Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2390

Actually, there was one specific pencil that prompted me to start blogging – the Mars Lumograph 2390 with the amazing long ferrule.


I came to this pencil effortlessly, to a degree that seems absurd to me now given its rarity. I had just started consciously collecting pencils, and bought some samples off Bobby Truby’s site, which is a great resource for pencil collectors and aficionados. If you don’t have the time or the energy to sit around waiting for something to come up on eBay, or if you’re a newbie like me and don’t know exactly what you want, then Brand Name Pencils is for you. Anyway, I thought I would try an old Lumograph, and I thought, why not one with a ferrule? And thus the 2390 came my way.

I love everything about it – its length, its unusual ferrule, the darker colour, the way the paint coats the wood just right so that the edges of the hexagon feel neither too sharp nor too dull against the hand, and above all the gold imprint that runs all the way from one side to the other. The crescent moon, and Phobos and Daimos, which is missing from modern Lumographs. And even its unavailability, which makes it so much more special and makes every stroke count.

It writes something special, too. When I first started on pencils the only differentiation I could make was whether it wrote dark or light, smooth or scratchy. Later on, when I got to know a bit more about the materials that made up the lead, I found myself thinking in terms of graphite and clay and wax, their relative proportions and degree of refinement. It’s still how I judge most pencils. But the 2390 defied anything like a formula, because the lead didn’t feel like a composite of anything but a smooth, harmonious, organic and perfect Whole.

Actually, there is something about the lead that reminds me of Caran d’Ache pencils, as if the 2390 is halfway on its way to becoming a Technograph. It’s my impression that the 2390 writes a bit darker and smoother than the 2886, but I’m probably imagining things…? The lead should, in theory, be identical. But all the same, it was a very special moment, when I first held the 2390, and I feel very lucky to have met such a lovely pencil so early on in my pencil journey.

And now – my Mars family :)


13 thoughts on “Staedtler Mars Lumograph 2390

  1. I agree about the 2390. What’s interesting is, that the *identical* ferrule can be found on the post-war Faber-Castell 9007s. Makes me wonder if there wasn’t a little partnering going on during the resource-deprived years following the Second World War.


      1. Hi Sean and Gunther, yes the period certainly suggests the possibility. Bob Truby’s theory was that Staedtler had found some old stock of the ferrules and decided to make use of them; they could also have bought the machine..? The A. W. Faber pencils here seem older than the 2390, which I would tentatively date to the late 50’s (it’s pictured in a 1958 poster).

        What was more interesting to me was that the 2390 had a ferrule at all, which I think is rare for a Staedtler and Mars in particular. I would like to know why they decided to attach one, and along with A. W. Faber, why they decided to get rid of it later on…


      2. I too have the impression that Staedtler has produced very few pencils with ferrule and eraser. For a long time the Noris 122 and the tradition 112 (both HB only) were the only ones, but the newly introduced Noris eco line also includes one, namely the 182-30. Pencils with erasers have never been very popular in Germany, and this is reflected in the product ranges of the German pencil manufacturers. However, I’d welcome a Lumograph with a black or silver ferrule and a white eraser! – Of course the hexagonal ferrule of the 2390 is something special.


      3. Yes, the lack of ferrules seem almost a part of the brand identity! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Mars with a ferrule apart from this one, but again my knowledge here is very limited… It’s interesting how German pencils usually come without erasers, whereas most American pencils do. My son prefers round pencils with erasers ;)


    1. Thank you for your comment and link, Bobby! So nice to see you here and thanks for giving me a chance to sample this unique pencil :) I love the way this ferrule wraps around the hexagonal body, keeping the edges alive – it must have been more complicated than the usual round-mouthed ferrules to mount. To me it is more beautiful than the famous Eberhard Faber clamp ferrules :)


      1. Bobby, the Chinese characters say “Chosen by the Wakayama Prefecture Society for Penmanship Education” – a sort of endorsement. So this seems to be a precursor to the modern Mitsubishi Penmanship pencil. Thank you for the link! Although I can’t say the Uni is my favorite pencil, the black-and-gold lacquer is very handsome indeed :)


      2. Thanks for the translation. I will add that info. to my page….I love that they added the extra text…giving that pencil more bling! I have others with the same writing….or so I imagine. I like the special pencils like the Fukuoka Prefecture pencil you talked about….by the way do you have an extra?


      3. Bobby, I don’t have any special edition pencils apart from the regular 4B penmanship pencils – they’re just someone else’s pics I found online. But I will let you know if I come across any. And do let me know of any other interesting imprints, I’d love to have a look :)


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