Blackwing 602

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Fourth Generation Blackwing 602

The Blackwing 602 is a pencil that is noted for its soft, dark graphite, unique flat square ferrule and replaceable eraser. It was manufactured by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company from 1934 - 1988, then by the Faber-Castell pencil company from 1988 - 1994 and by Sanford from 1994 - 1998.[1] The pencil initially sold for 50 cents each. After it was discontinued single original pencils were found on eBay for over $40, with some older (and rarer) ones being sold for over $100. Originals are becoming increasingly rare. However, as of 2012 a pencil under the same name is again being manufactured by Palomino [2] and is available in packages of 12 for about $20.


1934 - 1998[edit]

The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company began production of the Blackwing 602 pencil in 1934.[3] Stamped on the side, opposite the brand mark, was the slogan "Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed". This claim was meant to appeal to stenographers, as the 602 possessed the unique softness and smoothness of a 3B/4B lead but with the rate-of-wear of an HB,[4] however the 602 quickly evolved from an office tool to that of the artist.[5] Among these were animators Chuck Jones[6] and Don Bluth,[7] authors John Steinbeck[8] and E.B. White ,[9] composers Aaron Copland,[10]Leonard Bernstein,[11]John Williams[12], Stephen Sondheim,[13]Nelson Riddle[14] and Quincy Jones,[15] playwrights Eugene O'Neill [16] and Arthur Laurents,[17] the filmmaker Todd Field,[18][19] and the poet Archibald MacLeish.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

During the time the pencil was still unavailable, individual Blackwing 602 pencils regularly commanded $40 or more on auction sites like eBay.[22]


Palomino Blackwing 602

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 worried over the decision to change the pencil's eraser color,[22] Stephen Sondheim described the Palomino Blackwing 602 as "new and improved."[23]

A portion of all Blackwing 602 pencils sold benefits the Blackwing Foundation, which was established to support music and artist education in schools.[24]


  1. ^ Ward, James. The Perfection of the Paper Clip: Curious Tales of Invention, Accidental Genius, and Stationery Obsession. Page 99. April 21, 2015.
  2. ^ Gardner, Ralph Jr. Ode to the Write Stuff. The Wall Street Journal. July 21, 2014.
  3. ^ United States Patent and Trademark Office
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Chuck Jones Official Website
  7. ^
  8. ^ Steinbeck, John. Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters. Page 34. Penguin, December 1, 1990
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "KUSC Interviews – Classical KUSC". Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Jones, Quincy. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones Crown/Archetype, April 23, 2002.
  16. ^'Neill%2BBlackwing%20pencil&f=false
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Brand Name Pencils - Blackwing 602 by Faber-Castell
  22. ^ a b c Taylor, Alex III. The Great Blackwing Pencil Brouhaha. May 19, 2011.
  23. ^ Sondheim, Stephen. Look, I Made a Hat. Page XIX. Alfred A. Knopf. 2011.
  24. ^ Blackwing Foundation Website

External links[edit]