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The Extravagant Tale of a Mere Pencil: Palomino & Blackwing

11 Jul

See all Palomino and Blackwing products on EuropeanPaper.com

Let us start out by saying that for the die-hard fans of the original Blackwing pencils reading this, it is not a fully comprehensive post of Blackwing, and we know that. The history, excitement, and controversy that surrounds Blackwing pencils is much too long to begin with. Which makes it that much more enticing to bring on our site! Over time we hope to do justice to the Blackwing story. Sooo (drumroll please … ), we’re thrilled to introduce Palomino products and their Blackwing Pencils (hard & soft lead) to EuropeanPaper.com’s audience!

Blackwing Origins

It all starts with Johann Eberhard Faber (b. 1822; d. 1879), a descendant of the famous Bavarian pencil manufacturing family, Faber. While he ultimately spent his career life in America and established the first lead pencil factory in New York, he kept close ties (and the same level of high quality pencils) with the Faber pencil factories back in Germany. Even though he did not personally see the launch of the Blackwing pencil, as it wasn’t created until the 1930′s, Johann Eberhard Faber’s family standard of pencils was upheld throughout the decades to produce the ‘best pencil ever made,’ as many have dubbed the Blackwing.

When it first launched in the 1930′s, the Blackwing 602 pencil took off in popularity and was celebrated by famous writers and artists such as John Steinbeck, Vladimir Nabokov, and Chuck Jones over the years. The Blackwing 602 became famous in its own right, not just due to the well-recognized names who boasted of the pencil, but for two design reasons: first, the unique lead that seamlessly glided across the page, and second, the now-iconic rectangular ferrule and eraser that could be replaced easily.

Ultimately, Eberhard Faber was bought by Faber-Castell USA in 1988; then in 1994, Faber-Castell was bought by Sanford Corp. (a division of Newell-Rubbermaid). The Blackwing had survived the turnovers, but was destined to eventually run out as the machine that made the clips for the eraser ferrule was broken for years and never fixed.

When the Blackwing eraser ferrule stock ran out in 1998, Sanford decided not to fix the original machine, and with that the Blackwing pencil’s time was over. Granted, it had built such a name for itself that when it ran out, collectors snatched up every last one and Blackwing pencils would sell on eBay for up to $40, creating an even larger reputation.

Palomino Picks up the Pieces

Palomino Blackwing Soft Graphite Pencils (12 ct.) on EuropeanPaper.com

Palomino Blackwing Soft Graphite Pencils 12 ct. on EuropeanPaper.com

At this point, Palomino, a division of California Cedar Products Company, “the world’s largest producer of wooden pencil slats,” according to their website, picked up the trademark. In 2010, Palomino CEO Charles Berolzheimer, a pencil maker with several generations in the business just like Eberhard Faber, used his unique supply relationships to re-introduce the Blackwing pencil.

However, the “Palomino Blackwing” was slightly modified (made best for artists with an even softer lead) and original Blackwing aficionados balked at the design changes. The power of the Blackwing community pushed Berolzheimer to stick to the trusted Blackwing formula. So in 2011, Palomino came out with the “Blackwing 602,” a homage to the original, best for devotees, writers, and everyday users, for its ability to hold a point.

Form & Function: Why Blackwing Pencils Kick … Butt

Whether you go for the soft or firm lead (or both), the Blackwing pencils from Palomino are guaranteed an instant classic in your daily arsenal.

Palomino Blackwing 602 Firm Graphite Pencils (12 ct.) on EuropeanPaper.com

Palomino Blackwing 602 Firm Graphite Pencils 12 ct. on EuropeanPaper.com

The Palomino Blackwing 602 Firm Graphite Pencil is finely crafted from cedar wood and finished with a thick metallic grey coating. It’s embossed with gold lettering on the sides, detailing “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed.” Ideal for writers, the firm lead puts down an incredibly smooth line without having to be sharpened after each word. The original, unique rectangular black eraser even pops out so you can replace it after whittling it down after writing your masterpiece. Available in a box of 12 pencils, the Palomino Blackwing 602 Firm Graphite Pencil is the classic 602 you’ve been seeking.

Similar, but oh-so-subtly different, the Palomino Backwing Soft Graphite Pencil is also finely crafted from cedar wood, but finished with a thick metallic black coating (instead of grey). Embossed also with the gold lettering on the sides, this time simply reading “Palomino Blackwing.” Made with soft lead (instead of firm lead like the 602), it is best for illustrators and artists, but of course it can still be used by writers and everyday users. It also comes with a white rectangular eraser that pops out so you can replace it after whittling it down after drawing the day away. Available in a box of 12 pencils, the Palomino Blackwing Soft Graphite Pencil is the ultimate go-to for artists and creatives.

Whichever you prefer, we know you’ll fall in love. Check out all Palomino on EuropeanPaper.com here.