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).
• 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.
• 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)
• 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.
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:
I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002, and over the decade and a half since, I’ve marvelled at his polymath abilities — running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary’s ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT’s storied Media Lab — and I’ve watched with excitement as he’s distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.
A flashlight review that begins with the promise “I’m about to hike through a remote canyon to an abandoned mine, and I gotta tell you there’s a storm raging outside” should end on an interesting note, and this one does. [via] Disturbing, strange sounds. That’s exactly what I caught on video while filming and documenting […]
Last summer, Warren Ellis serialized a novel, “Normal,” as a series of four novellas; today, they’re collected in a single, short book that mainlines a month’s worth of terrifying futuristic fiction in one go.
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]