The Mars’ head has a long tradition at STAEDTLER, although its appearance has changed over time. Today, the blue Mars head is not only STAEDTLER’s logo and trademark, but also a symbol of inventiveness, creativity and inspiration. Above all, it stands for the courage to make ideas a reality. Friedrich Staedtler and his great-great-grandson, our founder Johann Sebastian Staedtler, revolutionised the manufacturing of pencils and coloured pencils, back in the 17th and 19th centuries.
A pencil producer rewrites history
Friedrich Staedtler manufactured and sold wood-cased pencils in the second half of the 17th century. The special thing about it? He produced both the lead and its sheathing. He started his own pencil-making business in Nuremberg. Friedrich Staedtler is now regarded as the first German pencil maker to be mentioned in writing.
Friedrich Staedtler was born as the son of a gold and silverware worker in Nuremberg and was christened on 17 November 1636.
Friedrich Staedtler worked as a grocer. From around 1662, he produced wood-cased pencils with graphite leads himself – to the dismay of Nuremberg carpenters and gunsmiths. Despite a production ban from the Nuremberg Council, Friedrich Staedtler stuck to his idea. The copper engraving shows the workshop of a "lead cutter" (which we now call a “pencil maker”) in the 17th century (copper engraving by Christoph Weigel the Elder, from the beginning of the 18th century).
Friedrich Staedtler understood himself to be a lead-pencil maker (1662) as well as a lead cutter and pencil maker (1664), as we know today, thanks to the christening books of his first two children. Friedrich Staedtler finally achieved economic success in 1675, when he was granted citizenship of the imperial city of Nuremberg.
The invention of the coloured pencil
Johann Sebastian Staedtler, the great-grandson of Friedrich Staedtler, had already begun manufacturing a new type of pencil in 1834. He succeeded in improving the standard red chalk pencil so that it “can be sharpened to the finest point straight away”, enabled fine line thicknesses, and adhered better to paper. Through his innovation, Johann Sebastian Staedtler went down in history not only as a pencil manufacturer, but also as the inventor of the wood-cased coloured pencil based on oil and chalk. In 1835, Johann Sebastian Staedtler laid the foundation for the STAEDTLER Group today.
Johann Sebastian Staedtler was born in 1800 as the son of the Nuremberg pencil manufacturer Paulus Staedtler and learned how to make pencils and red chalk pencils. Ambitious and ultimately successful, he worked on industrially manufacturing crayons based on oil pastels. The red chalk pencils known up to that point covered a colour spectrum from light, dark to purple-red or reddish brown.
In 1834, Johann Sebastian Staedtler published his development of a wood-cased – for the time being – red coloured pencil, which could be sharpened and made an impression with its consistent colour and hardness. The production process, in which other colour pigments were later also mixed with binders, ground and dried in the oven, was his idea. It transformed Johann Sebastian Staedtler into the pioneer of a product that changed everyday life for many - an idea that made colourful waves.
The idea was to go into series production quickly. Johann Sebastian Staedtler was granted permission to open a factory on 9 October 1835. First, his company "J.S. Staedtler" improved the red chalk pencils, as well as the original pencils. From 1844 at the latest, coloured pencils in other colours also went into production. It was the birth of the coloured pencil as we know it today.
In the first catalogue dated 1860, J.S. Staedtler had already launched its coloured pencils under the product brand “Creta Polycolor”, which featured 100 different colours, such as “English Dark Red”, “Sea Green” or “Azure Blue”.
Nuremberg is the cradle of STAEDTLER. From here, product innovations such as the “Creta Polycolor” brand coloured pencils went beyond the gates of the Franconian city, and from the 1850s also to neighbouring European countries. Nuremberg remains STAEDTLER’s headquarters to this day.
In 1853, J.S. Staedtler exhibited at the New York World's Fair – to great success. Just a few years later, the quality German products were appreciated in Austria, France, England, Italy, Russia, America and the Middle East: 54 employees produced more than two million pencils.
The city of Nuremberg, with its well-known panorama, has been STAEDTLER’s main location for almost 200 years. It is also found in the name of a well-known brand: STAEDTLER’s Noris pencils honour the city’s common nickname.
Ideas that become everyday companions
In the middle of the 19th century, having a coloured pencil at home was still a phenomenon. Today, it has become a loyal companion that inspires people of all ages and at every stage of life. STAEDTLER now offers a wide product range that constantly focuses on new ideas. STAEDTLER also produces “Made from Upcycled Wood” coloured pencils from even the smallest wood residues. Some classic pencils have acquired cult status over the years, such as the Mars Lumograph pencil, the Noris pencil and the Lumocolor markers. Ideas become products. A few STAEDTLER milestones:
Ideas don't just need pen and paper. From 1939, Sophie Rehbinder-Kruse, daughter of the famous doll-maker Käthe Kruse, tried a new modelling clay for doll heads. In 1954, she finally launched an easy-to-form, oven-hardening modelling clay in unprecedented quality, under the name FIMOIK.
Shape, model and create objects according to your own ideas: all of this was suddenly achieved with FIMOIK, which was available in various colours. From 1964 onwards, the clay, which set the sky as the limit for creativity, was sold under a new name by the Neumarkt stationery manufacturer “Eberhard Faber”, and thus, FIMO was born.
In 1978, STAEDTLER acquired Bavaian company Eberhard Faber GmbH, and therefore also all rights to the modelling clay. STAEDTLER has been selling them under its own trademark since 2009. FIMO is now available as an oven-hardening and air-drying modelling clay. This offers even more opportunities to shape your own ideas.
The future needs good ideas. And STAEDTLER is constantly coming up with them. Whether it's Dry SAFE technology, sustainable packaging or pencils made from Upcycled Wood... We create ideas that make our products more sustainable, efficient and durable.