Next up in my leaving work goody bag is a lovely box of Palomino Blackwing pencils and a long point sharpener. As the box came with twelve pencils, I would like to give one (plus some other goodies) to a lucky reader. Keep on reading to find out how you could win.
Believe it or not, but the Blackwing is a controversial pencil. From 1934 to 1998, the Eberhard Faber Company manufactured the Blackwing. When these pencils were introduced, long before ballpoint and other cheap pens were available, pencils were in their heyday. They were used daily by professionals such as draftsmen, engineers, and journalists, as well as students, so people noticed quality and found it in the Blackwing. They were known to write smoothly and keep their point. Their attractive hexagonal design with the clamp-like ferrule and matte black paint probably added to their appeal. Author John Steinbeck, animator Chuck Jones, composer Stephen Sondheim, and jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Wynton Marsalis are just a few of the well-known users of the original Blackwing pencils. So when the California Cedar Products Company acquired the Blackwing trademark and began manufacturing pencils modeled after the originals in 2010, some pencil aficionados that had stockpiled supplies of the originals cried foul. This kind of controversy is not unheard of in the stationery world. For example, moleskine notebooks were originally not a brand-name but a kind of traditional oilcloth binding for notebooks. This type of notebook was also very popular with famous artists and authors but couldn’t compete with cheaper, mass-produced notebooks. A company called Modo & Modo began producing Moleskine branded notebooks in 1997 but advertised them as if they were the same as those used by the greats. Of course, stationery products are not the only ones to try to capitalize on nostalgia. The Indian motorcycle brand is another one where a new company has branded their product with an old name.
I don’t have an original Blackwing to compare with so I am just judging it on how it works for me. This pencil does write smoothly however the large metal ferrule and eraser made it a bit top heavy, especially when I tried writing with it for a few pages in my journal. The pencil is longer than average (20 cm, including the eraser) so maybe as it gets shorter, and pencils always do, it will feel more balanced. The eraser did a fairly good job of erasing but I found the black crumb residue a bit messy. I think a regular white vinyl eraser would do a better and neater job. Interestingly, you can get replacement erasers in a variety of colours for the pencil if you use up pencil erasers faster than the pencil.
Along with the pencils, I got a special Palomino-KUM long point pencil sharpener. This pencil sharpener has two holes, not for different sizes of pencils, but to maximize the point. The first hole sharpens the wood and the smaller hole sharpens the graphite.
It came with two small replacement blades tucked into the end for when the blades become dulled. I like the opportunity to extend the life of the sharpener.
If this pencil was a person, it would be a celebrity, complete with idiosyncrasies and a fan club. Taller than average, they always wear black with some bling so you never mistake them for someone just as competent but with less fame.
Now for the prize. Personally, I love giveaways so I am offering one of my own. As well as a Palomino Blackwing pencil, I am giving away an assortment sample papers to try it out on including some Rhodia and Canson papers, Kyougi, Japanese stationery, and a penguin paperclip. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog before June 10. I will make a draw and contact the winner to get your address. Good luck!