Father’s and Son’s Top Seven Pencils.

I love the theme of intergenerational pencil discussions. My daughter and I have them on a regular basis, though my son (at just about 19 months old) just yells “Puh!” for now. Luke recently posted a piece by a father and son review team:

“My 17-year-old son has taken an interest in my growing collection of Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602s and he and I share a mild (in our minds, anyway) obsession with finding the ultimate writing wood pencil. After collecting an assortment of recommended pencils for comparison, we sat down and conducted our unscientific test…”

Read more at Pencilism!

14 thoughts on “Father’s and Son’s Top Seven Pencils.”

  1. There are various versions of the Norica which I have tried. They are all marked HB but have different actual hardness levels. I have many Mitsubishi pencils but none with erasers. Is the 9850 below the Hi-Uni and Uni pencils in price? I have some Mitsubishi 9800 pencils, with erasers.

    1. Hi Jeff,

      The Norica we used was specifically the HB 2. Regarding the Japanese price comparisons, at Jetpens.com, the Mitsubishi 9850, which I guess is the same as the 9800 but with an eraser tip, costs $1.00 each compared to Hi Uni HB at $2.35. I’m not sure about the Uni.

      1. I ordered 10 of the 9850 pencils from Jetpens. I might have mixed up the grades but I only saw it in HB. I guess that makes sense. If you start writing with a 2B or a 3B a separate eraser is really called for. The Tombow 2558 in B is a nice pencil at a reasonable price. When I am in Manhattan I like to stop in at Kinokuniya and buy some loose (not whole dozens) Japanese pencils. I also ordered a bunch of different pencils from pencils.jp.

  2. Based on this article, went out and snagged a 36-pack of Noricas today at Staples.

    They’re fine. Better than Ticonderogas.

    Better than 602s of any make and year? Not by a long shot. There’s nothing “jaw-droppingly incomprehensible” about them, that seems certain. I feel like this post is a Staedtler ad.

    1. Hi G McClure,

      I absolutely don’t expect everyone to agree with the opinions of my son and me, and I also expect our findings to be controversial because they go against what people expect and hold to be true.

      However, when we did our comparison, we did so without prejudging any of the pencils. We only wanted to find which, out of this list, we felt moved across the page best while laying down what we felt to be the best line.

      As I stated in my review, the original Blackwing and Staedtler were tied as far as I was concerned and my son felt the Staedtler slightly topped it.

      That a 14 cent pencil could tie much less beat – in anyone’s review – the legend that now sells for $30 and up is, in my opinion, jaw-droppingly incomprehensible.

      Your mileage may vary, G, but I can assure you this review was no Staedtler ad.


  3. Flat black painted Norica pencils are really great, I agree. You can also buy the blue painted ones from staples.com in the USA but they are not as great. Norica are good but my Noris is my favorite pencil overall.

  4. I had a friend of mine visiting the US a few months ago and asked him to bring a couple of good american pencils. He brought me three Staedtler Norica HB2 and I was less than impressed.

    I agree with G McClure. They are fine, but that is all they are.

    There is nothing about this pencil that I would write home about.

    1. Hi P de Jesus,

      What do you rank at the top? I wouldn’t consider the Staedtler Norica’s to be “American” pencils, but what is your favorite writing pencil – specifically?

      Out of our list of seven, believe it or not, we put it at the top of the list. But that’s only with a limited comparison, and I’m not done looking.


      1. Hi Steve,

        Thanks for the article. It is very interesting to have some of our common assumptions put to test. I must say that after reading your article, I immediately grabbed my Norica out of the cup and gave it a good run on Optik Paper 90g.

        At the moment my favourite pencil is not included on the list of seven you and your son had fun comparing. It is the Tombow 2558, B graded.

        Unfortunately, I have not tried yet many of those you had on your list, but from what I know and have tried I would rate General’s Semi-Hex and Palomino Blackwing 602 both higher than the Staedtler Norica.

        I find the graphite on the General’s Semi-Hex rather smooth for such a cheap and easily available pencil and it manages to keep a dark line longer than Norica. For me personally, dark lines are a plus.

        As for the Palomino Blackwing 602, I do find it excellent with a great point retention and a beautiful dark and smooth line.

        Have a good sunday.

        1. Thanks for the follow-up. After swapping out the Norica and Palomino Blackwing 6602 in daily use for a week, I still rate them close in initial impressions, but I’ve noticed the Norica needs sharpening more frequently. And here’s where the lower price of the Norica manifests itself for me – that flat black paint I like easily nicks off from the slight rubbing against the opening edge of the pencil sharpener.

          I have about a dozen different pencils on order and I’ll follow up in three weeks or so – whenever they’ve all come in and my son and I can sit down again, and we’ll rank them against the top three.

          What’s very interesting is how different people’s opinions are (and how resolutely some of us hold to them). I guess that’s why there is no clear consensus on which, exactly, is THE perfect writing pencil. Seems like the original Blackwing 602 is as close as Earthling’s have ever to unanimous agreement.

          1. Hello Steve,

            I guess different people expect different things from a pencil, thus the various debates about which pencil is the perfect one. I
            personally tend to go for B or 2B pencils as I like dark and smooth lines better, even though they smear and smudge.

            Nevertheless, for my
            current pocket notebook I tend to prefer HB pencils for their point retention, because the paper is slightly thick and textured. So the
            type of paper does help defining what a “favorite” or “perfect” pencil may be.

            I think if there were such a thing as THE perfect pencil, we would miss out on all the fun there is in trying out new writing weapons
            [sometimes we come across with some amazing wonders].

            I do not have or wish to have the most perfect pencil. Rather, I have my favourite pencils depending on the type of paper I am using and the kind of writing I am geared up to.

            Looking forward to your new ranking after you’ve received all items of your new order.

            Have a good week.

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