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The Blackwing Pencil


One pencil has the potential to draw a line 35 miles long and absorb 17 sharpenings. It will write an average of 45,000 words and delete its own errors. The pencil is one of the greatest technological inventions. It’s the original tech toy, and springboard for expressions of art, design & communication.

The pencil that is thought to be the pinnacle of this technology is the Ebarhard Faber Blackwing 602 (see picture above). “I have found a new kind of pencil—the best I have ever had......it is black and soft but doesn’t break off. I think I will always use these. They are called Blackwings and they really glide over the paper” (John Steinbeck). “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” was the Blackwing slogan. The unparalleled quality of the Blackwing’s graphite and replaceable eraser made it a favourite among authors and artists.

In 1998, the Blackwing line was discontinued. The official company reason was that the machine that produced the specialized ferrules that hold the eraser, broke. Since then demand for the Blackwing 602 has skyrocketed. Producer Faber-Castell was eventually bought by Sanford (Rubbermaid) and they seem to have no interest in the product. The line was dropped. The 602’s can be often found on ebay for up to $40 each.

California Cedar Products now has the rights to the Blackwing name, and have attempted to resurrect the legend. Their version of the Blackwing, called the “Palomino Blackwing” is now available at pencils.com. “The pure luxury of long beautiful pencils charges me with energy and invention”. (John Seinbeck)

The many advantages of the Blackwing are: it has a replacable and useful white eraser, beautiful smooth writing lead that does not break or chip when sharpened and a smooth buttery feel. I love them and go through a few boxes per year. If you want to try one let me know, I give them away all the time.

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