18 Comments

  1. Thanks for this review. I am surprised to read that the pencil would have been released anyway, maybe under another name. This opens up the question whether it was modelled after the old Balckwing after all, or whether it just shares some characteristics and was therefore named Blackwing when the name became available..

  2. I assume it was modelled after the Blackwing at least a little from the start, because of the ferrule, if nothing else. Sanford’s machine was broken, and I imagine it must have been costly to design this ferrule from scratch. I can’t remember where I read the Pegasus mention from Woodchuck — maybe he can confirm? : )

  3. Interesting background, though the Pegasus name seems a little strange — I’d think of “Pegasus” as the name of an imaginary pencil.

    You note that “Any new Blackwing would not be made by the same company”: true in a way, but the Blackwing itself came out under different names — Eberhard Faber and Faber-Castell (I hope that hyphen is right). At any rate, fidelity to an original — in some way or ways — is important when we talk about this kind of object, as with, say, a modern recreation of an old guitar. The key question is whether one prizes the Blackwing as an object of use, as an object of design, or as both.

  4. Good points, Michael. The Eberhard Faber to Faber-Castell move was an acquisition pre-Sanford (?).

    I think you’re especially write (ha ha) about whether one views it as a tool or a thing to be looked at and admired. As a tool, I love it to pieces — even as a design object. As a reproduction, not so much — but I’m not especially interested in that part myself, not for its own sake.

  5. Matt

    As CalCedar has already shown with its Palomino line, a pencil can be both an amazing tool and an object of desire. I truly hope that after this initial run is sold (I bought a box), CalCedar will make its Palomino Blackwing as attractive as its Palomino HB. Gloss paint would be most appreciated, too ;)

    • Robert M.

      Seems that they wanted to avoid a gloss paint to differentiate from the Tombow Mono, which is rather ridiculous. It would take an idiot to confuse the two based on glossy black alone, and the decision to go with a thoroughly inferior finish to “distinguish” their product is laughable.

      I too hope that a better version is made in the future. I’m actually quite shocked that they could be known for their standard of finishing on the Palomino, and then completely screw the pooch with the Blackwing.

      Unfortunately, some of the gratitude consumers are giving to California Cedar for choosing to undertake the Blackwing project has been overextended and has become a sort of sycophancy and a reluctance toward offering criticism.

      • Matt

        Haha, well hopefully Chuck will retire this finish and make these ugly ducklings all the more rare and sought after by collectors.

  6. It seems like a lot of people are reacting very strongly to the release of the Blackwings — and especially to the test-phase in which some of us were lucky enough to participate. It’s run from excessive criticism over the differences in aesthetic design (the departure from the look of the original) to messianic paroxysms about the new Blackwing being the best pencil ever just because it shares the name. While this might change now that they are available for purchase, a good deal of the strongly positive and strongly negative reactions have come from individuals who never wrote with the new Blackwing at all. I’m not ready to dismiss the new Blackwing because it looks little like the old one, and I’m not prepared to sell all of my pencils in its favor just because of the name, either.

    Personally, I’m interested in the Blackwing as a pencil with which I can write, not as a reconstitution of a museum piece or even an exciting new consumer product. For myself: a) Dang, that’s a smooth writer!; b) The finish is sub-par (Palomino-wise), but the price is surprisingly low, especially in bulk — so I’m less bothered by it than I’d be if it was really a $5 pencil; c) I’m just happy to see excitement about a new pencil these days!

    It was different with the Palomino back in 2005 because no one had heard of California Republic or the now-kinda-famous orange pencil. The feedback was probably more honest because no one had anything classic/legendary against which to compare it — though certainly there were a lot of comparisons to the old Blackwing 602. This time, comparisons are inevitable, and inevitably unfair (for and against the new Blackwing). I hope that its merits and faults (the lead and the finish, respectively) get highlighted as much as the name. I’d hate for a nice-writing pencil to be dismissed because it looks differently than its inspiration, but neither does a pencil deserve admiration simply by virtue of the name on the side. I am a little disappointed in the finish (which I mentioned in our pre-review), but the writing is so smooth and dark that I don’t mind it so much.

    • Robert M.

      Many of us who criticize the finish and aesthetics are not doing so based on the original Blackwing (though those people apparently exist, such as those wanting the old slogan and what-not), but simply because they have higher standards for the aesthetic element of the pencil in general. My comments, for instance, have pretty much nothing to do with the original Blackwing, and I couldn’t care less if they scrapped the ferrule and eraser as well, as long as what they produced was thoroughly high-quality.

      I do not see how the price is “surprisingly low”, and I do not know where a $5 projection would come from. If we want to throw out random numbers, would you pay $0.05 more for a Blackwing finished at a level comparable to a Palomino?

      I wonder if their later Palomino 4B offering will be at all related to the Blackwing in terms of lead, or if it’ll be a different formula altogether. If willing to put up with the Palomino colors, it might be a way for some to get their Blackwing graphite fix without having to put up with the rest of the Blackwing.

      • I didn’t mean to imply that you were among those unsatisfied with the “new” Blackwing because it’s not the old, Robert. :)

        I think the price is [somewhat] low considering what Cal Rep’s other offerings cost that don’t have the expensive ferrule on them (Woodchuck wrote about this somewhere). I like the writing enough that the finish would only bother me if I paid more for the pencil. At $2 per pencil, for instance, I’d be more unhappy with the mottled finish. I wouldn’t pay $5 for any pencil I’ve ever tried (though there might be one out there?). I was, as you point out, merely picking a figure.
        Matte vs gloss, I actually like the matte myself because I have sweaty hands. I was glad that the Black Warrior switched. This finish is like the old (USA made) Dixon “Black,” which was (and almost is) a really nice pencil. I’m with you, however, in that the ferrule’s not the ticket for me. I like the lead first and foremost. A nice end like the Palomino would suit me just fine if the lead stayed the same.

  7. Bob

    I received my Blackwings. They write well and great for art also. They don’t cost anymore than my high quality art pencils. The finish quality isn’t microscopic perfect but I believe they will get better.
    They also work well in my Moleskine Notebook. No complaints.
    I also hand sharpen them with a pen knife. I’m not concerned about keeping a sharp point for writing.
    As I’ve posted elsewhere, when the pencil becomes too short to hold the ferrule will be cut off; split the wood and cut it away. The extra lead will be used in my art lead holder.

  8. Joan Diebold

    I have been looking for this pencil or rather the original blue 602 for years. My father used them. I loved them. We always had a gross. I never checked the internet before. I just asked in stores like Office Supply and I didn’t know the named I could just describe it. Nobody ever knew what I was talking about. Now they don’t exist so I will try the new one. I am very excited.

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