Happy birthday / Alles Gute zum Geburtstag


100th birthday Faber Castell 9000 English / Deutsch

The pencil was invented in about 1662 by Friedrich Staedtler. The Nuremberg craftsmen’s supervisory body forbade him to make pencils because he was a joiner, not a white-lead-maker. (Günter Stössel, Nürnberg bei Fürth, ISBN 3 87191 323 5)

But the plot thickens. The only deposit of graphite in solid form ever found was in Cumbria in northern England.

bq. The first attempt to manufacture graphite sticks from powdered graphite was in Nuremberg, Germany in 1662. They used a mixture of graphite, sulphur and antimony. Though usable they were inferior to the English pencils.

More history:

bq. The local name for graphite was “Wad” and even recently a graphite pencil was referred to locally as a “Wad” pencil. In the first half of the 18th Century much stealing and smuggling of the “Wad” was carried on. In 1752 an Act of Parliament was passed making it a felony to steal or receive “Wad”, punishable by hard labour or transportation.

2 thoughts on “Happy birthday / Alles Gute zum Geburtstag

  1. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear there’s a pencil urban legend in Shane Carruth’s debut film, Primer. You see, the Russians found out NASA was spending millions trying to develop a pen that would work at zero gravity. So, not to be left behind, they put their best minds on the problem, who, after a brief chat, decided to use a pencil. I don’t know what happened next because I went to sleep.

  2. I’ve read about that recently as an urban legend. I say this because I used to have a very large cat who was too big for my lap and I got a Fisher space pen so I could write while lying flat out on the sofa. From http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp, quoting Fisher:

    >>NASA never asked Paul C. Fisher to produce a pen. When the astronauts began to fly, like the Russians, they used pencils, but the leads sometimes broke and became a hazard by floating in the [capsule’s] atmosphere where there was no gravity. They could float into an eye or nose or cause a short in an electrical device. In addition, both the lead and the wood of the pencil could burn rapidly in the pure oxygen atmosphere. Paul Fisher realized the astronauts needed a safer and more dependable writing instrument, so in July 1965 he developed the pressurized ball pen, with its ink enclosed in a sealed, pressurized ink cartridge. Fisher sent the first samples to Dr. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Houston Space Center. The pens were all metal except for the ink, which had a flash point above 200°C. The sample Space Pens were thoroughly tested by NASA. They passed all the tests and have been used ever since on all manned space flights, American and Russian. All research and developement costs were paid by Paul Fisher. No development costs have ever been charged to the government.>Because of the fire in Apollo 1, in which three Astronauts died, NASA required a writing instrument that would not burn in a 100% oxygen atmosphere. It also had to work in the extreme conditions of outer space:

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