Faber Castell M grade pencil

Ah, the elusive A.W. Faber-Castell M grade pencil…

This pencil was unbelievably difficult to track down, almost to the point where I (and some other pencil collectors I know) started to question whether it actually got produced at all.

Saying as it turns up so rarely, I thought it would be good to put some pictures up on the blog.  There really isn’t very much information out there on these pencils.  Even Faber don’t really seem to have much information on them.

What Faber could tell me was that the 9000 M grade was introduced around 1955 and was produced until the beginning of the 1970s. In terms of quantity, nobody knows.  In terms of how it actually differs from any of the other standard grades, nobody seems to know either.

My hunt for the M grade started (like most people) with spotting the inclusion of it within some of the 9000 series pencils tins. You could argue that it looks extremely similar to the B grade, however, looking closely, it does appear that the line in the scribble is thinner and possibly even a little darker. 

To me, this is suggestive that the M grade produced a dark line, whilst retaining a point longer than a B grade or softer pencil.

The 1961 catalogue contains a drawing of the M grade within the wider 9000 series line-up.

There are things we do know about the M grade.  Firstly, it is not a copier pencil, it is a graphite pencil and therefore bears no relation to the mittel graded copiers within the Faber-Castell line-up. 

Further, when you look at the drawings below, Faber align their mittel hardness in graphite to HB (see the 9008 steno), therefore we can assume that the M does not stand for mittel, because it is not the same as HB (i.e., HB = Mittel ≠ M).

The 1961 catalogue outlines some further detail, namely that it is a pencil for writing that contains special lead. Your guess is as good as mine as to what that actually means (no pun intended).

The first time I actually saw an M grade pencil was in a photo of the Faber-Castell ‘Motorist’s Memory’. The half sized pencil that came with this car accessory was rather bizarrely an M grade. You would have though that just adding a standard HB would have sufficed.

I haven’t been able to track down one of these nifty car accessories yet – I know people try to hunt them down just for the pencil.

The packaging makes absolutely no reference to the justification behind the inclusion of the special M grade pencil. You’d think they would have highlighted this’ if not, then why not just include a standard HB?

So lets get to the pencil. The pencils I have are full length, not the half sized. They are very much a standard looking 9000 in the older colourway, although with the M grade at the end of the barrel.

On another face of the hex barrel, we have the ‘die schreibhärte’ stamping, which essentially means the writing grade or writing hardness (thanks google).

The final stamped side simply indicates that they were made in Germany. I have not seen any indication that these were produced by any other Faber factory outside of Germany.

The lead looks pretty dark in it’s factory sharpen. ‘How does it write?’ I hear you cry! Well, very well actually. To me it feels like a Faber-Castell 4B from the same era (which as we all know is not the same as a Japanese 4B), but the point retention is much better.

Faber-Castell were not the only company making these writing grade pencils. I have a couple of other examples in my collection, for example, the Venus superfine S grade:

Another example is the very sought after L&C Hardtmuth BHB grade. The BHB actually notes that it is for special writing, which I assume suggests a special writing grade, and not for only writing special things.

A great pencil to have in any pencil collection as far as I’m concerned. Now to hunt down that E grade pencil!

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