The Leadholder Museum

A. W. Faber patent drawing for leadholder

The humble leadholder has been around a lot longer than you would think. Actually since the American Civil War, when the first perfected-for-manufacture holder was patented by John Faber of Germany in 1860. If you hung out with Art Director Harry Otto, you would know these things. Harry forwarded me a link to a website called Leadholder- The Drafting Pencil Museum, which is another example of how you truly can find anything on the internet.

It features documentation on just about every lead holder ever made, all the way back to the 1560’s. It might not sound that fascinating but once you see the site you’ll end up spending quite a bit of time there, ever if you’ve never used them.

The site is nicely designed and has some great history of their use including vintage catalogues, ads and blueprints of various makes and models. You never know, these could be the Hummels of the 21st century. (Considering what some of these things go for on Ebay, you may have your kid’s college fund sitting in your desk drawer.) So, ditch that gold and buy some vintage leadholders. Get started here: Audrey’s Pencils.

Suggested Reading – “Illustrated Cabinetmaking”

Face it, having to design furniture or create construction drawings for it is not on most set designer’s list of favorite-things-to-draw. Sometimes you can get away with doing what’s basically a giant napkin drawing but most of the time you’ve got to get into some real details: like joinery, hardware and material specs. And there are the standards: what’s the widest bookshelf you can have before you’ve got a serious sagging problem?

If you have only one book on furniture and cabinetry, Illustrated Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton, is a good choice. Written for woodworkers, this book is an excellent reference for anyone who needs to draw or understand furniture design and construction. The book details over 90 different pieces and contains over 1300 beautiful pencil drawings. Each spread describes the piece in detail with exploded views and details, and gives design variations as well as sources for measured drawings.



There are also chapters on joinery, door and case construction, styles and the basic design standards for each type of furnishing.

Typical layout showing exploded views and details

Examples of joinery details

Each chapter is begun with a design standards chart

The book is published by Fox Chapel Publishing and retails for $24.95.