Eberhard Faber Mongol Stenographic 596

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I don’t usually go out of my way to get a dozen box of any particular pencil. There is rarely any need to “stock up”. That said, there are some pencils that linger in the back of your mind, and it is only a matter of time before you find yourself in possession of a redundant but absolutely thrilling box.

The Mongol Stenographic is unusual on several levels. For starters, it’s round-bodied (like most steno pencils) and comes with both ends pre- sharpened; what is striking about the barrel is that it is much thinner than most pencils (it feels more like a chopstick than a pencil in the hand) – probably to make you hold it as lightly as possible. It has an appealingly natural look, due to it being coated with what seems like dark varnish, not opaque paint (the grains of the wood show through). The half-dozen box is unusual and lovely too.

That said, there seems to be generational differences in the formulation of the lead. The reason I wanted to get a proper box of these pencils was that the single copy I had of it (circumstantial evidence points to the 40’s and/or 50’s as to the period of manufacture) wrote surprisingly smooth and creamy for a stenographic pencil. I am not sure exactly when this particular box was manufactured, but the pencils in this box write more like a conventional steno pencil (such as the Venus Velvet 505), drier and harder. The body color is darker too.

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From top to bottom: 40’s/50’s Mongol Stenographic (no box), boxed Mongol Stenographic (unknown vintage), Venus Velvet 505

There is a very interesting vintage ad for Eberhard Faber stenographic pencils and pictures of a slightly different box over at Lexikaliker. I wonder which package is older; the typography and design appear to be the same and only the color is different (silver vs. light turquoise). It’s also interesting how they advertise the Stenographic as “quicker to sharpen” – it would be difficult (at least for me) to sharpen such a thin pencil evenly!

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11 thoughts on “Eberhard Faber Mongol Stenographic 596

  1. That’s a great find! I love the type used for the barrel imprint, and the colour.

    Derwent’s “Sketching” pencil also have a transparent, but dark varnish, and it makes for a lovely finish.

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    1. I haven’t chanced upon a Sketching pencil yet, must keep my eyes open! Thank you for the info. And yes, I don’t know what it is about stenographic pencils but they continue to fascinate me.

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      1. Sola, I’m planning to pick some up next time I’m in my local art shop, and I’d be happy to send you a couple in your favoured grade. It would probably be in June – if that suits, feel free to give me a shout on monkeyphoto at gmail.com

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    1. After much trial and error I settled on the only place with enough natural light to photograph pencils in our house – that is, the windowsill ;) And now that I’ve found it, no doubt we will move again and I will have to search for a new place [sigh].

      The documentation on your website was very informative, thank you for making it available to us! It was interesting to compare the packaging too.

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  2. The Velvet looks very nice — I bet it writes smoothly, too.

    If you are interested, here are two (poorly taken) photos of some later Eberhard Faber Steno pencils. Both the packaging and pencils are pink:


    I prefer the natural ones to be honest.

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    1. Wow, this is amazing! Thank you for showing us. It’s interesting how they adapted the regular polka-dot packaging to accommodate the thinner pencils (the box looks smaller, if I’m not mistaken). Maybe the color was intended to appeal to the predominantly female pool of stenographers? :)

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    2. Hello! I know this is an older post but I’m just now coming across it… Are these still available? I would love to take them off your hands, I really want to have a complete box to go along with my loose ones I have already. Please email me if you ever read this. Thank you!

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      1. Hi Brittany, thank you for your interest but I don’t have any plans to sell them just now, plus I’ve moved to a place where the postal situation is a bit iffy so they may not get to you even if I send them. The Mongol stenos come up quite often on eBay, and if you’re willing to wait a few weeks I’m sure you’ll be able to score some. Good luck!

        P. S. I’ve redacted your email address from your comment to protect your privacy.

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