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Friedrich Staedtler

Who was the first pencil-maker?

The pencil has been a trusted companion in everyday lives for many centuries now. More than 81 percent (source: Statista, 2011) of Germans use pencils on a regular basis - for example, to note things down or make a sketch of something. It is, however, not quite clear where its origins lie.

What we do know is that already in the 17th century there were so-called ‘lead-pencil makers’ practising their trade in Germany – in the Nuremberg region in particular.

One of the pencil pioneers was Friedrich Staedtler, an ancestor of our company founder.

References to him in Nuremberg’s city annals date back to 1662 and he is considered to have been the first officially recognised ‘lead-pencil maker’.
350 years ago, Friedrich Staedtler applied to the Nuremberg council for permission to manufacture pencils completely independently.

This step not only marked the beginning of the pencil-making tradition within his own family, it was also of great consequence for the pencilmaking trade as a whole.

Friedrich Staedtler, son of the gold and silver wire-drawer Hans Staedtler, was born in 1636 and was christened on 17th November of the same year in the Nuremberg parish of St. Lorenz.
Full of enthusiasm, he later went on learn about ‘pencil making’ from his father-in-law Michael Jenig, a gun stocker by trade.
At the age of 25, he applied to the Nuremberg council for permission to manufacture pencils himself.

He wanted to make the entire pencil from start to finish: from the lead and the cutting of the wooden stick to the gluing of the lead and planing of the wooden stick right up to the finished pencil itself.

On 28th February 1662, the council rejected the application on the grounds that the finishing of pencils was a privilege reserved for members of the carpenters’ guild and that the manufacture of a pencil from start to finish required craftsmen from two different professions:

Two professions required to manufacture a pencil

For cutting the graphite:

  • Lead cutter
  • Lead melter

For further processing:

  • Carpenter
  • Gun stocker
  • Knife handle maker
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Friedrich Staedtler - pencil maker without limits!

Friedrich Staedtler ignored the council’s rejection and produced complete pencils from then on.

As from 14th July 1662, he officially referred to himself as a lead-pencil maker and entered this as his profession in the church register of St. Lorenz for the first time at the christening of his first child.

His actions provided a strong impetus to the pencil-making trade and, in the year 1675, he was conferred Nuremberg citizen rights in recognition of his accomplishments.