It took us nearly two years to review the Palomino Blackwing 602, and we won’t waste time on this one. Cal Cedar bills this as the middle ground between the point retention of the Palomino Blackwing 602 and the darkness of the Palomino Blackwing 2010 design (which we will call the Blackwing Dark). How does it rate in real life, on paper?
We’ve talked enough about the eraser and ferrule of the Palomino Blackwing line. (See here.) The Pearl ships with a black eraser. I thought pink would look better, but the black eraser complements the black imprint pretty well. A silver imprint and ferrule and pink eraser would combine to look more like a pearl to me, but this pencil remains steadfastly un-aquatic In its current form. And that’s Okay by me.
The finish is, truly, pearlesque. It does not photograph accurately, the way that the tones of the 602 do not show themselves to a lens. (I can’t get them to, at any rate.) For some reason, the finish feels very different from the other two Palomino Blackwings — and most other pencils. It is certainly not rubbery like the Dixon Tri-Conderoga. It is not tacky. But there’s something almost…soft or….grippy about it. I really enjoy holding it. Combined with the soft lead and thicker (Japanese) diameter, it’s a pleasure to write with. The printing is sharp and precise and has stayed put (unlike the 602, which seems to prefer to shed its clothing). I like the minimal marking. All of the dozen I ordered have ferrules which line up with the printed side, save one. All are straight and solidly attached, with well-centered leads.
While the Pearl does not smell…chemically like the Blackwing Dark does out of the box, the cedar has disappointingly little aroma. It does sharpen perfectly though, and I’ve found that I like my Granate the best for this job.
The lead itself is why we’re here, no? This is supposed to fit between Palomino’s other Blackwings. I found the 2010 Palomino Blackwing Dark to be incredibly smooth and dark, but I rarely use it for writing. Certainly, its dark lines lend themselves well to a pocket pencil, for writing down set-lists, play-lists and reading-lists. But there’s something a little too art-pencil-ish or even charcoal-looking about the lines when the point gets dull. After a sentence. The Palomino Blackwing 602 is much less dark and slightly less smooth than the Blackwing Dark. But the point retention, sharpness of the line and durability of the point (even a looooong one) usually keeps me reaching for that model more often than the Blackwing Dark if I am writing more than a few lines.
Where does the Blackwing Pearl fit?
At first, it felt closer to the Blackwing Dark to me. It is much darker than the Palomino Blackwing 602, and nearly as smooth as the Blackwing Dark. If the latter feels like writing with a stick of melting butter, the Pearl feels like writing with a very very smooth pencil.
Point retention, smearability and erasability are right in the middle of the Palomino Blackwing line. See image (click to enlarge it) for detailed smearing and erasing. Smearing is really not bad for such a dark and soft pencil. Erasbility is, like the Palomino Blackwing Dark, not very good. The included eraser does not fully erase marks made by either the Dark or the Pearl (not even the 602, I find). If erasing is what you like best about pencils, this one may disappoint you.
Oddly enough, ghosting is not bad at all. In the week I used it, the Blackwing Pearl didn’t ghost any more than a regular HB pencil. While erasiblity is not my favorite Character of the Pencil, ghosting does bug me to no end. I was very pleased with the Pearl.
I admit that I was apprehensive that this pencil would be white like an Apple product and a stop-gap between two nice pencils just to make another pencil. (Well, maybe I just thought I should think that.) But, as I understand it, Cal Cedar is not having trouble getting the Blackwing line out there. And, when using it, I really like this pencil. I think it might be my favorite in the Blackwing line, if that’s not some kind of heresy. I’ve used it for journaling and a little sketching, and Comrades here at Pencil Revolution HQ have already pilfered from my dozen. I enjoy this pencil enough to order another dozen straight away. If you found the 602 too light and the Dark too…un-pencil-like, this might be the pencil for you, if you’re looking to buy another box of Blackwings.