Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Vintage Staedtler Mars Lumochrom Colored Pencils


Vintage Staedtler Mars Lumochrom pencils

When I was writing about vintage Caran d’Ache Prismatec Pencils last week, I remembered that I hadn’t yet shown my latest vintage Staedtler Mars Lumochrom Pencils. It came to mind because both Prismatecs and Lumochroms were apparently intended for use by engineers and technical illustrators rather than artists. (It always delights me to know colored pencils have been useful in many ways through the years.)

A few years ago, a kind friend gave me a set of 24 Lumochroms, which I showed back then. The new old set I acquired recently, a gift from another generous friend, is a set of 12. The two tin designs look identical, but the pencil designs are different.

Pencils for technical illustrators

Lefty orientation!

Beautiful end caps

In the set of 12, the barrel lacks the stylized S logo that the other set has. A more significant difference, however, is that the set of 12 is lefty-oriented (an appropriate gift from a fellow lefty!). Based on observations of other vintage Staedtler pencils, I believe the lefty-oriented pencils are older than righty-oriented ones. I’m thrilled to have two generations of these old Lumochroms.

My other set of Lumochroms is righty-oriented.

Like the set of 24, the cores in my newly acquired pencils are very hard and thin but with reasonably good pigment content. Similar to old Verithins, these pencils are excellent colored pencils to write with. I’m sure technical illustrators enjoyed using them for their precise drawings, too.


  1. This causes me to wonder why any pencils are printed with lefty orientation when, statistically, 90% of their buyers are right handed. Any speculations or insights?
    Anne HwH

    1. Hey, 10% of us is still 10%! ;-) My only speculation is that back in the day, there was no convention or consistency on pencil printing (maybe it was the printing operator's choice, so a lefty operator made these ;-) ). At some point, the industry must have decided it looked better in packaging or advertising if all pencils were printed righty? Oh, here's a thought: Maybe someone said that lefty pencils encouraged kids to use their "wrong" hand, so pencil manufacturers had to make them all righty to keep parents/teachers from getting up in arms! Just a guess, but that one actually makes sense, given how many kids used to be "corrected" to become righties.


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