Palomino Blackwing Pencil Review
What is it? Well, it’s probably one of the most famous pencils out there. They’re made of genuine incense cedar, feature a matte black body, and a large golden ferrule with a replaceable eraser. You can pick them up on Amazon for around 2 bucks per pencil. Yes, pencils can be famous…this is one of them. It’s been cited by John Steinbeck as his favorite pencil, bringing a lot of attention to the brand. Read on to see how it’s held up in the hands of a fountain pen fan…
Notes: You hear a lot about this pencil, people love the brand, they release special limited editions, and there’s an “aura” around it that people are drawn to. The only reason I bought one was to see what the big deal was. The classic Blackwing is a nice looking pencil featuring a matte black body and a large, golden ferrule that you can even replace the eraser in. Initially, I found the pencil to be quite long and slightly off-balance. After some use (and sharpening) the pencil became easier and more comfortable to write with. The Blackwing pencil even has its own motto – “twice the speed, half the pressure” – which for the most part, I agree with. It’s very smooth, produces a nice dark line, and I can see how other pencils are “slower”. Rougher leads just lead to a less smooth experience overall, which does give the impression of writing slower.
There’s one glaring issue for me, and that’s the point retention / lead hardness. Since the lead is so soft (what makes it so smooth and dark), you need to constantly rotate the pencil to keep a crisp line. You can see a huge difference in the writing sample between the beginning and even the middle of the page. A harder lead will solve this problem, but those tend to produce a lighter line. To me, finding the right pencil is all about finding the right balance of hardness and darkness of the line. When the pencil is sharp, it’s great, but unfortunately that isn’t for a very long time.
Overall, the Palomino Blackwing is an okay pencil. It does write nice and dark, and super smooth. Unfortunately for me, that writing experience is a fleeting moment, as the line produced quickly becomes wider and significantly less crisp. There is light at the end of the tunnel, as Palomino makes a Blackwing Pearl. I’ve recently picked up one of these , so expect a review shortly! If you’ve been looking to add a premium pencil to your collection, and prefer a soft lead, definitely consider picking up some Palomino Blackwings!
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5 thoughts on “Palomino Blackwing Pencil Review”
You didn’t mention the special sharpener which all part of the ritual and the sense of being in the know which is very much part of the mystique of the brand – which I love.
Not sure I know about this sharpener…Fill me in?
While this reproduction Blackwing is great, it’s really meant for sketching due to its softness. Palomino also makes a fitting tribute to the legendary 602, conveniently called the Palomino Blackwing 602. This is the pencil Steinbeck would have loved, it’s much better for writing, has great point retention and writes a dark, smooth line. It’s truly excellent, I consider it among the great pencils currently being produced, including the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and the Tombow Mono 100. I encourage you to try it.
I have a Hi-Uni and a Tombow Mono, both of which I prefer over this pencil. The Blackwing Pearl is a pretty good compromise for me, not too soft, but dark enough. When I checked out the 602, it seemed a little too light for my taste. Last time I was at CW Pencils in NYC I picked up an Apsara Absolute, I think it may be my favorite pencil ever.
The Absolute is a really nice pencil – if you buy them in the manufacturer’s boxes of 10, they come with a mediocre eraser, and a surprisingly good long point sharpener.