My Collection – Photos and Commentary


Swan USA

Some of the major German pencil companies had subsidiaries in the United States.  The Swan Pencil Co., based in New York, was a subsidiary of Schwan.  Swan produced several brands —

Swan Brands

Othello and Fortuna are major Schwan brands.

Tiger 440 may be original to Swan —


As evidenced by the wartime plastic and cardboard ferrules, Swan continued to produce and sell pencils during WWII.

Pencil Exchange

Pencil Exchange sounds like a venue for trading pencils, but actually it was a pencil manufacturer —

It seems to have been a precursor to, or early alternate name for, the General Pencil Company, judging from the matching brand names and numbers.


General Pencil Company brands.  Others are in the Bowling and Red|Blue posts —

Kimberly 525 varieties:

Semi-Hex 498:

There’s a newer one with green lettering.  I typically don’t have new varieties.

These blue colored pencils all have numbers ending in 3:


Rexall Stores, formerly called United Drug Co., had their own brands of pencils —

It looks like they changed their Old Colony brand to Cascade, perhaps because Cascade is a peppier name.  Yet the old-style lettering remained.


Johann Faber

FABER is arguably the most famous name in pencils.  Everyone knows the companies founded by A.W. Faber and Eberhard Faber.  But there was another: Johann.  (Not to be confused with yet another, J. H.)  Johann Faber pencils were produced in Germany, the United States, and South America.  Here is a selection of German ones from my collection:

Obscure U.S. Pencil Companies

There are just a few pencil companies currently based in the United States, and most of those don’t manufacture pencils in the U.S. anymore.  In the past, however, there were many companies.  There were large, famous companies such as American, Dixon, and Empire; medium-sized ones including Linton, Blaisdell, and Musgrave; and little-known (today) ones such as Lo-Well, Mohican, and Providence.

And then there are the really obscure ones.  They may have served mainly local or specialized markets or have existed for a short time.  It’s hard to say how many actually manufactured pencils.

Here I present a collection representing these companies.  To be included in the set, the companies have to be American and the pencils have to say “Pencil Company” or equivalent.  I possess one to three brands from each company.

Click for larger image

One that I find particularly interesting says “Koh-I-Noor Pencil Co., Inc. / Fabricated by Red Cedar Pencil Co.”

There are 12 indicating New York, 4 Chicago.

Here is a list of what the pencils say about the company and location:

Acorn Pencil Co., Shelbyville, Tenn.
Albert Unger Pencil Co.
Allied Pencil Co., N.Y.
Atlantic Pencil Company, 303 Fourth Ave., N.Y.C.
Bogue Pencil Co., Yonkers, N.Y.
California Pencil Co., Hollywood, Calif.
Cavalier Pencil Co.
Champion Pencil Co., Bklyn., N.Y.
Columbia Pencil & Crayon Co., Chicago, Ill.
Condor Pencil Co., New York
Consolidated Pencil Corp’n, N.Y.C.
Cross Country Pencil Co.

German Pencil Co., 36 Tribune Building, New York
Graphite Pencil Co.
Indiana Pencil Co., Newcastle, Indiana
Liberty Pencil Works, New York
Madison Pencil Co.
M-B Pencil Co., Shelbyville, Tenn.
Monarch Pencil Co., New York
North American Pencil Wks., Chicago, Illinois
Pacific Pencil Company
Paige Pencil Co., Omaha
Pencil Corporation of America
Perkins Pencil Co., Chicago, Ill.
Pyramid Pencil Co.
Red Cedar Pencil Co.
Royal Pencil Co.
St. Louis Pencil Co.
St. Joseph Pencil Co., New York – Memphis
Seaboard Pencil Co., New York, N.Y.
Security Pencil Co.

Shirley Pencil Co.
Udall Graphite and Pencil Co.
Union Pencil Co., New York
United Pencil Co, Chicago
Universal Graphite Pencil Co., Clinton, New Jersey
Universal Pencil Co., San Leandro, California

Red | Blue: German Companies

The Red|Blue Collection page now includes German pencil manufacturers: A.W. Faber, Johann Faber, Lyra, Schwan, Staedtler, and others.  Pencils made by these companies in other countries are included.


In my previous post, I said that ALPCO on the old British pencil stands for American Lead Pencil Co.  For a long time, I was confident about that connection but couldn’t prove it (not without a web search, anyway).  Then I found this logo on a bill of sale from 1891:

You can make out A, L, P, and CO superimposed in the center.

It is understandable that the British subsidiary of the company would want to downplay “American,” since their pencils were manufactured and sold in England.  Later, the company name was changed to Venus Pencil Co. Ltd., eliminating the problem.  ALPCO brands continued under the Venus name —

Those brands seem to have been intrinsically British; I am not aware of any U.S.-made Fides or Veritas, etc.  The famous American brands Venus and Velvet, meanwhile, were also produced in England.  But for those, ALPCO was not used —