Thursday, August 12, 2010

In The Year 1969

Nixon became President, Eisenhower died, Led Zeppelin I was released, the Beatles gave their last public performance, Sesame Street and Monty Pythons Flying Circus debuted, De Gaulle resigned, the Manson Family did their stuff.

The Boeing 747 had its maiden flight, the Concorde had its first test flight and the Hawker Harrier jump jet entered service with the RAF. The USA got its first ATM machine, and the first messages and connections were made on ARPANET…the INTERNET was coming.

But the real news was elsewhere - the Space Race was on. And by on, I mean really ON! The Soviets flung Venera 5 towards Venus and their cosmonauts undertook the first space transfer spacewalking from Soyuz 5 to Soyuz 4. Kiwi fired Mariner 6 and 7 at Mars, and not to be outdone the Americans launched Apollo 9, 10, 11, and 12. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean walked on the Moon, and lived to tell.

Against that backdrop of supersonic aircraft and space exploration, the pinnacle of human technological endeavour, here’s the 1969 Staedtler Mars catalogue. This is their technical drawing catalogue – wooden and mechanical pencils, technical pens, erasers, slide rules, drawing templates, compasses, etc. This is the stuff that space-rocket designers used. The catalogue has 44 numbered A4 size pages.
staedtler 1969 catalogue cover

The pen and pencil works at Nurnberg.
staedtler pencil works

Here’s the mechanical pencil range.
staedtler 1969 leadholder page

Yep, that’s it.

staedtler 1969 leadholders

Four styles of 2mm clutch pencil / leadholder! That's their entire range.

Just think about it for a moment. Astronauts were walking on the moon and Staedtler couldn’t make a 0.5mm or 0.7mm mechanical pencil? Was making 0.5mm lead more difficult than sending a man to the moon? Their entire mechanical pencil range was 4 leadholders. Take another moment to think...the guys who designed those space rockets...they drew the plans hardcopy with pen and pencil, calculated things with slide CAD for them!

Now, to be fair, I believe Staedtler did release their first 0.5mm pencil in 1969, just not in time to get in this catalogue. Faber-Castell had been selling thin lead pencils for a couple of years, and Pentel for much of the 1960’s, but leadholders were still the mainstay of the drafting fraternity.

I would like to thank Staedtler for giving me this catalogue and a little trip back in time. I just wrote to my local national Staedtler and asked, “Any spare catalogues hanging around, especially old ones?” They replied unfortunately they had just had a big clean up and thrown away a heap of old stuff. Arrrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
But they had this old one if I wanted it....?


Stephen said...

This is no doubt fascinating to any of us interested in this subject! Thank you for sharing these images.

I am thinking I should contact Staedtler Canada...

B2-kun said...

Oooh, the 787 Mars Pan-Technico sounds pretty cool with its ability to accept leads ranging from 1.9 mm to 3.15 mm. I do not know of any leadholder available today that can do that.

2nd_astronaut said...

> Faber-Castell had been selling thin lead
> pencils for a couple of years.

Do you know the model name of the first FC thin lead pencils?

PS: Of course I liked your trip back in time and up to the space:-)

Kiwi-d said...

I believe "A.W. Faber-Castell TK 9501".

2nd_astronaut said...

Ah, thanks, I found it in the leadholder gallery:

The typical FC leadholder look from that time...