New Palomino Pencil Finish.

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A few weeks ago, Pencils.com sent out an email unveiling the new Palomino. I bought a dozen of the orange HB Palominos as a gift only a few weeks before that, and I noticed that the imprint had been cut down to just the word “Palomino” and the grade. “California Republic Stationers” was gone. I was disappointed and went home and counted all of the orange HB Palominos in The Archive. I wished I’d saved some more, especially the blue end-dipped, which is one of my very favorite pencils ever.

I ordered a set of the mixed new grade Palominos, to compare them with the mixed grade pack I received for my birthday in August 2012. I ordered them Monday, and they came today, all of the way to Baltimore on the $1.70 shipping. Excellent.

The new Palomino is, finish-wise, more different than folks let on. But it’s the same ride under the, er, saddle. I thought I’d report on it here, in magical list of ten that I jotted down on a Rhodia pad tonight.

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1) I sharpened all seven grades with the same sharpener and tried them out on Rhodia paper. Good news: I cannot distinguish between the cores of the new and cores of the old.

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2) The orange is a bit different. I was seconded and thirded in blind tests at HQ, indicating that I am correct: the new color is ever-so-slightly less red. But I have noticed subtle changes in the orange and blue before, going back to 2005. I am not disturbed by this. On its own, the new pencil looks like the same orange enough. And who says it has to be the same?

3) As a Baltimorean, I should appreciate that the color scheme mirrors that of our major-league baseball team (I’m looking at you, Tim.)

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4) I like the black imprint, though it is not as crisp as the old Palomino or the Blackwing Pearl, which shares the black branding.

5) The end could use another coat of black. I can see the orange paint where the end of the wooden barrel and the plastic cap meet on all of the pencils in the box I bought.

6) Unless these are going to be sold individually, I do not understand the sudden appearance of the barcode. Indeed, I have often seen various Blackwing models for sale individually sans barcode. But if this is a sign that the Palomino’s market will increase to more brick-and-mortar art supply stores, then I heartily embrace it. (I feel badly for the staff at my favorite shop when they have to look up codes from the shelves when I buy pencils which lack barcodes.) I am also glad to see the country of origin included in the pencil, though I’m not quite sure why this makes me feel that way.

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7) The grade is only stamped on the end on two sides, the same two that have printing on them further down the barrel. This threw me a bit, as pencils are often stamped on three sides for easier identification. But these new Palominos are still myriad times easier to select than the older version, with only one small grade identifier.

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8) The Palominos feel more like an art pencil than they did before. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all, and indeed might indicate the direction in which Cal Cedar plans to move the “original” Palomino pencil. However, with the long-standing, short spectrum of grades (2H-2B) dominating for nearly seven years, I always thought of the Palomino as a writing pencil, a fine writing pencil, and I think that distinction could very well have been a part of my affection for this pencil.

9) I have long wondered what would be the fate of the pencil which (unless I am mistaken) ultimately made the Palomino version[s] of the Blackwing possible. It is reassuring to know that the Palomino is still getting attention, after giving its name to the new branding. Cal Cedar seems to be breathing new life into this Senior Pencil. It’s also especially nice (to me) to know that things are the same on business end of the pencil – same core; same cedar; same excellent centering. It is the same writing experience that I have enjoyed since Woodchuck sent the first review pack almost nine years ago.

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10) I’m not sure that I like this treatment as much as the original finish, but I hope it will grow on me. It feels less like a “fancy” pencil and more like a Work Horse pencil now. And, despite my few qualms, it should tell Comrades something that I have replaced the gold-stampled Palomino in my small pencil box with one of the HBs in my new set.

(These were not provided by Cal Cedar. Opinions expressed about this model and about this brand toward which many folks feel very strongly – one way or the other – are my own.)

18 Responses to “New Palomino Pencil Finish.”

  1. Matthias says:

    Thanks for this review! I think I’d probably like the new look if there was no Mars Lumograph, but with the Mars Lumograph around my feeling is that it made the Palomino, which had it’s own unique look, something of a copy cat – and takes away from the Palomino’s specialness. I also think it’s not nice to use a design element of a well known pencil. It’s certainly not nice you you are a no name manufacturer, but if you are a well known brand and do this it’s even worse.

    • John says:

      I suspect that the fate of the blue Palomino will be influenced by how much it would look like a Mars pencil, with that end cap.

      I’d suggest losing the white band — both to distinguish it from the Mars and to make it look SLICK.

      Also, if you’re reading, Pencils.com: If you make an erasered version of this pencil, a black ferrule and black (or orange) eraser would be excellent! Now that I think of it, this orange, with the minimal black print (sans barcode because they would only come by the dozen), a black ferrule like the one on the Rhodia pencil, and a NON-WHITE eraser would make a very attractive “writing pencil.”

  2. Gunther says:

    The new design reminds me of the BIC Gilbert 33. Of course with so many pencil designs in the world it is quite difficult to avoid similarities but in this case I don’t think it was a wise choice.

  3. READYdot says:

    Don’t like it. Too much Lumograph, too much Halloween, not enough style and loosing the gold writing is a bad choice in my humble opinion. Losing the white stripe might be a good choice though (like the Bruynzeel pencils, although their idea with the different coloring is ace). Now the idea with the black ferrule and orange eraser… tasty!

  4. Sebastian says:

    I love the new look. Reminds me strongly of Lyra Orlow-Techno 6300!

  5. Tim Wasem says:

    Go Orioles! This should be the official game scoring pencil.

  6. Adair says:

    Barcodes? Are you kidding me? That’s a pity. Barcodes ruin the look of many otherwise amazing German and Japanese pencils.

    I really hope the blue and orange eraser-tipped Palominos, made for writing, remain the same.

    • John says:

      Woodchuck tells me that the erasered versions will stick around in their current form. But my beloved end-dipped blue will be gone once they sell out. :(

  7. Adair says:

    You mean the blue version of the eraser-less drawing Palomino? They’re cutting it? That’s a shame.

    I wonder why these changes. What’s the old saying, if it ain’t broke..?

    Somehow I can’t help feeling that the Blackwing revival hurt the Palomino line.

  8. Gunther says:

    I can’t help but think that these are acts of desperation.

  9. Pisces6 says:

    I’m not a big fan of the redesign. I’m attached to the old design, so it will take me sometime to get used to the new one.

    I think they already got rid of the blue, eraser-tipped Palominos because it’s no longer being sold on Pencils.com. I’m sad to hear that they’re eliminating the blue version completely if the eraser-less one is getting cut as well. The blue ones were my favorite.

  10. Adair says:

    I’m just not sure why a brand that had established its own iconic image so successfully should change it to resemble another brand. The Palomino is without a doubt recognized by pencil-lovers as a distinct item and as one of the very best pencils available anywhere. It gains nothing from echoing a Mars Lumograph or a Lyra or any other pencil. It has its own firm place in pencil history and quality.

    The loss, if it is actual, of the eraser-tipped blue HBs is terrible. I think that a company as popular as CAL CEDAR has been on the blogs (and that has profited so much from their attention) should have alerted their many fans about the impending changes and elimination of product lines. This would have given folks a chance to stock up on their favorites. It would also have allowed customers to make a case to the company for keeping the deleted lines and formats. I wonder if CAL CEDAR considered its customer base at all before making these decisions. Perhaps Woodchuck could clear up the situation for us on Timberlines. What exactly is being discontinued, or not?

    Last night in my stash I found a pristine, unused packet of six blue Palomino eraser-tipped HB’s. These are from the early days ; the pencils are a little shorter and are stored in a neat transparent case that one could slip into one’s breast pocket. It is a thing of beauty. Wish we could go back to that original purity.

  11. Pisces6 says:

    After looking through the Pencils.com website, there is a way to get the eraser-tipped, blue Palomino pencils, however, you must purchase them in bulk (144 pencils). There doesn’t seem to be a way to get a 12-pack of blue, eraser-tipped pencils at this time. :\

    It does not bode well for those who are fans of the blue version since it just reinforces the notion that they are being phased out. My guess is that the new design makes the blue pencils look like Mars Lumograph, so instead of keeping the old design for the blue version, they’re just phasing it out now.

  12. Adair says:

    The 12-pack option seems to have disappeared, while the bulk HB blues say out of stock when you try to order them. Not good!

    Pisces6, you’re right. The new design would render the eraser-less blues too close to the Mars Lumograph’s looks.

    • Pisces6 says:

      Well, assuming the description isn’t outdated, you might be able to get a blue HB eraser-tipped Palomino by buying the Palomino Collection Pack. >_>;

      I’m really going to miss the blue Palominos once they run out. :\

  13. Riccardo says:

    I’d be happy with any continuation of the eraser tipped Palomino HB. I think the new orange/white/black design with either a white or black eraser would look really nice.

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  15. kevin p says:

    I have these Palomino pencils that look like the old ones, orange with gold band and lettering and no Japan imprint or bar code and no eraser. BUT they also, oddly, do not have California * Republic on them. Odd. I got them here in Korea and they are the best pencils I have ever used. We get all the German and lots of the Japanese pencils here (Hi-Unis, Tombow Mono 100 and Mono J) The Hi-Uni pencils were my favorite, but these Palominos are so good the Faber, Lumographs, Monos, and even the beloved Mitsubishi Hi Unis are all sidelined. Not keen on the new look. Perhaps I should stock up now while I can get the old ones.

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