Blackwing 602

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The Blackwing 602 is a discontinued model of pencil that has developed a cult following [1] as "the best pencil ever made.".[2] It was produced by the Eberhard Faber company until 1998. Initially sold for 50 cents each, as of 2012 reproduction pencils, called the "Palomino Blackwing 602" and made by California Cedar, are available in packages of 12 for $20.

It was a very soft pencil with wax addition to the lead, and has been advertised as requiring only half of the usual physical effort to produce the marking. The wood was made from cedar. The pencil was used mainly by artists, writers and musicians, including Oscar winning animation director Chuck Jones, author John Steinbeck and record producer Quincy Jones. After the pencil was discontinued, these known writers (Joseph Finder,[3] Stephen Sondheim [3]) tried to convince Eberhard Faber to continue production or at least said some warm words about the tool they were used to. This likely popularized the pencil, creating its cult following.

While the company says that other pencils with similar leads are available, the devotees are convinced that there is no adequate substitution.[4]

The Blackwing used a special eraser ferrule, which required special clips that could only be manufactured by a custom-made machine. By the time Eberhard Faber was acquired by Faber-Castell in 1994, this machine was broken; however, a sufficient backstock of ferrule clips enabled Blackwing manufacture to continue until 1998.[5] At this point, the company ceased production on the Blackwing, claiming it was not commercially successful.[6]

Revival[edit]

In October 2010, Cal Cedar Pencil Company released the Palomino Blackwing,[7] a tribute to the original Eberhart Faber Blackwing 602. The pencil features a matte black finish, the iconic ferrule and replaceable eraser and a soft and smooth lead formulation. The pencil was widely acclaimed at the time of its release. Alex Beam of The Boston Globe called the Palomino Blackwing "better than an iPad,"[8] and Joyce Grant from Getting Kids Reading stated that "giving one to your kid will actually help his schoolwork.",[9] but some pencil enthusiasts felt the pencil strayed too far from the original Blackwing 602's design.

Thus, in June 2011, Cal Cedar and Pencils.com released the Palomino Blackwing 602,[10] a pencil that more closely resembles the original Blackwing 602. This pencil features a metallic grey finish, the unique ferrule and the iconic slogan "Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed" printed on the shaft. Just prior to the new Palomino Blackwing 602's launch, Alex Taylor of Fortune magazine examined the history leading up the launch in his article "The great Blackwing pencil brouhaha".[11] After its launch, the pencil was met with the same level of acclaim afforded to its predecessor. Mark Fraunfelder of Boing Boing declared the Palomino Blackwing 602 his "new pencil of choice".[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frauenfelder, Mark. Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 Pencil Fetish. Boing Boing web page. 11 May 2005 [1]
  2. ^ “L. Laughy Ninth Wave Designs” Flickr page [2]
  3. ^ a b Finder, Joseph. The Best Pencil in the World. Web blog. 3 December 2008. [3]
  4. ^ [4][dead link]
  5. ^ Pencil Pages - the Blackwing 602 - the Final Chapter
  6. ^ PencilTalk.org - the Blackwing 602
  7. ^ Pencils.com
  8. ^ YouTube
  9. ^ Getting Kids Reading
  10. ^ Pencils.com
  11. ^ Fortune Magazine
  12. ^ Boing Boing

External links[edit]