Speaking of Pencil Revolution, there was a great comment thread on a post where we discussed the bevy of How It’s Made videos on YouTube about making pencils! Sean from Contrapuntalism linked to these fantastic old 1950s silent films from the Staedtler factory on how they made pencils back then.
(UPDATE: Sean first saw it linked from the great German pencil blog, Lexikaliker, back in 2010.)
There is no sound, and the intertitles are in German, but I think you get the idea, especially after watching the more modern video posted with English narration.
Here they are, in two parts. (Warning: be prepared for the bizarre music playing during part 2)
(Sean warned us when he shared the link, but I still wasn’t prepared for Christian rapper Soul P to start blaring in an ancient black-and-white film about making wood case pencils.)
It surprised me that this film is from 1950 — with the production quality, and the general look and feel of the factory, I would have guessed that it was much earlier, like from the 1920s or 30s. But then I realized I was looking at it through an American culture lens; it looks, to me, like it took place during the Great Depression. And the decade preceding this film was rough on Germany — the government lost a war, unprecedented in scope, was toppled, and the entire population had a huge financial, political and moral mess to deal with. This was a bad time for Germany.
The films are fascinating. Thanks, Sean, for pointing them out!