Faber History; Kaspar, Johann Lothar von Faber, Eberhard Faber

Female factory workers preparing wood for pencil manufacturing in the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company factory, ca. 1920

A German family who are manufacturers of lead pencils established in 1761 by Kaspar Faber (d. 1784). It was then inherited by his son Anton Wilhelm (d. 1819). George Leonhard Faber succeeded in 1810 (d. 1839) and the business passed to Johann Lothar von Faber (1817-1896), the great grandson of the founder.

Two of the brothers expanded their family's pencil-manufacturing business into a worldwide firm preeminent in the manufacture of art and writing supplies. Three notable members of the family legacy are,

  1. Kaspar Faber (-1784) who established the first Faber Factory in 1761 at Stein, near Nuremberg.
  2. Johann Lothar von Faber (1817-1896) the great-grandson of Kaspar Faber born at Stein. At the age of twenty-two he inherited the ownership and management of the business founded by his great-grandfather. At the time of him assuming control, there were about 20 employees under old-fashioned conditions and, owing to the invention of the French crayons Contés of Nicolas Jacques Conté competition in Nuremberg had strained the company's success. Upon assuming control, Johann brought the company to a highly efficient state which became a model for other manufacturing companies in Germany and Austria.

    Under his direction the factory was expanded to provide for the production of a great variety of implements and materials used in writing, drawing and painting.

    Kaspar Faber
    The founder Kaspar Faber (b. 1730, d. 1784)
    The cabinet-maker Kaspar Faber produced his own pencils in Stein and sold them in the market at Nuremberg from 1761. This date is considered to be the founding of the company.
    Lothar von Faber

    Lothar von Faber (b. 1817, d. 1896)

    He eventually established branches or agencies in (New York) United States, (Paris) France, (Berlin and Hamburg) Germany, (London) England, (Vienna) Austria and (St. Petersburg) Russia. In 1856 he secured for his company a dominant position over its competitors by obtaining exclusive rights to the graphite mined in Eastern Siberia as well as branching out into the manufacture of water-colors, oil paint, ink, slates and slate pencils, including engineers' and architects' drawing instruments and built additional factories to house his various industries in New York and Noisy-le-Sec near Paris. He also had his own extensive cedar mills in Cedar Keys, Florida where he obtained large quantities of wood for exportation and production of his enterprises. For his contributions to the development of German industry, he was awarded in 1881 a patent of nobility and appointment as councillor of state for his services to German industry.

    After the death of his widow in 1903 the business was passed down to his grand-daughter Countess Otilie von Faber-Castell and her husband Count Alexander. A large portion of his fortune was devoted to the establishment of schools and charitable institutions.

  3. Eberhard Faber John (December 6, 1822-March 2, 1879), a younger brother of Johann Lothar von Faber, born at Stein. He moved to the United States in 1848, and became an American citizen. In 1861, he became the agent of the Faber business in the United States, building a Faber manufacturing plant, the first large scale U.S. pencil factory to serve an American market previsouly supplied by exports from his brother's plant in Europe, thus he severed his commercial ties with his family and set up independent factories. He subsequently carried out a radical innovation in the design of pencils by attaching rubber erasers to them. On his death the business was placed under the direction of his son and namesake.

Although the German branch of the firm passed from the Faber family in 1903, Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, incorporated in the U.S. in 1898 has remained under administration of the family.

References and Further Reading

  • Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory Workers
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Edition, ©1929
  • Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia © 1950
  • The New World Family Encyclopedia, ©1955
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia, ©1984
  • Faber-Castell Family History
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