Faber Castell Slide Rules

Faber Castell rules were manufactured predominantly in Germany, and they were clearly the dominant European slide rule maker. Faber rules are considered by many slide rule enthusiasts as among the best ever made. They sold a wide range of models, with many of their early offerings made of Swiss pearwood or boxwood with celluloid facings. Later rules were made out of Geroplast (their name for plastic) and featured some of the most useful and advanced features ever seen on slide rules. Always the innovator, Faber was often copied but rarely duplicated by other manufacturers. Faber was also one of the more popular slide rule sellers here in Quebec, along with K&E and the Hughes Owens company. Many of their rules have survived very well to this day, and remain among the most sought after by collectors.

Faber Castell 2/82 Duplex - November, 1968

An example of one of Faber's late model high-end duplex rules, obtained in mint condition. Although not quite as advanced as the top of the line 2/83 Novo-Biplex series (what a name!), this rule is a close second and features almost all of the well-known Faber innovations. Made of plastic with adjustable anodized aluminum end braces, it features a nine hairline cursor (5/4 duplex), and a whopping 24 multi-coloured scales with trademark green accent stripe on the primary scales and extensions at both ends of the major scales. It is also a "self-documenting" rule, as each scale has an example on the far right of what the scale represents and how to use it. Date code stamp appears to read 11/68, which is consistent with the late model feature set shown on the rule. You might want to compare this rule to the high end Aristo and Nestler offerings in my collection. The unmarked case is made of high quality leather with a dark brown finish similar to my Nestler rules, only much sturdier in this case (most Faber rules come in plastic clam-shell type display cases). Also included with the rule was a fairly typical single-sided plastic "cheat sheet" of common formulas and conversions, shown in first high resolution scan. I've also included links to scans of the appropriate catalog pages for this model rule, stored at Sphere Research Corp's Slide Rule Universe. Although I don't have the manual for this rule, I think the outstanding features of this model speak for themselves. A top of the line rule by any standard, and a real pleasure to use.

Faber Castell 1/54 Darmstadt - July, 1961

One of Faber's most common, and most popular, slide rules. The Darmstadts' were always made of wood, like the early model 375 at the bottom of this page. Although superficially similar to such simpler models, this rule is far more advanced. It has most of the standard Faber innovations, like the five hairline cursor, multi-coloured scales, scale extensions, and self-documenting features. Note the unusual P, or Pythagorean, scale on the bottom of the front surface. Also unusual are the S and T scales on the hard cursor edge (see picture) and the L scale along with the inch ruler on the slanted edge. These scales are normally found on the reverse of the slider in most simple Rietz/Mannheim rules; in this case they are replaced by the 3 log-log scales (LL1, LL2, LL3). As standard on this type of rule, a table of standards and equivalents graces the back of the rule, which also has dual hairlines for reading the log-log scales. Except for the lack of a centimeter scale and the odd scale arrangement, I'd have to say this is one of the most useful simplex rule I've ever seen (for a comparison, check out the later-model "advanced Darmstadt" made by Hemmi). Also standard is Faber's hard plastic green display case with clear top piece to show off the rule. A classic and elegant slide rule!

Faber Castell 57/87 Rietz - January, 1967

A basic model student's slide from Faber Castell, from the late 1960's. I got this one mint in the box along with the original manual, which was included folded underneath the big green label/wrapper. Made of plastic, this rule features the typical number and types of scales for this class rule. There is also an inch ruler along the top slanted edge, although the hard edge lacks any type of scale. Note the presence of some of the classic Faber features, such as the five-line cursor, self-documenting scales, and colour-highlighted primary scales. Standard conversion tables are printed on the back. The plastic case is made from somewhat lighter material than typical from Faber, and is clear instead of green-tinted as was standard for their cases. Overall nothing to write home about, but definitely functional and reasonably inexpensive for the time.

A.W. Faber 375 - April, 1932

An interesting slide rule that I originally thought might be circa World War I, based on its older design characteristics (most notably the wooden pegs used to secure the celluloid laminate to the wood). However, the engraved date code on the back clearly places this rule to April, 1932, which is consistent with a detailed reading of identifying labels. Few of the scales are labelled, and the language of the conversion tables has recently been identified for me as Swedish. Apparently, the focus of the table is on construction constants for various rocks and minerals. Although early Faber's were made of boxwood, by this time they may have switched to pearwood - I don't know for sure which this is, but boy is it heavy! The heavy metal cursor design also suggests an older model, as does the "A.W. Faber" on the box (the parent company before they became Faber-Castell in 1906). However, it does say "Castell" on the inside laminate behind the slider, along with the model number 375 which is also printed on the side of the box (not shown). Note also the centimeter scale on the top slanted side edge, and the inch scale on the hard side edge. Comes in a hard cardboard box that has taken a bit of beating, but stood the test of time well. Basically a similar model to my favourite K&E 4053-3 and Hughes Owens (Hemmi) 1771 rules. If anybody knows more about the bona fides of this type of rule, please let me know!

Unknown Faber model (360?) - ca. 1900

Undoubtedly the oldest slide rule in my collection to date (pardon the pun). I can find no evidence of date stamps, which is consistent with turn of the century Faber rules prior to the merger with Castell in 1905. The Registered Design D.R.G.M. of 98350 would place this rule as dating from no earlier than 1897, and the "A.W. FABER." label on the front would place it no later than 1905. The rule is unnumbered (also common on early models), and is lacking the case and cursor which would have helped tremendously in identification. Based on the basic (and unlabelled) scale arrangement, I suspect this rule is a model 360, or some related variant. The wood is undoubtedly boxwood, and features no celluloid laminate on the hard or slanted edge where the cm and inch scales are respectively engraved. Notice, incidentally, the lack of wooden or metal pegs to secure the laminate - highly unusual for such an ancient model. Also notice the extension of the cm scale behind the slider, as was common on many early model Faber and Hemmi rules. In fact, this rule is very reminiscent of my earliest model Hemmi rule, with an extended table of conversions equivalents on the back (I particular enjoy knowing the "Ultimate Strength" of various woods and metals). Although this rule has seen better days, its antique design still seems quite elegant somehow. It is not hard to see how Faber matured into such a premiere manufacturer of slide rules.

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Page last updated on January 26, 2002 -
All material © 1999, 2001 by Eric Marcotte, Ph.D.