Caran d’Ache automatons
Caran d’Ache was founded in Geneva in 1924 when Arnold Schweitzer purchased the Ecridor Pencil Factory. He soon changed the new company name to “Caran d’Ache“, nickname of a French satiric political cartoonist from Russia (карандаш, karandash meaning pencil in Russian).
I grew up going to a public school in Geneva and every september at the start of the new school year we would receive a box a Caran d’Ache pencils, eraser, fountainpen etc. needless to say I adored it and they managed to make a long-term client out of me. I was thankful that Caran d’Ache had left handed fountainpens because teachers spent many long hours teaching us how to form perfect letters … at the end of the year my school would ask us to give up all our pencils (if we wanted to) and we would send them to our pen friend in a school in Africa. And come September it would all start again.
I was fortunate enough to visit the factory 10 years ago; I say fortunate because I hear it never happens. I had asked them to sponsor a project for children by giving us all crayons that did not pass the “swiss perfection tests” and they did. I realize as I write how I got that idea.
I probably love everything about Caran d’Ache but if I could pick only one thing it would be the Caran d’Ache automatons.
For publicity, many years ago, Caran d’Ache ordered automatons that they would then decorate with pencils and place in different shops or window displays. Rabbits on bikes, brown bears and hedgehogs. Today this are extremely rare and priceless.
You rarely still see them today… I found out that they revise these machines once a year and in the factory they have a person that takes care of making the rabbits and bears outfits by hand….A dream.