and Invader pencils (see that post for a bit of history I found about the St. Louis company). Brand Name Pencils says: “Founded in 1915, St. Louis-based Wallace Pencil Company was a prolific producer of pencils before being acquired by Dixon in the 1980s. According to the Smithsonian, ‘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.’” The example shown at Brand Name Pencils is a graphite Invader, so Wallace obviously used the name Invader for more than colored pencils.

At the time of the first post’s writing, I had surmised that the two lines – Motif and Invader – were intended to be Wallace’s soft and hard pencil lines, respectively.

Just recently I spotted a used set of Wallace “Silver Band” Invaders on eBay, and a small note on the box caught my eye: “Water color effects can be obtained from these colors with the application of a water moistened brush.” It had never occurred to me to water-test the few Invaders I had gotten previously, so I didn’t realize they were water-soluble. You learn something new about colored pencils every day!

The cardboard Invader box is typical of the era: It opens with an easel back so that the set can stand upright.

Barely visible, handwritten prices are indicated at the top of the box lid: 12 cents each or $1 for the set. Would a store have sold singles right out of a set instead of open stock? Apparently this one did.

I love seeing handwritten prices on old products!

The “silver band” on the box lid refers to the one on the handsome metal end cap (similar to the end cap on the graphite Invader shown at Brand Name Pencils).

I compared my Invader set with the random Motif and Invader singles I had acquired previously. In the photo below, the green pencil on top came with the set I’m currently reviewing. Its end cap and design match the yellow Motif. The Crimson and Carmine Motifs show two more designs, probably representing different eras.

The top green pencil is part of the review set. Others are random singles I had acquired previously.

No, I won’t be sketching with these Invaders. The cores are extremely hard – possibly a touch harder than
vintage Verithins – and the washed pigment is as pale as I would expect from watercolor pencils of this era. However, the dry pigment is decent, and the cores are so hard that these pencils could easily be written with. They sharpen to beautiful, lethal points.


Bonus: Around the same time that I had acquired this set, a fellow pencil aficionado gave me a Wallace Invader red/blue pencil! Note that its branding resembles the Carmine Motif specimen in the photo comparing the various styles. I am always excited to find a red/blue pencil that corresponds to a more general colored pencil line. I have examples of Eagle and Berol Verithins, Venus Unique and Venus Paradise, and a few other
vintage red/blue pencils that match their respective non-bicolor lines. Sadly, red/blue editing pencils seem to be going the way of the 8-track tape and flip phone. Although Caran d’Ache still makes a red/blue bicolor that corresponds to its contemporary Prismalo, I can’t think of any other contemporary red/blue bicolors with full-color-line counterparts.

A red/blue editing pencil version of the Invader.

(Does anyone else think “Invader” is a rather aggressive name for a colored pencil? It seems so friendly and happy to me!)


  1. I like the way the box stands up like an easel. The name sounds a little aggressive for pencils. lol

  2. They sure are pretty! And I love the idea of finding vintage colored pencils with cores hard enough to write with — that would be fun!

    1. It's not a difficult search because most old colored pencils are really hard by our standards now!

  3. I have found a couple red/blue wallace pencils at a thrift store. I love looking through their bags of pencils.
    I have a ton if both Eagle and Berol Verithins. Even several unsharpened! I have found other obscure brands I hadn't heard if before, and some Prismacolor Premieres. Eagle Prismacolor, berol Prismacolor, Dixon's best..

    1. You're lucky to find true vintage pencils in thrift stores! I always look, but the bags of pencils I find never contain anything interesting.

  4. I found a set of these at the local goodwill in high school (sometime between 2002 and 2004.) And am still using them to this day. The font for invader looks more like the red/blue one.
    These are awesome.


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