I did not know the original Palomino Blackwing pencil, but I could not miss the reverential and longing mentions of it around office supply circles, and I certainly couldn’t help noticing the adorational fanfare showered at its return, for the graphite savior of all that is wood-cased
walks writes among us again. Not that I could afford to bask in its presence—$20 ($19.95, if you want to be nitpickingly precise) is a bit steep of an entry price in my books, and twelve pencils is a lot to commit to, considering I don’t even know if I’ll like the thing. Luckily, Brad at JetPens kindly offered to let me sample a brand-new spare Blackwing 602 he had lying around, thus saving me from an eternity of wandering, lonely, in a Blackwingless world.
Fairly normal-looking pencil body on one end, bafflingly peculiar paintbrush-like eraser on the other end. We’ll break it down one piece at a time, starting with the body.
One side is stamped with the brand name and model.
And the other side is stamped with a slogan/promise. Notice on both that the gold lettering actually lines up with the stamping, unlike so many ten cent pencils of my youth. The extra money you’re paying is going toward making a higher quality product (rather than toward, say, Palomino’s champagne and cigar fund). And can we take a second to admire this paint job?
I didn’t know it was possible for something to be sparkly AND classy, but somehow they’ve managed it. This is some premium paint with a polished shine. And I believe that Office Supply Geek was right—it looks like there are two coats of paint on this pencil.
Now, I haven’t written with wooden pencils since probably about the time that Beanie Babies were popular and the Backstreet Boys were relevant. Pencils smudge, wooden pencils maliciously so—or so it always seemed to me. Having the side of your hand be totally silver after writing an essay is not as cool as you might think. So how does our Palomino Blackwing 602 stack up? Pretty well, I am surprised to admit, in spite of my pencil prejudice. In writing up this review by hand (with the Palomino Blackwing, of course), I’ve done almost 3 pages in a 6.5″ x 8.25″ Clairefontaine notebook, and though there is noticeable silvering on my hand, it’s not as much as I’d expect for lead this dark. And the lead itself is silky-smooth. None of the scratchiness you get from cheap leads (which, I presume, are riddled with little airholes which leave small sharp surfaces throughout the lead….but I could be making that up).
Saved the best for last—this absolutely odd eraser, which turns out to be an entire miniature block eraser. Just pull on those little curlicues, and out comes the eraser. You can extend it as it runs down, and replace it if it runs out.
Performance of the eraser is not 100% what I’d like—you can still see the ghost of what was written, especially if I wrote with a sharp edge or pressure. The plasticky, polymer erasers I have do a better job of erasing. It’d be nice if Palomino offered a polymer refill, but I might just grab an X-Acto knife and make one of my own.
As I mentioned in the written sample, even a pencil as nice as this one isn’t going to convince me to start back at being a pencil writer. And as sharp and snazzy as this number looks, it’s not invincible—I’ve already got some dings in the wood. But I like it for drawing; with lead this smooth, nice, and dark, it makes a great sketch pencil. Having to carry a sharpener around is a bit inconvenient, but not the end of the world.
If you like writing with pencils, you’ll probably love this pencil. If you like sketching, this is a good drawing pencil with a high capacity on-board eraser. If you’re not a pencil person, or just don’t care for wooden pencils, then save your $20. The cost is a little prohibitive, but the Palomino Blackwing 602 is a high quality pencil.
Thanks again to Brad for the sample!