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May 7, 2012

Blackwing Returns — "Half The Pressure, Twice The Speed"


Pencils aficionados and fanatics, rejoice, for the second coming of the legendary Blackwing pencil is at hand.

Out of Japan by way of Kaufmann Mercantile comes a re-creation of these legendary graphite dispensers, they of the creamy feel and easy, elegant line.

From the merchant's website:



A smooth, firm pencil with great wear resistance and a dark line. Cedar with specially formulated graphite lead. Replaceable elastomere eraser.

Why This Product

When the original Eberhard Faber Blackwing faded from production, it did not go quietly in the minds of its most ardent fans. Whole blogs dedicated to the cult of the Blackwing sprouted up. A dozen unused pencils fetched prices upwards of $380. The composer Steven Sondheim appealed to the company to resume production. John Steinbeck, who had sung the pencil's praises in the Paris Review of Books, was surely turning over in his grave.

Exceptionally smooth with a dark line, the Palomino Blackwing 602 is a re-creation of the original, with improvements. The graphite formulation for the Blackwing 602 was tested and retested to achieve a balance of texture, blackness and persistence. Unlike the Palomino Blackwing, which has a softer lead for note-taking and sketching, the Blackwing 602's firmness and wear resistance is made for writing, with fewer sharpening breaks.

Like all Blackwings before it, the Blackwing 602 has the replaceable flat eraser clamp (known as the "ferrule") that distinguishes it from all other pencils. It also keeps it from rolling off your desk onto the floor. Updated from the dowdy, hard pink 1934 version, this eraser is black and made from modern, more effective elastomere.
Released on June 7, 2011, this is the second Blackwing pencil issued under the Palomino brand. Charles Berolzheimer II, a sixth-generation pencil manufacturer, works with similarly-pedigreed Japanese pencil makers and graphite producers to make Blackwing 602s to his specifications and the expectations of fans.
For the Blackwing 602, Berolzheimer reinstated the classic "Half the pressure, twice the speed" tagline on the side of the pencil. The line alone won't make you write at super speed but the jaunty claim was sorely missed by enthusiasts on the Palomino Blackwing reissue

Use and Care


The firmer graphite on this pencil makes it well-suited for writing long letters, furious notes, math equations, and standard deviation graphs.

Much of what makes a pencil good is a combination of the pressure of your hand and the way the lead interacts with the surface of the paper. The Blackwing 602 is well-rounded and gets along with all sorts of paper — from printer paper to college-ruled notebooks, graph paper, and the pages of your calendar.
To achieve the most perfect sharpness, work away at the point with a utility blade. For those of us who are less adept at whittling, a good sharpener will more than do the trick. 

Production and Design


More than a mere update of a cult favorite, the Palomino Blackwings try to seek to improve on their handsome predecessor. After the first reissue of the Palomino Blackwing, Berolzheimer developed a different writing experience from that first reissue by producing the firmer Blackwing 602.

Along with their Japanese graphite producer, Berolzheimer took his vision, and the feedback from the Palomino Blackwing, and underwent a formulation and evaluation process, producing a different pencil that maintained the spirit of the original. A control group of discerning and experienced Eberhard Faber Blackwing and other pencil users kept Berolzheimer on his toes.

Berolzheimer stayed true to the functionality and silhouette of the original Blackwing, but tinkered with color and design, changing the paint from a blue-grey to a bright gunmetal grey with a classy black eraser. 



Box of twelve: $19.90

I've been using mine (from the first box I ordered) for months, and still love the experience of removing a fresh one from the box and sharpening it to a needle point.

This is a beautiful and functional object of the highest caliber.

May 7, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink


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