Blackwing pencils look gorgeous. But it’s what’s beneath the Blackwing’s sleek exterior that makes hearts beat fast in the creative community — a graphite core, fortified with a little wax. Seriously. Those Who Know swear by this pencil. It is, they say, “the best pencil ever made.”
You, not being a composer or graphic artist, have never heard of it.
Gather round, so you can get the point — an unavoidable pun — and tell others.
Eberhard Faber introduced the Blackwing pencil in the 1930s. Though it was expensive for its time, it became an instant sensation. The graphite stayed sharp, but not so sharp it ripped paper. Not only did the Blackwing deliver a soft, smooth writing experience, it fit comfortably in your hand. You didn’t have to push to write. It was as if the pencil knew what you wanted to say or draw — the ease was palpable. And when you finished writing, the page looked beautiful and important and authoritative.
John Steinbeck wrote with a Blackwing. Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Quincy Jones used Blackwings for scores. Chuck Jones drew cartoon figures with Blackwings.
How good are they? This good…
The pencils were expensive to make. In 1998, a crucial machine broke. Production was discontinued. Pencils that once sold for less than a dollar now commanded as much as $40 on eBay — each.
In 2001 the California Cedar Pencil Company learned that the Blackwing trademark had not been renewed. How crazy was that? The CEO of Cal Cedar saw an opportunity: “Pure and simple, Blackwing is a great and iconic name among serious pencil fans.”
In 2010 the new version went on sale — and fans jumped all over the Palomino Blackwing. Debate raged: Was the new version 100% authentic? The pencil won. That is, it was so much better than anything else that it seemed pointless to quibble.
Giving these as a present? Consider the Blackwing Pencil Collection: 12 Assorted Blackwings in a Gift Box. [To buy the gift box from Amazon, click here.]
Looking for the iconic pencil? Purists might choose a dozen pencils with black barrels. [To buy a box of a dozen black pencils from Amazon, click here.]
Would you put these pencils in a sharpener that has serviced other pencils? My Lord, no! The Blackwings demand their very own device. And they deserve no less. Sharpening your Blackwings is a two-step affair. The first hole sharpens the wood, the second sharpens the graphite — it’s a procrastinator’s dream. [To buy a dedicated Blackwing sharpener from Amazon, click here.]
And don’t forget the eraser. On the Blackwing, it’s adjustable and removable. Unless you’re the sort who does crossword puzzles without having to reconsider, you’ll want some. [To buy Blackwing erasers from Amazon, click here.]
The reader comments push the needle on five stars. Here’s a typical comment: “I know it’s a bit whack to call a pencil ‘amazing,’ but this thing is so smooth and flowing I find myself putting pens aside so I can write with it.” Sounds like a cult, doesn’t it? Well, you’re just one pencil away from joining it.
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler
Photo credit: Amazon