Review of California Republic Palomino.

About a month ago, I tried a pencil that I had not seen before and with whose brand I was unfamiliar. It came in a hard plastic box, with five others like it. The paint looked so thick and perfect that I almost didn’t want to open the box. Ever since I did, some other pencils that I used to love seem poor and have fallen by the wayside.

Before I gush more, the technical information:
Shape: Hexagonal.
Finish: Extremely thick, highly pigmented lacquer.
End cap: Matching cap with a gold band perpendicular to the pencil core.
Core: HB (#2) graphite.
Markings: Gold Foil. “California Republic PALOMINO”
Packaging: Half-dozen, hard plastic clear packages.
Origin: Premium quality California Incense Cedar; manufactured in Japan by a highly-respected pencil maker.
Availability: In the US, only through the Pencil World Creativity Store presently.

The first thing that you will notice about the Palomino is the finish. The lacquer is so thick that you can see the multiple layers around the sharpened end where the painted wood and naked wood meet. The color intensity and smoothness equal those of a brand new Mustang. To boot, it’s a durable finish. Rattling around in a wooden pencil box with two metal sharpeners and some German pencils, it shows no marks at all, while some of the other pencils are scratched up from the sharpeners. The paint is thick, buttery and flawless.

Next, you might notice the smell. Yup, that’s premium quality Incense Cedar, the finest grade of the finest pencil wood you are going to find. Period.

Maybe the nicely shaped factory sharpening is not to your liking. Maybe you want a longer or shorter point. Sharpening is a breeze, because premium cedar means the straightest grain, for one thing. But be careful not to melt away your precious pencil! I never sharpen these with anything whose blade I can’t carefully see, lest I sharpen away these treasures.

Writing with this pencil would convert a hard-core pen user. My wife uses gel pens often, and she remarked that the Palomino was as smooth to use as a pen, even a gel pen. The line this pencil produces glides onto the paper like cake icing. Smearing is totally non-existent, but erasing is still easy and complete. While the core is already in a class by itself, the darkness of the line is the real pinnacle of the core, and it matches the intensity of the lacquer. I wrote a note to myself recently with one of these pencils, and I mistook it for ink, from the density of the lines. In fact, the cores are soft enough and dark enough to do some sketching with them, even if you are accustomed to a softer lead than HB. I rarely ever use anything harder than a 4B, but sketching is possible with the HB Palomino. (See Palomino sketches here and here.)

The lack of eraser might discourage some American users, but the perfectly rounded end cap more than makes up for having to carry a separate eraser. And you can easily chew on it, if you are a recent pen convert and new to the Revolution.

The only downside of this pencil was the non-availability of it in the United States.

So we are extremely pleased to herald the opening of the Pencil World Creativity Store! From the people who brought us the Forest Choice pencil, we have the line of California Republic Stationers. I have been wanting to review these fine pencils for a few weeks now, but I could not do it in good conscience without knowing that the good people of the Revolution could get their hands on some of these wonderful instruments. How exceptional the Palomino pencils are is good enough news — that some people still care about making quality pencils.

The equally good news is that the People can purchase the Palominos online, along with other pencils in the California Republic line, such as the extremely choice Golden Bear and artist quality colored pencils. We plan on reviewing the other California Republic products in the future.

And we would be very very happy to hear what folks who try the Palominos think.

38 Comments

  1. frank c.

    The Palominos arrived in the mail yesterday. They’re great looking, and more importantly, they’re great writers. I now have a new favorite pencil, replacing the Faber-Castell Grip. It also comes close to the Blackwing, something that I never thought I would hear myself say.

  2. shriv

    i just got my Palominos yesterday and I’m totally in love with them. The lead is dark and wonderfully smooth. My only qualm is that i will have to continually buy a new batch every few months at the rate that I’m using them!
    Also kudos to pencilthings for I recieved them within a week of ordering. Being an international shipment, i was fully expecting them only after 3 weeks..

  3. Kevin

    Just ordered my second batch from Pencil Things. I also use the Dixon pencil top erasers, which I think are better than erasers that are usually crimped onto pencil ends. The pencil top erasers are about $.08 each in quantities of 12.

    Love the pencils!

  4. Carl L. Williams

    I love pencils and I’m constantly on the search for new additions.While I was shopping recently in a bookstore, I noticed the “red” Palomino on display. I had heard of that brand, and out of curiousity I purchased a pack of six.
    I’m hooked on it, and will place an order for more. The lack of an eraser is a small drawback, but this pencil’s other stellar qualities more than compensates for this–“flaw” ?

  5. John

    The palominos are nice writers and have a nice look for sure. My only negative and it is a strong oneis that they are not triangular. I don’t want the golden bear or another substitue. Is california republic thinking about making a TRAINGULAR palomino? Does anyone know.
    John

  6. Tom Norton

    I am not sure this is the place to ask, but could someone explain how pencils are sharpened at the factory and whether there is a way to replicate tht point at home?

  7. Thanks for the review! I purchased 5 packs of the 2B Palominos.

    (NOTE: I looked and looked for a 2B 6-Pack but noticed the darkest they had was the HB in that kind of pack. To others who are looking for the darker grades, scroll on down for the “Variety Pack”. There you can specify what grade you’d like.)

  8. Sabari

    I liked these pencils after reading the review. But it is a distant dream for people like me living in a remote part of South India. Leave alone whether ebay ships to India..whether we can buy from this part of the world itself is a question!!

  9. Richard

    I remembered when I was in school we used pencils that were of a much finer grade than any “store-bought” pencil. They were “Mainco 57 pencils” produced outside of Boston, MA. Unfortunately, the company went out of business in the early 80’s. I am not a pencil conosseur, but I would like to hear from anybody able to objectively compare writing with a Palomino verses, let’s say a Dixon Ticonderoga.

  10. barbie

    Ii just ordered my first pack of Palomino’s after reading your review. i’m left-handed and am looking for a dark line w/out too much smudging. i’m so excited about these pencils and i absolutely ADORE this blog! i feel at home here…i can read about pencils and writing implements w/my head held high! thanks for the super reviews.

  11. PackDude

    I just got my first pack of HB blue Palominos from PencilThings.Com today. I had discovered their wonderful online store this Sunday, and ordered a rather large assortment of woodcase pencils. This order included Tombow Mono HB, Golden Bear, Helix Oxford, Forest Choice, Lyra Osiris, Musgraves, and several colors of Mongol. I had no idea there were still so many varieties of woodcases being manufactured. I figured the mechanical pencil and/or pen had killed them off by now.

    I had already switched to using mechanical pencils (instead of pens) at work two or three years ago. I have very recently become “re-interested” in the good ol’ woodcase pencil. You see, when I was 19 or 20, I used to by Dixon Ticonderoga #2’s by the gross at Costco, when they still sold them. I don’t know why I stopped using them, to tell the truth.

    I was directed to Pencil Revolution from a link on the PencilThings website, and am very glad I found this blog. I also like the one at PencilTalk.Org a lot. Who would have thought there were so many fellow pencil nerds out there in the world!

    After reading the PRev review of the Palomino, I was a bit skeptical that a pencil could be so good. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the fortune of using a Blackwing, so I have no way to compare them. I guess I’ve led a pencil quality deprived life up until now.

    But I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised when I laid the Palomino’s freshly sharpened point to my Miquelrius notebook. It really does “glide on the paper like cake icing!” And the luxurious paint job and well-fitted ferrule are added bonuses.

    I found Woodchuck’s eBay store and ordered a couple packs of Palomino 2B’s — cannot wait to try those out. I bet they are even smoother than these HB’s.

    Excellent job on these Palominos, Woodchuck!!! And thanks a million Pencil Revolution!

  12. Anne K.

    After trying the Palomino, there is no going back! It’s the best pencil I’ve ever used. Thanks so much for the review.

  13. Sheila

    Just wondering… how would you compare Palomino to Sanford Turquoise? I’m wondering which one I should buy, since Turquoise is advertised as an art pencil…

  14. Thanks to this site I’ve purchased a good number of Palominos, and at first I was similarly mesmerized by their smoothness. But now, after more than a year of use (and in the midst of an economic downturn), I’ve concluded that they’re just not practical for my purposes of writing and editing. They’re too expensive and they’re too soft: They don’t hold their point long enough. If you’re interested in keeping them sharp, you’re going to go through one a day. Once this current batch is gone, I’m through with Palominos.

  15. LA

    I have just recently put down my fountain pen and switched to the other end of the spectrum: wood-cased pencil. I felt a need to get back to basics, beyond even the fountain pen. First I switched at work, and now I have switched at home as well, particularly in my journal writing.
    I am excited because up until a few weeks ago all I had were some dumpy cheap foil-design pencils I bought from my local grocery store…happened to find pencils.com today and ended up ordering a set of Forest Choice and the multi-lead 6 pc Palomino set. I can’t WAIT to try the Palominos particularly… I feel that while writing with pencil you get to ‘feel’ what you’re writing a lot more than with ink.
    I’ll be back to comment once I’ve received the goodies!

  16. Bob

    Received your pencils here in Scotland yesterday and have already enjoyed lots of pleasure using them. Great product. Continued success to you.

  17. Mark Greenwell

    Love my blue Palamino’s! Still have several short pencils from a gift of 2 dozen 18 months ago. I bought a dozen of the aclaimed Blackwings and the Palamino’s in my mind come out ahead. I prefer a lighter lead than the soft, dark Blackwing. THe “Carolina Blue” color is gorgeous. Another plus is the traditional eraser and ferrule of the Palamino, over the unusual longer eraser system of the Blackwing – they just didn’t fit in my storage box without sawing off about 1/2 inch. Thank you for THE WORLD’S GREATESTPENCIL – THE PALAMINO!

  18. Daniel

    I really like this blog! After many years of fountain pen using and collecting, I’ve gotten back to writing with woodcase pencils, thanks to blogs like yours. Which is why I placed an order with Pencils.com for a dozen Blackwing 602’s and, as General’s products aren’t readily available in Canada, I also decided to get a pack of Semi-Hex no.2 pencils. For good measure, I got some 2b Prospectors and Orange Golden Bears.
    Just got the package and I must say the General’s and the Blackwings are great. However, my order was so poorly packed (unpadded large envelope, items just thrown in there quite carelessly) the GB and the Prospectors, which are only held together with a paper band and stored in ziplock bags, where filthy with graphite dust, from point to erasers, and as they were pre-sharpened (contrary to the photos on the pencils.com site), 2 from each pack had broken points. The envelope itself shows no sign of having been brutally treated and the boxed pencils are fine, so there’s no blaming the postman. True, they are entry level pencils, but that should not matter.
    What a disappointment! For a company which seems to pride itself on offering quality pencils, what a let down. I just finished writing them an email and I’ll wait for their response. In the meantime, I will not be ordering from them.

  19. Daniel

    This is an update and quite a happy one. I sent an email to Pencils.com and got a quick reply from them. It seems they are going through a few problems, as the conpany is growing, which is very good news for pencil users… Their Blackwings are very nice writing instruments and I can only hope to see them develop other such product lines in the future. Some of the staff in the shipping department are in training, which explains the problem I encountered. They’ve assured me the problems I’ve identified are being corrected and they’ve shipped me two packs of the damaged pencils, which I expect any day now.
    Any company who responds to a customer within 24 hours (and on a Saturday!) and agrees to work quickly to resolve an issue is a good one, and quite a rarity in this day and age.
    They will definitely be getting more of my business. Needless to say, I am quite pleased.

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