A.W. Faber Sure-Grip 6803 Clutch Pencil

Thanks to the fact that my neighborhood is filled with artists both working and retired, yard sales tend to be a jackpot for vintage office supplies. This little gem is a vintage A.W. Faber Sure-Grip 6803. Its a clutch-style leadholder pencil that takes 2mm leads. These are popular with architects and draftsmen (draftspeople?) as the lead is strong and can be sharpened to a wicked point using a lead pointer. It’s stamped “USA” as well.

Digging in Wikipedia and various web sites, Faber was actually part of the Castell empire as far back as the 19th century so they must have had a manufacturing facility in the US. This looks like a mid-20th century lead holder by which time, I suspect, the pencil empire required manufacturing facilities in many countries.

A.W. Faber Sure-Grip vintage clutch pencil

This particular leadholder had a pre-sharpened lead so sharp I think I could have impaled someone with it. Isn’t it fantastic? I suspect the previous owner is responsible for this and that it did not come from the factory like this.

The pencil body itself is a combination of a metal knurled grip section and a metal clutch with a metallic painted hexagonal pencil body. The button on the end to release the clutch is also metal (painted a nice red).  I like it because the painted plastic section makes the whole pencil lighter and with a lower center of gravity than an all-metal leadholder.

Overall, I can tell by the construction that this was an everyday tool on the budget side of the spectrum. As a collector’s item, its probably not worth more than about $5 but I really like it and know that it came from the nice, retired draftsman down the street who was thrilled to know it was going to someone who would appreciate it. Oh, if he only knew!


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9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I think you’re off on the value of the lead grabber. I have come into a similar a.w. faber sure-grip 6803 that is red. Unfortunately, it didn’t come with any leads so I have been googling the internet for leads on 2 mm leads for a few days and in so doing, I noticed that the red variety of this pen is selling on e-bay for better than 15 dollars US. The Blue is closer to 50 dollars US. I haven’t seen any in your color though. Good luck.

    1. Art supply stores or JetPens are good sources for 2mm leads. I do hope you find more reasonably priced leads and lead holders!

      1. Thanks for the hint but I found what I needed at Office Depot. However, I think you miss the point. This lead holder is no longer in production therefore its inherent value is increasing rather than decreasing as say a Schaeffer lead holder would. AW Faber was the son of the man who started the company that became Faber-Castell a company that has been a premiere pencil producer since it was founded in 1761. The name of the company changed remained unchanged until AW Faber’s son Lothar “… placed great store by top quality and exclusive presentation of his products, stamped “A.W. Faber” – and so the first brand-name writing implement came into being.” In short, these particular pen holders are probably at least 75 years old. But thank you for your well wishes just the same. 🙂

        1. It is an old leadholder to be sure but its also the kind of item that will turn up in a box at a yard sale because its not nearly as collectible as a fountain pen for most people. If people know you like these, they will find their way to you as they clean out garages, attics and junk drawers.

          1. Nice rebuttal but I didn’t say it was collectible…just vintage. Consequently, your point is mute.

    2. I just found a blue one! It has a red core in it, but the tool itself is blue. I love thrift stores. I have found many a gem there. $2

  2. These things are wonderful. I have a maroon-colored one and I’m not actually sure if it’s from my now deceased father who had lots of such vintage things (including dark-tinted rubber cement bottles with lids with attached brushes–who remembers these?!) or if it’s from an ad-agency where I worked over 3 decades ago that had Faber-Castell as their #1 client and I found this among the literally thousands of samples we used to get. In any event, it’s so much more pleasant to use than wood pencils. The 2mm HB Faber-Castell lead is silky smooth and it’s perfectly weighted too. So glad to see that others appreciate it, too!

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