Polychromos - 111 Years of colours

Our popular Polychromos artist's pencil celebrates its 111th anniversary this year. We take you on a journey through time: Every four weeks we introduce you to three new colours from the limited edition and at the same time give you exciting insights into the unique company and family history of Faber-Castell.

Creative competition 111 years of Polychromos artists’ coloured pencils

This elegant and colourful package reflects the Art Déco Zeitgeist, which had its climax in 1925. Did you know that 1926 was also the year of birth of both Queen Elizabeth II and Marylin Monroe?


Nothing is more annoying for artists than a chemical reaction of used colours. Due to its tendency to become greenish and its harmful properties the original pigment zinc yellow lost importance in painting. Nowadays the colour shade is being generated by non-toxic organic pigments with light-fastness and is highly popular for its brilliance.


Countesss Ottilie von Faber rejoiced over this colour: bluish purple. She chose wall coverings, silk curtains and the upholstery fabrics in her favorite tone. Bluish purple was a popular colour name at the turn of the century and therefore made its way in the Polychromos artist pencil range.

Nearly as old as the mountains and bright as a sky on a sunny summit. Naturally occurring azurite is the base for this awesome colour, that was frequently used in European paintings until the 18th century. With the availability of modern blue pigments, such as Prussian Blue, Mountain Blue has lost much in importance.

The construction of a new modern manufacturing complex in shape of a “U” was started to meet the increasing demand for the A.W. Faber products. Did you know? These buildings and our Faber-Castell production inside can be visited as part of our Faber-Castell experience.


In former times artists were poisoned by toxic ingredients of the colours they used for painting. The toxic copper-arsenic pigment has long been replaced since then. The desired bright, light-resistant shade of green is pre-dominantly produced by non-toxic phthalocyanine-pigments with very good light resistance.


El Greco, Rembrandt, van Rijn and Van Gogh created masterpieces with it: Burnt umber, a natural pigment consisting of iron oxides and manganese brown. Grinded and sintered generates a deep brown colour shade.

The name of the red pigment with a brownish colour shade was first mentioned about 300 years ago. Did you know that English Red is a synthetic iron-oxide-pigment, produced by a sintering process of 700° to 800°?

In 1908, Count Alexander von Faber-Castell introduces the new colour pencils "Polychromos". His youngest son Roland, who is three years old at that time, will later take over the company. When Alexander traveled to the United States in 1909, the New-Yorker Staatszeitung bestowed the title "Pencil King" on him. 


As clear as the sky on a cold and sunny winter morning: the light blue Polychromos. In medieval times this fragile and slightly cool blue was created by mixing indigo, white lead and water. Isn't it beautiful?


Did you know that the human eye can make out almost 60 different shades of grey from white to black? Wikipedia describes grey as "a colour darker than white and lighter than black, but without making a colourful impression" – we'd like to disagree.

In ancient Rome Lead (II, IV) oxide was prepared by calcination of white lead. The transformation of white lead into the red lead was said to be discovered in a fire at the old Athens harbour of Piraeus, where barrels of white lead were burned at over 480° in a fire accident and the white powder turned red.

Polychromos: a coloured pencil praised by prominent artists and creative minds from Karl Lagerfeld to Ferdinand Porsche, enjoying unrivalled popularity with anyone who loves creating with colour. And the pencil has been on the market for an impressive 111 years. We have come up with something really special to mark this extraordinary anniversary: a limited anniversary edition. We are going back to 1908 when the Polychromos was “born”. It was Alexander Graf von Faber-Castell who came up with the idea for this new
pencil product range. The main challenge when manufacturing these pencils was to guarantee the lightfastness of the leads. It took a lot of experimenting to achieve a satisfactory result. Finally, a round polished pencil encased in cedar wood was produced in 60 colours, from Opaque white and Mountain blue, Saturn red and Van-Dyck-brown, to Ivory black. We found just what we needed in old product catalogues: presented as a new addition, the Polychromos is offered well-sorted in different packaging and advertised with the colourful image of a spectacular sunrise – the symbol for the start of a new era!
The Polychromos did not disappoint. Like the green “Castell” pencil launched just a few years before, the model developed into a real classic that is regarded among the top products to this day. For the anniversary edition, we have chosen a metal-cased version in four different sizes and 36 colours. Have we simply filled these cases with the modern products? Of course not! The product stamping has also changed over time. To reflect the historic original, we have used the former stamp design.
Faber-Castell - Colour Pencil Polychromos 12ct tin 111th anniversary
Colour Pencil Polychromos 12ct tin 111th anniversary
Faber-Castell - Colour Pencil Polychromos 24ct tin 111th anniversary
Colour Pencil Polychromos 24ct tin 111th anniversary
Faber-Castell - Colour Pencil Polychromos 36ct tin 111th anniversary
Colour Pencil Polychromos 36ct tin 111th anniversary
Faber-Castell - Colour Pencils Polychromos 12ct tin 111th anniversary short
Colour Pencils Polychromos 12ct tin 111th anniversary short
111th anniversary Polychromos artists colour pencils
Polychromos: enjoying unrivalled popularity with anyone who loves creating with colour.
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