First impression of the new Blackwing pencil

Img 3571

In 1998, Eberhard Faber stopped making the Blackwing 602 pencil, and its cult users have been pining for them ever since. An unsharpened Blackwing can sell for $40 on eBay. One person told me his eBay auction for a box of Blackwings went to a "song writer/composer who's worked with Barry Manilow and on feature films, and chooses to only write music using the Blackwing 602."

Today I received in the mail two pre-production Palomino Blackwing pencils, made by California Cedar. Keeping in mind these are pre-production pencils, here are my impressions after using the pencil for a few minutes.

More photos and notes after the jump (click images to embiggen).

APPEARANCE

Img 3570

• The color of the new Blackwing (NB) is flat black. The color of the original Blackwing is (OB) is a lustrous charcoal gray.

• NB has a gold band painted near the top of the wood, OB does not.

• OB has a black band painted on the ferrule, NB does not.

Img 3574

• OB has stamped motto HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED, NB does not.

• OB has pink eraser, NB has white eraser.

SMELL OF WOOD

• NB has a stronger, spicy smell. Reminded me of Indian food. Not unpleasant. OB's smell is faint, but this could be due to its age (at least 12 years old).

PENCIL LEAD TEST (preliminary)

Img 3575

• NB is softer and darker than OB.

• NB is quieter on the paper.

• OB holds a point longer than NB.

• I also compared the OB and NB to a Palomino HB, one of my favorite pencils. The Palomino actually seems closer to the OB than the NB does!

• A cheap pencil I found in my daughter's desk was so close in quality to the OB, NB, and Palomino HB that I found myself wondering why I was caring so darn much about pencils.

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION

I like the OB for sentimental reasons. If the NB ends up looking almost exactly like the OB and costs under $2.00, I will buy it. Otherwise I will use any HB that ends up in my hand.

Here are some photos comparing the different pencil leads I tried:

Img 3578

Img 3581

Img 3582