FREE SHIPPING AND FREE RETURNS TO ALL 50 STATES
confirm your subscription
Yes, please add me to the jack spade new york mailing list. All information collected will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy Jack Spade 2 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10016.

Jack Spade Meets: Fred von Pressig

Fred von Pressig is a pencil collector extraordinaire, and the man behind the eponymous Fred’s Pencils. We tracked him down to learn more about the subculture behind our favorite writing instrument.

You’ve been doing this since high school. How have you evolved as a collector over the years?

Before I traded with other collectors (and long before the internet), I obtained pencils by picking them off the ground, trading with schoolmates, buying at local stores, and receiving gifts.  I also had fun searching my grandmother’s house, where old pencils turned up all over the place.

I collected postage stamps pretty seriously during my school years in the 70’s.  It was a popular hobby in those days.  Pencils were a side interest that grew to become an obsession.  One thing I liked about collecting pencils was that (as far as I knew) great collections didn’t already exist.  I could make my mark, as it were.  But I got some notions about how I would collect pencils from my experience with stamps.  For example, philatelists consider differences in the spacing of perforation holes to be important; I scrutinized pencils for small differences in their printing and ferrules (eraser holders).

There are different broad categories of pencils that people might say they collect.  Among them are wooden, mechanical, advertising, novelty, and brand-name pencils.  I collect all of these, but my main interest has always been brand-name wooden pencils. (Brand-name pencils generally advertise themselves as a brand, such as the Ticonderoga made by Dixon.)  I got into mechanical pencils when I had enough money.

You’ve got pencils from colleges in the Philippines, WWII era England, and all over the place. Is there a limit to the world of pencil collecting?

I have, quite literally as well as figuratively, pretty much hit my ceiling.  Most of my collection – which includes bulky items such as half-gross boxes, catalogues, and sales displays – is in storage in boxes piled nearly to the ceiling.  An unwieldy mountain of stuff.  I could almost say too much.  So now I want to show off my collection rather than add to it.  But I don’t think I’ve reached the limits of the hobby by any means.  It is a lot richer than you’d expect.

What’s the pencil collector scene like these days?

I’ve been to a couple of APCS [American Pencil Collectors Society] conventions, and they were fun.  There’s intense pencil dealing, especially near the beginning (before someone else nabs the best stuff).  Many attendees also display parts of their collections.  And it’s great to meet collectors from all over in person.  I’ve made friends.  But with the rise of the internet, with Facebook and blogs and eBay, the APCS has become less the nexus of the pencil-collector world.  Also, the hobby has gained a lot of popularity outside the U.S.

And collectors do have different personalities and ways of approaching the hobby – different levels of friendliness and aggressiveness, preference for trading or buying, specialist or generalist, etc.  I won’t venture to link pencil type to collector personality.  I will say that many pencil collectors (including me) are teachers, and few collectors of wooden pencils are wealthy (those guys collect fountain pens).

I’m sure many people you meet must ask, “why pencils?” What do you tell them?
I show them a bit of my collection, and they understand.

More Happenings

REASONS_preview-01

Top Pop - 10 forgotten reasons why dad deserves a round of applause.

10 forgotten reasons why dad deserves a round of applause.

shop these (and more), here.
on_purpose_eric

Jack Spade Meets: Eric Mukunzi

We recently sat down with Eric Mukunzi (below, seated), Technical Specialist at the Masoro, Rwanda workshop that produces every handmade item in our On Purpose collection. We asked him about his favorite parts of the job, what he does in his spare time and about his home city of Kigali. Tell us about your role […]
step 2

Made in Rwanda: Step by Step

Behind every handmade item in our On Purpose collection is a careful process carried out by a team of skilled artisans. Eric Mukunzi, Technical Specialist at the Masoro workshop, takes us through the the making of a tote bag. Step 1: Raw MaterialsFabric rolls are pulled from the raw raterials room and prepared in the […]
spring-2015

NY Fashion Week: The Spring 2015 Collection

Minimalist painter Josef Albers understood that color is relationship: one to another, the eye to the mind. Even simple blocks of it, placed with care, can create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The JACK SPADE Spring 2015 collection explores interactions of color and its ability, through careful application, to lend sophistication […]
Page_4

“The Long Road” by Richard Haines

Richard Haines is a Brooklyn-based artist, illustrator and designer whose blog, “What I Saw Today,” captures the personalities, stories, and style of New Yorkers he encounters. In the spirit of our summer 2014 collection, we commissioned Richard to create a series of original illustrations about life on the road. “The Long Road” recalls the black-and-white […]
forttilden_2

Escape To: Fort Tilden

Used by the military to house artillery until 1974, Fort Tilden‘s abandoned concrete structures are slowly being swallowed up by nature. The beach is the least developed stretch of the Rockaway Peninsula in southern Queens, and an ideal place to bird watch, let the dog off the leash, or just explore.
brennancarr_1

Escape To: Brennan and Carr

Placed in the center of a busy intersection in Sheepshead Bay, Brennan and Carr is a quintessentially Brooklyn restaurant that’s been in business for over 75 years. As the sign promises, its signature dish is a hefty roast beef sandwich double-dipped in its own broth. You’ll need a fork and knife, napkin and a tall […]
noguchi_2

Escape To: The Noguchi Museum

An unlikely refuge from the din of the city, the Noguchi Museum is hidden in plain sight on an industrial block in Long Island City, Queens, across the street from a Costco. Inside, you’ll find a world apart, created under the direction of renowned 20th century Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi in 1985, just three years […]

The Vendor Project

New York wouldn’t be New York without street vendors. They’re as vital to the outdoor life of the city as Central Park and jaywalking. When scouting models for our inaugural sunglass collection, we thought: who better than these men who work outside every day? With photographer Jeremy Sachs-Michaels, we captured portraits of the ice cream […]
Back to Happenings