Saturday, June 11, 2011


Original Blackwing 602 / Palomino Blackwing 602
Just out, California Cedar's new entry into the find the perfect pencil quest - a re-inventing of the Blackwing 602.

For those of you joining our program already in progress, Eberhard Faber's Blackwing 602 woodclinched pencil topped the list of the perfect pencil (for those who don't mind a pencil not being round.)

In my search to reconnect with Black Velvet pencils, I read so much about the Blackwing, I had to give them a try.

Enter eBay, and yes, I will pay more money than a sane person would for a pencil.

Guess what? In that rarest occurrence, the hype was right. The Blackwing 602 is different. Your hand will tell the difference. Woe though, they not be round, they became my perfect pencil.

Smooth. Like writing with ice on glass.
Which is like hearing about the Titanic and booking a ticket for the next trip.

Yeah, they don't make these anymore either. (But they still can be had - for a while anyway - on eBay and places like that.)

So, the search for the perfect pencil was fini, right?

Google pencil reviews and get back to me. I'll wait.

California Cedar produced a pencil called the Palomino Blackwing, which was a nice pencil - made a nice black line but was softer than the original. They received so much feedback, they decided to take a second swing at it. (Soft and Smooth are different qualities.)

 It's too bad the Palomino Blackwing 602 will always be compared to the original Blackwing 602, because the Palomino version is a very nice pencil in its own right.

Slightly larger around, makes a dark line, not too soft, lovely lacquer (gun metal gray), serviceable eraser that is also not too soft (doesn't bother me that it's black) and it is so close in the smoothness feel to the writing hand -- well, how close is close enough?

 I did all the unscientific, in the wind testing. The Palomino version lays down a darker line than the Original, but the Original still feels smoother to my hand.

The real problem with the Original and both Remakes is that unique, problematic eraser assembly. It unbalances the pencil until the pencil is short enough to rest closer to the hand. (I've removed the eraser from a couple, replacing with the old school red pencil tops which takes care of that problem, but lessens the coolness factor by about a million.)

Does the quest continue?

I, for one, am ready to throw in the towel.

I'm just going to love them all.

6/15/11 Last night I took notes at a FEMA meeting with both. One thing Palomino has down pat is laying down a dark line. When the PBW602 first hit the paper, I thought, oh, this is smooth. The slightly larger circumference makes me not mind the hex. The point lasted longer than the Original, in this unscientific, fast scribbling notes at a meeting, test. Then I had to change to a Biro because I forgot my sharpener. oy.

So, there you have it. PBW602, a very nice pencil. The difference in the smoothest between it and the Original, while there, is negligible.

Oh, and I heard everything the FEMA guy said.  ; )


  1. Robert M.10:22 AM

    Thanks for posting this. I just ordered a box of PBW602s, and hope to see how they perform. The original PBWs were just too soft for me to give much use to.

    Do you think the finishing (lacquer, imprints) is a step up from the original PBW's?

    If you're interested in a round pencil, have you looked at the Ito-ya Romeo No. 3? It is advertised as HB, but I find it a bit closer to a Staedtler 2B (or perhaps a Tombow/Mitsubishi B), is round, and has an integral eraser (though I did not care for the eraser). I got some through Bundoki ( and latter offers Hi-Uni pencils in a paper box too). I don't know if the lead is the same as the standard Ito-ya offerings, but it's a very nice overall writer.

  2. I'm glad to see a review of this PBW 602. Like you, I have started to remove the ferrule/eraser from PBWs to improve the balance; I generally have a Boxy eraser at hand. Can you imagine a run of PBWs with the same smooth endcap as the banded Palominos? The price could probably come down a little bit too, since the proprietary eraser assembly would be omitted.

    The gorgeous color and promise of increased core life are starting to get me very interested in the PBW 602s...

  3. Robert,

    Do you think the finishing (lacquer, imprints) is a step up from the original PBW's?

    I thought the first PBWs were beautiful in their black and gold box. I hadn't thought much about the lacquer until I read so many of the reviews mentioning that unfavorably. Palomino is known for that nice lacquer. Adding the similar imprint and slogan underlines the PBW602 is chasing the original when it is nice on its own.

    Thanks for the ROUND pencil suggestion. I'm looking for an online source. I recently tried the General's Layout and the Field Note pencil. Fine. Cheap. Nothing like the 602s.


    Glad I'm not the only one committing surgery on the 602s.

    Can you imagine a run of PBWs with the same smooth endcap as the banded Palominos?

    That would be nice. (Could they make them ROUND too?) :) Don't think it will happen though.

  4. Robert M.10:23 PM

    I was rather underwhelmed at the quality of the finish of the original PBWs, but I have no interest in comparing with the original Blackwings personally. If the new PBW602 can approach the finish quality of a normal Palomino or a premium pencil like a Hi-uni or Mono 100, or even a "good" non-premium pencil like the Mitsubishi 9800, I'll be happy.

    The Ito-ya Romeo No.3 is a pretty expensive premium Japanese pencil (in the same price range as the top-end Hi-uni and Mono 100), though Ito-ya also has a cheaper version that I've heard good things about. I hate to sound like an advertisement, but here are a few links: (Romeo No. 3 - can also buy singles at (cheaper Ito-ya pencil)

    I've done business with Mayumi at Bundoki a few times and it's quite hassle-free. Maybe grab up a few singles of the Romeo and some of the other quality Japanese pencils they sell.

  5. Robert,


    What a good idea to be able to buy pencils in singles.


  6. CMW, just got to read your review, for some reason I totally missed your link when I first read your comment on my review. :)

    I too love the idea of pencil singles and a ferrule free PBW 602.


Glad to hear from you!