Blackwing 602

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The Blackwing 602 is a pencil currently manufactured by Palomino.[1] It is noted for its soft, dark graphite, unique flat square ferrule and replaceable eraser. The pencil was manufactured by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company from 1934 - 1988, by the Faber-Castell pencil company from 1988 - 1994 and by Sanford from 1994 - 1998.[2] The pencil initially sold for 50 cents each; as of 2012 the Palomino Blacking 602 are available in packages of 12 for about $20. Single original pencils can be found on eBay for over $50, with some older (and rarer) ones being sold for over $100. Originals are becoming increasingly rare, as they are still being occasionally consumed without new ones being produced, making them more scarce as time goes on.

It was a very soft pencil with wax added 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 some writers, such as Joseph Finder[3] and Stephen Sondheim,[3] tried to convince Eberhard Faber to continue production; or they at least said some warm words about the tool they were used to. This likely popularized the pencil, creating its cult following.


1934 - 1998[edit]

The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company began production of the Blackwing 602 pencil in 1934.[4] Each pencil features the slogan "Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed" stamped on the pencil side opposite the brand mark.

The pencil was used by many famous artists, writers and musicians, including Oscar-winning animation director Chuck Jones,[5] Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck[6] and record producer Quincy Jones[7]

In 1988, Eberhard Faber was acquired by Faber-Castell, who rebranded the pencil as the Faber-Castell Blackwing 602. In 1994, Faber-Castell was acquired by the Sanford division of Newell Rubbermaid, who reverted the pencil back to its Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 branding.[8]

During this same period, the machine used to produce the metal clip in the pencil’s unique ferrule and eraser system broke. At this time, Sanford was manufacturing roughly 1,100 gross of Blackwing 602 pencils a year. Because the volume was so low, the decision was made to cease production and sell through the remaining stock. The Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 was officially discontinued in 1998.[9]

While it was out of production, individual Blackwing 602 pencils regularly commanded $40 or more on auction sites like eBay.[9]


In 2008, California Cedar Products Company acquired the Blackwing pencil brand and reintroduced the Blackwing 602 pencil under its Palomino division in June 2011. It was launched exclusively on, but has since been distributed to retailers around the world.

While some pencil enthusiasts did not like the decision to change the pencil's eraser color.[9] Award-winning composer and noted Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602 fan Stephen Sondheim called the Palomino Blackwing 602 "new and improved."[10]

A portion of all Blackwing 602 pencils sold benefits the Blackwing Foundation, which was established to support music and artist education in schools.[11]


  1. ^ Gardner, Ralph Jr. Ode to the Write Stuff. The Wall Street Journal. July 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Ward, James. The Perfection of the Paper Clip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession. Page 99. April 21, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Finder, Joseph. The Best Pencil in the World. Web blog. 3 December 2008. [1]
  4. ^ United States Patent and Trademark Office
  5. ^ Chuck Jones Official Website
  6. ^ Steinbeck, John. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters. Page 34. Penguin, December 1, 1990.,
  7. ^ Jones, Quincy. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones Crown/Archetype, April 23, 2002.
  8. ^ Brand Name Pencils - Blackwing 602 by Faber-Castell
  9. ^ a b c Taylor, Alex III. The Great Blackwing Pencil Brouhaha. May 19, 2011.
  10. ^ Sondheim, Stephen. Look, I Made a Hat. Page XIX. Alfred A. Knopf. 2011.
  11. ^ Blackwing Foundation Website

External links[edit]