Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

Palomino Blackwing Pencil

The Palomino Blackwing is a very popular general-use wooden pencil. Its original form, which stopped being made in the 1990s, is considered by many to be the best pencil ever made.

Palomino Blackwing pencils are a boutique brand of pencils that were made in the USA but are now manufactured in Japan. In their current form they have been around since 2012 and have become a favorite among artists, students, and those who love writing with pencils. If you had to name one candidate it for the best pencil ever made and still sold today, this might be the most popular choice thanks to its long history and consistent quality.

The original Blackwing, which is no longer manufactured, was produced from 1934 to 1998 by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company. The pencils can often be found on Ebay and other used marketplaces but sell at a significant premium relatively to their original pricing — between $50 and $75 per pencil is the going rate in 2021.

The Palomino Blackwing pencils are considered to be a premium brand of pencils. They are higherend pencils that dont come cheap and are sold both in standard models and limited editions, known as “Volumes.” They are made of cedar wood, have a hexagonal shape, and have a removable eraser that sits inside a clip.

Blackwing are sold in packs of 12 pencils. Some of these packs are “Blackwing Editions” which are numbered, limited editions which are mainly sold to subscribers. Difference versions will vary by the paint on the wooden body, the color of the eraser, and the color of the ferrule that hold the eraser. The company has not changed anything else, like pencil shape, lead color, eraser style, etc.

Palomino Blackwing Or Blackwing?

While the “Palomino Blackwing 602” was the name when the pencil was first introduced, it has since been rebranded as simply the “Blackwing 602.”

The Palomino brand pencils still exists and are still manufactured and sold, but the Blackwing brand has been removed from the Palomino family. PalominoBrands.com, which used to be the home of the Blackwing, now has a message stating that the  new home of the pencil is “Blackwing602.com”.

Blackwing Models

If the naming wasn’t confusing enough, it’s worth understanding that the 602 isn’t the only Blackwing pencil. There are limited editions, but there are standard models as well. The models include:

  • 602: Standard pencil in dark grey
  • Matte: Matte black finish
  • Natural: Laquered wood with visible grain
  • Pearl: Pearlescent white finish

Who Makes The Blackwing?

The pencils are made by a company by the name of California Cedar Products. This company, who operates Pencils.com, purchased the Blackwing name from Eberhard Faber in 2008. The new pencil has a difference lead formula but is the successor to the original Blackwing both in name and spirit.

California Cedar Products had a line of “Palomino” pencils, to which it added the Blackwing 602 in 2012.

The first maker of the Blackwing was Eberhard Faber. This company was eventually purchased by Faber Castell USA, who continued the Blackwing production under their name from 1988 to 1994. Faber Castell was bought by Sanford in 1994 and resumed the “Eberhard Faber” naming on the Blackwing pencils.

What Makes The Blackwing Special?

Many people ask this as it’s a little confusing that so many people are so in love with this particular pencil. It’s hard to narrow down exactly why people love the Blackwing 602 so much, but here are some things that come to mind…

  • Classic styling with very clean design
  • Long history, with many famous users like Quincy Jones and Truman Capote
  • Unique ferrule design with a extendable, replaceable erasers
  • Softer than normal lead, which people might not realize other companies also do

What Is the Hardness Of The Blackwing?

You might have noticed that the Blackwing pencils do not have a lead hardness associated with them — there is no HB, F, 2B, or anything like that written on the side.

  • Natural: HB
  • 602: B
  • Pearl: 2B
  • Matte: 4B

The lead hardness varies with each model, not just the aesthetics of the pencils. The softest is the Matte, followed by the Pearl, 602, and then the Natural is the hardest.

These are just approximations at the leadness based on those from a standard, reliable pencil graphite, like the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni.

Many people ask, is the Blackwing a number 2 (#2) pencil? The answer is no, the Blackwing 602 is a good deal softer than an #2 pencil. Where a number 2 pencil is close to the HB hardness, a Blackwing 602 is more like a B, which is to say it’s softer and darker.

The Blackwing Natural is a closer match to being a number 2, even though isn’t officially a number 2 and might not be ideal for use with standardized tests.

Palomino Blackwing Pencil Information

Street Price Check Price
Manufacturer Palomino
Pencil ModelsPearl, 602, Pack of 12
Barrel ColorWhite, Black, Gray
Barrel MaterialWood
Body Diameter (mm) 7.8
Grip Color
Grip Material Wood
Knurled Grip? No
Grip Diameter (mm) 7.8
Body Shape
Lead GradesHB
Capped or Retractable
Lead Color Graphite
Lead Size (Diameter)
Similar To:
Eraser Refillable?Yes
Clip MaterialNone
Body Length20.1
Pipe Retractable?Yes
Cleaning Rod?No