Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Staedtler vs. Faber-Castell

The oldest pencil war continues in Germany.

From a piece on the BBC...

Staedtler celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2010, while Faber-Castell will celebrate its 250th birthday in summer 2011.

But despite this, the two companies have argued about which company can rightfully claim to be the oldest, a "pencil war" that ended up in court in the 1990s.

Staedtler lost the legal case, but managing director Axel Marx still points out that Friedrich Staedtler, who was born in Nuremberg in 1636, was "the first person worldwide to be mentioned as a pencil manufacturer".

His sons had their own pencil-making businesses. But the city's strict guild rules meant that the Staedtler company was not set up until 1835.

By this point, 10km (6.2 miles) down the road in the small town of Stein, there was already a flourishing pencil company, Faber-Castell.

Outside the city limits, Kasper Faber had been able to incorporate a company in 1761.

The current head of the family firm, Count Anton-Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, is the eighth generation and a direct descendent of the founder.

"I do hope the company will still flourish with the ninth and tenth generations," he says.

That the disagreement over longevity continues to rankle is symptomatic of the keen rivalry that has helped to shape both companies.

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