Brand Spotlight: Blackwing

Possibly the most famous ‘high-end’ pencils on the market, the Blackwing has been used by Grammy, Emmy, Academy & Pulitzer Prize winners, including John Steinbeck, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, and Chuck Jones who created Bugs Bunny and many Looney Tunes characters using Blackwing pencils.

“I have found a new kind of pencil — the best I have ever had!”

John Steinbeck

‘Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed’. The Blackwing 602 was originally manufactured by the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company from 1934-1988. The company changed hands and was manufactured by Faber-Castell from 1988-1994 and changing hands again to become part of Sanford from 1994-1998. In 2011, Palomino/Cal Cedar was inspired to revive the brand. Early editions of the Eberhard Faber pencils can sell online for up to US$100 per pencil.

Today, Blackwings come in 4 general varieties, each a different hardness of graphite. They all feature the iconic ferrule design of the original Blackwing, and are made from Japanese graphite and Californian incense-cedar. Blackwings measure longer than typical pencils, over 20cm, so may not fit in the pencil case with the rest of your collection. Blackwing doesn’t use ‘standard’ grading (HB, B2, H2, etc.) for their pencils. Each pencil has its own unique blend of graphite.

  • Blackwing Black Matte – Soft Graphite, Black Pencil, Black Eraser. The softest and darkest of Blackwing graphite closely resembles 3B lead.
  • Blackwing Pearl – Balanced Graphite, White Pencil, White Eraser. Graphite falls between soft and firm
  • Blackwing 602 – Firm Graphite, Grey Pencil, Pink Eraser—the ‘Original’. Ideal for writing, it is smoother than a typical writing pencil and is most similar to B lead.
  • Blackwing Natural – Extra Firm Graphite, Natural Finish Pencil, Grey Eraser. The hardest of the graphite varieties.

For a full history of the Blackwing 602, visit this page from the Blackwing Pages.

writing sample

A portion of every Blackwing purchase goes to the Blackwing Foundation and its mission to support music and arts programs in public schools.

Blackwing Volumes

In 2015, Blackwing introduced the Volumes series, a limited edition pencil released each quarter celebrating the people, places and events that have defined our creative culture. Blackwing has paid tribute to everything from John Steinbeck’s writing ritual to Ada Lovelace’s contribution to computer science. A summary of Blackwing Volumes is presented here.

Pencil Image Volume Edition Graphite Core Released
Volume 2 XX Firm December 2023
Volume 17 Balanced September 2023
Volume 57 Soft June 2023
Volume 20 Firm March 2023
Volume 192 Extra Firm December 2022
Volume 7 Balanced September 2022
Volume 55 Balanced June 2022
Volume 200 Firm March 2022
Volume 93 Soft December 2021
Volume 651 Extra Firm October 2021
Volume 64 Firm June 2021
Volume 223 Balanced March 2021
Volume 6 Soft November 2020
Volume XIX Firm August 2020
Volume 3 Extra Firm June 2020
Volume 840 Balanced March 2020
Volume 155 Soft November 2019
Volume 42 Balanced August 2019
Volume 10 Extra Firm June 2019
Volume 811 Firm March 2019
Volume 4 Soft December 2018
Volume 33 1/3 Balanced September 2018
Volume 10001 Firm June 2018
Volume 54 Extra Firm March 2018
Volume 16.2 Firm December 2017
Volume 1 Balanced September 2017
Volume 73 Soft June 2017
Volume 205 Firm March 2017
Volume 530 Extra Firm December 2016
Volume 344 Firm September 2016
Volume 56 Firm July 2016
Volume 24 Firm (unique blend) March 2016
Volume 1138 Soft December 2015
Volume 211 Firm September 2015
Volume 725 Balanced June 2015