Staedtler


The German brand has blazed a trail in the design of writing and drawing instruments for more than 170 years.

Staedtler products are as at home on children's school desks as professionals' drawing boards. The range provides a sweet-shop-like selection for stationery fans.

The Staedtler name was made in the industrial heartland of Nuremberg, Germany. References in the city's history to Friedrich Staedtler, a pencil-making craftsman, date back to 1662. In 1835, JS Staedtler established the company that bears the name, and a factory producing 63 different types of pencil.

Staedtler became one of Germany's Mittelstand businesses (SMEs) and 80% of its production remains in the country. However, it was not the only pencil-making business. In the same location, at the same time, rival Faber-Castell was thriving.

The competition between the two led to a healthy rivalry and motivated them to innovate. Stationery innovation, while hardly in the technological vanguard, brought stable and reliable business for the two companies, but the rivalry eventually turned acrimonious when both claimed to be the oldest pencil-maker in Germany. The matter was settled in the courts in the 90s and the title awarded to Faber-Castell.

Staedtler's Noris line was established in 1900, spawning the familiar yellow-and-black striped pencils. This was soon followed by the blue-finish Mars range of premium pencils.

The Mars name inspired Staedtler's 'Roman head' logo, which first appeared on pencil packaging in 1925. The design has been streamlined from an ornate picture to a simpler shape over time.

The Mars name also became associated with Staedtler's classic plastic eraser. Rolling off the production line in the 60s and made using polyvinyl chloride rather than natural rubber, it was longer lasting and left less residue on paper, becoming popular among artists and designers.

Under the leadership of Dr Rudolf Kreutzer, who joined Staedtler in 1905 and managed the company until 1967, Staedtler continued to evolve, opening subsidiaries in the US, UK and Japan, introducing technical and mechanical pencils, expanding into ballpoint, felt, fibre-tip and overhead projector pens, and creating the Lumocolour brand.

These days, competitive development focuses more on green production methods than revolutionary designs.

Staedtler's R&D department is always looking to enhance even the simplest element of the pencil, from inventing the first coloured variant in 1834, to the WOPEX pencil in 2009, made using reconstituted wood.

Staedtler now sells more than 1bn products a year, encompassing its familiar pencils, pens and erasers and extending into art supplies and drawing boards. …

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