Others weigh in on new Blackwing pencil

Photo by Michael Leddy

I'm not the only person to have received a pre-production version of the Blackwing pencil made by California Cedar. So did several other Faber Eberhard Blackwing 602 enthusiasts, and many of them have already commented about them on their blogs.

Michael Leddy of Orange Crate Art said, "Writing with the new Blackwing is a pleasure," but believes (as I do) "the visual appeal of this pencil is likely to be as important to potential customers as the quality of the lead."

Sean of The Blackwing Pages (yes, an entire blog devoted to the Blackwing 602) said the lead is "incredibly smooth, and certainly worthy of the 'Blackwing' name," and that the pencil's distinctive ferrule "is an improvement on the old design insofar how it is attached to the pencil; it feels very solid." As to the white eraser, he is "on the fence ... it may be too much of a departure" from the original (and admittedly lousy) pink eraser.

For a good introduction to the original Blackwing 602, read Pencil Talk's article. Don't miss the photos of Eberhard Faber's other pencils (near the bottom of the article) with their achingly beautiful typefaces and colors.


  1. these guys must love these plugs. as a niche product, and with boingboing having such a wide readership, i could easily see this driving a substantial portion of their initial sales.

    1. I too dig the pencils – but the wonderful thing about Boing Boing is the variety of geek speak spoken. Not only pencil porn do I get to enjoy, but also technology, t-shirts, steam punk, music, art, weird news, Canadians…

      We could perhaps talk pens though. Anyone else dig a Hunt 513EF Globe nib with Speedball Super Black India Ink?

  2. If i get one of these, Im definitely going wth David Rees’ artisanal pencil sharpening service.

  3. I prefer pencils without erasers. I typically use Staedtler Mars Lumograph (2B), but received as a gift a box of Pentel Black Polymer 999’s.
    They’re not bad.

  4. OK great. I want a few dozen.

    Now on to great sharpeners. I have a lousy little electric that always makes me unhappy. I still have fond memories of the old school (literally) hand cranked versions that if you did it right would make a perfect elongated needle point.

    Staplers? 60s Swingline.

    Was everything just better in the olden days?

    1. You’re in luck! Swingline still makes the 747, which is the ‘classic’ all-metal design stapler. We all have them here in my office (mine is RED!) and they are preferred over any other by everyone.

      Don’t know if they hold up to the build quality of the originals from back in the day (probably now Made in China­™), but they are still sturdy as all hell, and always get the job done.

      Also, I second the call for more pencil porn!!

  5. Okay, I don’t know jack about Blackwing pencils. But I do know erasers. Usually pink erasers mean crappy erasers. White vinyl erasers, however, rule. I’m assuming Faber’s pink erasers weren’t any better than those on your standard 5 cent pencil. Is Palomino using a proper vinyl eraser? To me, that would be a a world of difference, as much as the graphite.

      1. Reading your comment, it suddenly strikes me a funny that bloggers are trying to compare the new to the old instead of the new to the currently available. The old Blackwing is not the new Blackwing for better or worse. But is there a currently produced pencil that is “better” than the new Blackwing? Should we all have daughters, wait seven years, and then dig through their pencil drawers in the vain hope of finding a pencil whose lead compares to that of the new Blackwing?

    1. Ah, the discovery of the white vinyl eraser.

      I found out about it as a kid, visiting cousins in Japan in the 70s. In fact, I was exposed to an entire culture of school supplies that just didn’t (and really, still doesn’t) exist in the US.

      Children’s magazines were filled with ads and articles about the latest pencils and pencil boxes. I remember an article about study desks, with callouts explaining the ergonomic value.

      But if there was one object that exemplified the difference, it was the white vinyl eraser. And the scent…ah, the scent.

  6. I agree with Anon #6.

    Who wants a pencil with an eraser? What’s the appeal? It’s to unbalanced, too heavy.

    1. A lot of it is the fact that if you’re used to having an eraser on the pencil, not having it (or another weight) can throw you off. I know my writing and drawing gets a lot sloppier when there isn’t a weight on the end of my pencil.

    1. Its time to go to the gym when you’re calling a pencil too heavy.

      One of the first things that you learn when you’re doing calligraphy or ink drawing with disposable pens is: Don’t put the cap on the back end of the pen when you’re using it; it just weighs down your hand.

    1. You have an…electric…eraser?

      F’in electric erasers, how do they work?

      No seriously. How does that work? Does it do the rubbing for you?

      (I’m sorry, there’s no way this conversation can’t sound dirty. I don’t mean for it to.)

      1. An electric eraser is indispensable for some types of drawing, although it’s probably mostly used in hand-drafting. Mine is vaguely pistol-ish, with a trigger. It has a long thin hole through the middle, into which you load a long thin eraser strip. Imagine a pink pencil eraser stretched out to six inches. But…you can get pink eraser, white eraser, ink eraser cylinders.

        The actual eraser cylinder rotates like a drill bit. At variable speed, so you actually could use it as a ladies’ sex toy if you have a steady trigger finger. It does way, way, way less damage to the paper when you’re erasing, which is why it’s so popular on drafting vellum, which is pretty thin. I’ve gotten Prismacolor off white museum board with an acceptable result.

        Mine is about 15 years old, but this one is pretty similar.

  7. As a kid, I used to have a bottomless supply of black retractable ballpoint pens that said “U.S. Government” on the side. God knows how they all ended up in the kitchen junk drawer of our doublewide; my dad was a machinist and my mom sold real estate. Anyway, those pens were ideal for making little pen-guns. You just sort of disassembled them, took off the little plastic dingus behind the spring, turned it around and stuck it back in *in front of* the spring, screwed it back together, and then, once you unscrewed it again, if you pressed the button the little plastic dingus would fly all the way across Mrs. Edge’s 2nd grade classroom and thwap James Hoffman in the ear. Best thing I ever learned in 1978.

    And that’s about all the enthusiasm I can muster for writing implements today. I use black Uni-Ball micros at work, and haven’t had occasion to use a pencil regularly since 1988 or so, except for occasional woodworking, where almost *anything* sharpish will work for my purposes.

    But them Blackwings do look pretty nifty.

  8. Who cares about a pencil this much? It is so lame and such an insignificant and unimportant news report.

    Now if it was about pens….

  9. BTW, just saw the Mad Men Paul Kinsey character using a blackwing on season 2 disc 2 episode 1. I lol’ed.

  10. Old school hand crank sharpeners FTW!!! (Apsco/Berol Giant)

    I love the smell of sharpened pencils in the morning…..

  11. There are three things about pencils; I’ve already made my point in the wood/mechanical debate – silver mechanical is the only one.

    But all this about erasers? (“Rubbers” in the UK – stop sniggering, child.) Who uses or needs an eraser?

    DO IT RIGHT FIRST TIME. If needs change, or you find an improvement, strike though the old, add the new. WDNNS erasers!

    Let’s reiterate on sharpening. Sandpaper. Special slots, glued, velcro, whatever, to secure it close to your work, but sandpaper. It allows you to create whatever shape of point is necessary for the stroke required. Small dabs at the sandpaper can with ease keep the point continuously fresh in a way that use of anything else totally fails to deliver.

  12. After I bite the original pink eraser off, I replace it with a bit of kneaded artist’s eraser. For sharpening, I prefer a retractable knife, mostly for the shock value, and sandpaper rules for shaping points.

  13. I remember I had an old mechanical-crank classroom-style sharpener in my house, screwed to the wall in the laundry room. Can’t remember the brand name, but it was built to last forever, and I really liked that it was geared toward producing a more acute angle than the ones at school would, so it’d generate a lethally-sharp point (though indiscriminate grinding would certainly wear your pencils down to stubs awfully fast).

  14. For artwork, you need an electric sharpener (Panasonics are popular) that sharpens to a really pointy point so that you can draw fine lines with the point and use the side for shading. Hand cranks create a less acute angle. Writing with an art-pointed pencil, however, usually results in prompt snappage.

  15. By truly amazing coincidence, the day after Mark’s original review I found a full box of Blackwing 602s in the bottom of my “not used often” art gear box. Now, thanks to Boing Boing, I know I can’t fall on them with gleeful squeal and use them. If the ebay listers are getting their “buy it now” prices, then that box is approximately the 3rd most valuable single thing I own. What if the kids find them and sharpen them?

    I look forward to getting my hands on the new pencils, which I can use and which won’t make me feel obliged to hire a safety deposit box.

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