The new Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil is a fine tribute to the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602

I started writing about the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 pencil in December of 2002. A lot of people love this pencil, not only for its soft lead, but for its unique eraser and ferrule, its metallic dark gray finish, and for its motto: "Half the pressure, twice the speed."

At $.50 each the pencil was quite expensive compared to other pencils. It was discontinued in 1998, and by 2002 the price had jumped to $20 per pencil on eBay. And because the pencil is no longer in production, a cult has formed around it. There is even a blog called the Blackwing Pages: Celebrating the Genuine 602.

Last year, a company called California Cedar Products bought the rights to the Blackwing trademark and manufactured a pencil called the Palomino Blackwing. It was met with mixed reviews. I tried the pencil and found the lead to be much softer than the original Blackwing -- it required frequent re-sharpening. Also, the finish was a semi-gloss black that didn't look anything like the metallic charcoal gray of the original. I kind of liked it, but it was quite unlike the original.

Earlier this week, California Cedar Products introduced the Palomino Blackwing 602, which comes much closer to replicating the look and feel of the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602. The owner of the company sent me a dozen to try out.

Img 5936

I have an original 602, which I was able to use to compare with the Palomino 602. The lead is harder than the first Palomino Blackwing. I can't tell the difference between it and the Eberhard Faber Blackwing's lead. The finish is mighty close to the original, too.

The Palomino Blackwing 602 is my new pencil of choice. I also have the pencil sharpener that Clive Thompson demonstrated for me at TED2011, which I will use to keep my 602s pointy.

Palomino Blackwing 602: $20 for a dozen

More photos and links after the jump.

Img 5911

Img 5912

Img 5913


  1. I’d like to try it out. I wish I could buy 1 at maybe $2 instead of having to buy 12 at $20. Still, looks pretty cool and I hope it is successful.

  2. Mark, I’ve been giving these folks a lot of business based on your recommendation. Will have to try out the BW.

  3. And because the pencil is no longer in production, a cult has formed around it

    Umm… I hadn’t noticed…..

  4. Awesome. Hope you can run a piece on Konstnärer’s bespoke paperclips in the near future. The model p311/b will take your breath away and is a stunning tribute to early Vaalar designs, very retro but with a twist – it’s only available in gun metal grey!

    1. Tee hee :)

      Seriously though, I have never felt like splurging on fancy pencils, until now.

    2. Hope you can run a piece on Konstnärer’s bespoke paperclips in the near future.

      We get occasional Submitterations from a website that sells vintage office supplies from Eastern Europe. You could have a drawerful of Communist-era Czech binder clips!

  5. Jesus.

    Really? A post about pencils? Is that what we’re doing now? And golly! With close-up photos and everything!! I can’t wait to go buy a pencil now! How awesome is that?!?!

    1. You know, if you’re not interested in a post, you can just skip it. There’s no need to be an asshole about it.

      1. Indeed. Before I saw this exchange, I was going to post my gratitude at discovering I’m not the world’s only stationery nerd. Thank you, Mark. Keep ’em coming.

  6. Is it just me, or does the Palomino (the one with the black finish) produce MUCH more readable writing? Are you pencil dorks completely missing the point of pencils? (Pun intended. :)

  7. Chefs have knives, painters a brand of paints or brushes, and writers have pencils. There is still something to be said for doing something simple really well. Apparently sarcasm is what you do well. Good luck with that.

  8. I bought a few to compare and was so unimpressed with the original that I started to wonder if the old ones on eBay are somehow being counterfeited.

  9. Mark, we’re glad you like it! Ive been using mine all week, and I know I can’t tell the difference between the graphite of the original and this one. We’re glad you are out there to spread
    the joy of wooden pencils.

    -Andy at

  10. Col-Erase pencils are the ♥. The LOVE! Especially the Blue. Back in the era of paper storyboards, they saved me time after time, day after day.

    The LOVE!

  11. I still have a whole box (12p) of the original Blackwing Warriors. Best animation pencils, indeed. My number 2 would be the Berol Turquoise 2B. Good to know the Palomino got improved.

  12. Do any shops stock these locally? I’d like one or two, I don’t really need 12. Are they good for drawing? (I know next to nothing about drawing/sketching and am trying to get into it)

  13. I’ll save my cultish desire for the discontinued Rotring 0.5mm Lava Finish mechanical pencil. That, folks, is a writing instrument deserving of my ardent longings.

  14. Wow, both my wife and I will love the new pencils. I also ordered those awesome sharpeners. Perhaps we “need a life” if we are getting excited over a few pencils? ;-)

  15. I’m a writer, but actually hate pencils. In particular, the cringe-worthy sound that normal pencils make when they move across paper. It’s right up there with dry snow under winter boots and styrofoam being crunched by friends who know I hate it.

    You mention that the lead on this is softer than normal — do you notice a difference in not only the way this writes, but how it sounds? Maybe related to how it feels but kind of not quite? If it feels like charcoal as much as it looks, then that’s a win.

  16. You snivelers need to STFU as pencil geekery does no harm and pencil quality really does make a difference to us that are all into it. Would you chide a painter for wanting good quality brushes? sheesh people…..

    Unfortunately for me though, I’m a down-scale kinda gal monetarily wise and have to make do with Mirado Black Warriors. (which are the best you are going to find in the typical store)

  17. To some, myself included, a good pencil helps to elevate an otherwise mundane activity to something tolerable, or even pleasurable. I am a pencil geek, in fact having the Tombow Mono 100 and Palomino logos tattooed down the back of my legs. Not to feed the trolls, but its a relatively cheap and practical fetish. I don’t seem to see any bashing of the drooling done over expensive electronics you normally see here (not that I am casting aspersions mind you, to each his own).

  18. As long as we’re on a stationery and writing geek ride, anyone want to share their favorite notebooks? I prefer bound, numbered pages in a typical notebook size. These lab notebooks from BookFactory are pricey but the gold standard for me, except that I wish the pages were more off-white.

    Another notebook I’ve found that I like are these journals from Nightingale Products. Unfortunately their website doesn’t show the inside pages, but they are lined and numbered in addition to having a short quote on each page. They also have a space for the Date at the top of each page.

    For cheap and numbered, these blue scientific notebooks form Roaring Spring are good. Numbered pages, light green paper is easy on the eyes.

    Someday I might order some of these lab notebooks from Eureka. I like the page layout and the paper is off-white.

    1. I don’t, but I know a guy that loves the Black N Red Notebooks by John Dickinson – which I guess are hard to come by in the US.

      1. Black N Red isn’t that hard to come by in the US. I’ve seen them now and then at office supply places. I don’t think the pages are numbered though, as best I recall the ones I’ve seen, and that’s a deal-breaker for me.

        Leuchtturm 1917 is another good choice, if you can find them.

  19. I used to use the Blackwing pencils way back when, in fact I might still have some somewhere. I just can’t understand why anyone would pay $20 for one. When I draw, any number 2 pencil will do as it’s got more to do with learning to control the pressure which is up to you, not the pencil.

  20. I still remember the day I went to Bob Slate to pick up some Blackwing 602 pencils, only to be told that “they don’t make them anymore.” I was pretty bummed out. It’s a nice coincidence, then, that just a few months after Bob Slate closed for good, to learn about this new incarnation of the 602.

    If you don’t have a fondness for stationery, it’s hard to appreciate why this article is good news.

    1. I’m saddened to learn that Bob Slate has closed. On summer visits to Cambridge, I always made a point of stopping in and stocking up. It was, in my experience, the greatest stationery store ever.

  21. I like pencils a lot for drawing. I have really taken to using the darkest ones I can find. I started with a General’s No. 555 and a Kimberly 525 4B, but one day waiting for the bus I saw a pretty girl drop a pencil in the gutter as she ran for her bus. I picked it up – it was a Mars Lumograph 6B. Fantastic pencil. The 8B is a completely different beast, but awesome in it’s own right (write?)

    Derwent Graphic 7B, 8B, and 9B are also good friends to me.

    Such a wonderful medium. I don’t use the Wacom tablet much at all anymore :)

  22. Nice. Thanks for the info. Now who’s going to do the same for the IBM Electrographic?

  23. I have to say that I was disappointed in the new 602. The smoothness that Palomino achieved with their first try is gone. While it is still a better writer because it does hold it’s point better, it still isn’t as nice as the original Blackwing 602.

    The best that I’ve come to find a good replacement is the Mitsu-bishi Hi-Uni in 3B, which I think is nicer. You may want to try the 2B also.

    Tombow Mono in the 3 or 4 B is also nice, as is the Palomino 2B (orange colored pencil), which I like better than the Blackwing 602’s lead.

    For the budget conscious, I really like Musgrave’s Unigraph in 2B lead, and their Unigraph and hex in HB and number 2 lead. Very nice pencils at a great price, and USA made. (Stay away from their B lead which is horrible. I don’t know why, but it is harder and lighter than their HB.)

  24. I’m not so keen on the palomino long point sharpener. I usually press fairly hard and I keep breaking the long points. If you don’t need to carry it around, I recommend this pencil sharpener by X-acto:

    Very nice sharp, yet still longish points.

    Pencilwise, I like Mars-Lumograph 2B or 4B for writing. You can get individual ones of these at any art supply store.

  25. I may be a pencil nerd but I really enjoyed this article and found it informative and well done.

  26. I have some Palomino 602’s on the way and they will not be sharpened with a Kum Automatic Longpoint – a very overrated sharpener. I will be using my Derwent three hole sharpener which produces an even longer point (without repeatedly breaking as the KUM does) than does the KUM.

Comments are closed.