In 2007 I reported that Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencils were selling for $30 each on eBay. The manufacturer stopped making them in 1998 (the retail price at that time was 50 cents). Since then, the price has gone up to about $40 per unsharpened pencil. Here's a good article about the history of the Blackwing and why it was discontinued (in short, it was because of low demand and high machinery-repair costs).
I recently learned that the Blackwing, with its distinctive blocky ferrule, is coming back. On August 5, 2010, California Cedar Products Company acquired the Blackwing trademark. A few minutes ago I received an email from California Cedar addressed to me and a dozen other people, which read, in part:
Here at California Cedar Products Company, we are all extremely excited about the re-release of Blackwing pencil. In order to show our appreciation for the biggest Blackwing fanatics, we would like to send pre-production, never been seen, Blackwing pencils to a select group of people... We would like for you to try out the pencils and comment on various aspects of the new product.
I'm very curious to find out how well the California Cedar Blackwing 602 performs against my Eberhard Faber Blackwing (a gift from Mr. Jalopy that I use sparingly). California Cedar is the same company that makes the excellent Palomino pencil, so I have high hopes that the new Blackwing will live up to the slogan that was stamped in gold foil on the original: "Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed."
I'll keep you posted.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.