Friday, February 17, 2023

Vintage Eberhard Faber Aquarello Oval Water Color Pencils

Eberhard Faber Aquarello Oval Water Color Pencils

A true gem hopped into my eBay “buy it now” cart recently: a vintage set of Eberhard Faber Aquarello Oval Water Color Pencils. The first time I encountered Aquarellos (doesn’t that sound like something I should have smoked while riding a train back in the ‘60s?), the pencils were of the conventional size and shape (see my post from a few years ago). My latest find has a unique form factor: It’s like a mini-length carpenter’s pencil – and a really beautiful one, at that!

My first Aquarellos have a plainer, conventional form factor.

The hinged cardboard box (above) has a pattern that evokes fabric similar to my other Aquarello box (at right). The pencils promise “A broad band of color in one stroke,” and the core’s shape certainly looks like it could deliver.

The box interior has a different fabric-like pattern that recalls a modern brocade or Japanese silk. The box has dividers to keep the pencils from sliding. What a classy way to present colored pencils!

The pencil barrels are natural, varnished wood and painted end caps. So lovely! From the looks of the points, the original owner used them to the quick, but then didn’t want to bother knife-sharpening more than a couple of them.

Painted end caps

Branding is on the narrow edge of the pencil only.

Dividers keep the pencils neatly in place.

I didn’t buy these to use, but I did make a quick scribble with a few to see the “the broad bands of color.” The dry pigment level isn’t bad for this era (others are certainly much worse), but like their plainer Aquarello sisters, these “water color” pencils activate without much enthusiasm.

I do like the practical shape of these Aquarellos; they remind me of the Rexel Cumberland Derwent Drawing Pencils that came in a similar form factor. It’s too bad that Derwent discontinued that line (though thankfully retained the same cores in the conventional pencil shape of their current line).

I’d love to see a contemporary pencil manufacturer put out a set of watercolor pencils with a similar broad, flat body that would support an extra-wide, soft core. Faber-Castell already offers the Albrecht Dürer Magnus jumbo pencils, so it’s unlikely to take on another thick core (and I wouldn’t want them as hard as Dürer anyway). Caran d’Ache would be ideal, of course – I could see the Swiss company coming out with a fancy (overpriced) box for them, too. Another one to put on my next wish list.

Edited 2/17/23: A member of the pencil community just showed an image from a 1930 catalog showing these pencils! These must be the oldest in my collection! And even more intriguing: Caran d'Ache has always claimed its flagship Prismalo pencil, launched in 1931, as the world's first watercolor pencil. But if the Aquarello appeared in a 1930 catalog...!


  1. Faber Castell is discontinuing Magnus! As a big fan of those chonkers, I'm really bummed. There are about eight colors I never got and now I can't find them open stock.

    1. (Blick only has 14 of the full range of 30 listed, and of those many aren't in their stock... and probably won't be coming back since they've been discontinued by F-C.)

    2. I just today heard that they are being discontinued!

    3. Artsnacks still has open stock!

  2. The trademark for Aquarello has a first use date of 1/1/1930, you might be on to something here. What an amazing find, love it!

    1. Hmmm... I'd better get in touch with Caran d'Ache with this news and see what they have to say about it! ;-)

  3. What a treasure to have in your collection!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...